I feel like everyone has a similar image in our head when we say the word “player.” Maybe we can age it up, slick the hair back and add a leather jacket and motorbike when we hit our thirties, but either way, it’s a pretty fixed and uncompromising image when we find ourselves asking: Is he a player? Naturally, I decided to reclaim the pathetic, gendered “player” status for myself by heading out on the town for a few months. The experience definitely taught me a few things…
- Everyone is still judging each other. It’s 2021, guys, and it’s coming from all sides. From the obnoxious ex who never got over the fact that you wanted to do more than just sit in their room all day, to the friend from high school who never got over their ‘I’m not like other girls’ phase. Let’s be real, that was always just a front for misplaced judgment about what the ‘other girls’ did with their time. Judgment from other women is disappointing, lewd comments from men who want to ingratiate you as one of the boys are to be expected, and side-eyes from relatives speculatively enquiring into your dating life are about as ever-present as oxygen in our lungs. That said, the same would still occur if I were a celibate nun, let alone actually getting some. Basically, I might as well do what I want and whoever I want.
- Clubbing is more fun without the pressure to date. Sometimes we just need to be let loose and dance without having to find The One or wait for our friends to be on the same drunken level as us). Or, having to constantly think about the Uber home and safely restoring friends to their houses. I’ll always be that person to whoever needs me, but let’s not pretend that being the responsible friend all the time is fun. There’s something to be said for going to a club when the only people who need you don’t actually know your name yet. From now on I’ll never be the girl who plays hard to get. You’ll see why!
- You can be whoever you want. As long as you’re safe and your friends know where you are, what’s the harm? Embrace your sexuality without shame or guilt.
- I got more confident. This was a natural consequence of just having more chances to practice – dance moves, pick-up lines, sultry looks, and an all manner of audacious mating rituals. I jest, but you get the gist. You can try things out, see what works, what doesn’t, and establish what your boundaries are. It just takes nudging them a little outside of where they were before. It’s whatever you’re comfortable with. You’re more relaxed without feeling the eyes of the world watching your every move. You can strike gold and discover a newfound desire. I certainly did. Even if this just involves a new look or haircut. It’s always fun to reinvent ourselves a little.
- The sex got better. It’s all of the things everyone says we should do whenver we have a new sexual partner, but without the threat of anyone actually knowing me or seeing me again. I found it was much easier to assert myself. I could tell partners what I wanted, try new positions, and focus on the pleasure and what felt good for me, rather than being bogged down by the politics and pressures of a relationship. Also, I laughed more during sex than I ever had before, when it had seemed so serious and loaded. When you’re a player, your relationship with sex changes. It’s not a performance for which you will be judged, for which there will be a reckoning if something goes wrong. It is what it is, there are no critics, only equal partners engaged in an experience together. It’s chill, baby.
- I got fitter. I think that this was just a logistical reality of the dancing, hijinks, and various walks of shame. My cardio health had never been better. Maybe it was the strut of fame, out at the same time as the morning joggers. Maturity is realizing that you’re just as out of place as they are in those moments on the dusky streets.
- I was less stressed. I mean, sex is a great way to unwind. But with fewer feelings involved, I was much less worried about any potential … overlaps or repetitions. When you stop treating sex as something you owe to or must withdraw from another person, it’s easier to prioritize yourself.
- The power dynamics changed. When there are fewer gendered and behavioral expectations of opening doors, paying for meals, or dressing up, sex is just about sex. Maybe all those guys in backward caps were on to something after all. Maybe if society were less focused on sex as an instrument of keeping women in place, casual relationships could emerge as an alternative to these hegemonies of master-servant power dynamics. The big problem is of course the risk of gaslighting the individual on the other end. However, as long as all involved understand the nature of the engagement, there’s nothing wrong with casual sex. But we know the world isn’t ready for that situation just yet.
- It cost me nothing extra. The money I saved on couples retreats to Big Sur, I spent on drinks at the bars. What’s stopping you from having your hot girl fall?