There's a lot of debate over whether casual sex is healthy or degrading. But the truth is, a hookup can be disempowering or empowering depending on what you're comfortable with and how you're treated, and so can a serious relationship. There are things we all deserve in a relationship, no matter how casual it is. And the quality of a relationship is a determined by whether or not we're getting them — not by what kind of relationship it is.
There are two basic things people should be able to respect from every sexual connection, and the first is safety, Katherine Schafler, a licensed therapist who runs a private practice in New York tells Bustle. "Safety means consent for sex, transparency about protection and contraception use, and understanding that people are allowed to change their minds about any aspect of a sexual encounter at any time."
The second thing we all deserve is dignity, Schafler says. "At the most basic level, dignity simply means that you understand that a human is a human, not an object. Objects don't have feelings, can be used whenever you want or need them, and can be thrown around, thrown away, and otherwise disregarded. There's a difference between casual hookups and treating people as if they're disposable. If you don't know what that difference is, stop having sex until you figure it out."
Here are a few things we all deserve from our sexual partners, whether they're one-night stands, friends with benefits, significant others, spouses, or anything in between.
1An Understanding Of What Your Relationship Entails
How much conversation you wish to engage in with a sexual partner is entirely up to you, but at a minimum, you should be able to communicate enough to make sure everyone's happy. Talking about what activities you want to engage in and what the terms of your relationship are is vital. And if you feel uncomfortable having these conversations, that's a sign your partner's not affording you the dignity you deserve.
2Acknowledgement Of Your Existence Outside The Bedroom
We should treat our sexual partners with at least the same amount of courtesy with which we treat acquaintances. And you probably wouldn't ignore even someone you just met if you ran into them a second time. Not acknowledging someone you've slept with sends the message that you're embarrassed about your relationship. Everyone is worthy of a simple "hello, how are you?"
3Consideration For Your Health
Even if you're just having a one-night stand, it's absolutely crucial to talk about STI and/or pregnancy prevention. You deserve someone who will use the protection necessary to keep you safe and disclose any STIs they have so you can make an informed decision about whether to sleep with them or not. If your consent is not informed, after all, it's not consent.
4Vigilance Regarding Your Boundaries
Your partners should take the utmost care to make sure you're comfortable with everything that happens between you, even if they have no romantic feelings for you whatsoever. "It was a misunderstanding" is never an excuse. If they're not sure whether you want to do something, they should ask.
5Interest In Your Preferences
What fun is sex if both parties' preferences aren't taken into account? "I love you" or even "I like you" may not be part of your rapport, but "Do you like this?" and "What do you want to try now?" still should be.
Part of hookup culture's problem is its unequal treatment of men's and women's desires. But hookups that render both partners equal are totally possible.
6Timely Responses To Your Texts
Ghosting is rude no matter who you're doing it to. Responding to a text takes less than a minute, and nobody is unimportant enough not to warrant a few seconds of someone's time.
7Respect For Your Time
No matter what kind of relationship you're in — sexual, romantic, or otherwise — habitually canceling plans, being ambiguous about them, or showing up late for them is unacceptable. If you're willing to take time out of your busy schedule to be with them, they should be willing not to waste it.
8A Clean Break
The end of a casual relationship may not be a breakup per say, but it merits acknowledgement. You do not deserve to be left wondering why you haven't heard from your hookup buddy in forever or why that Tinder date never called you back. Ending things is certainly not fun, but it's part of being in a relationship — of any kind.
All these expectations basically boil down to: "Be nice." You deserve that from your significant other, your sexual partners, and pretty much everyone. If something's not OK to do to anyone else, it should not be OK to do to a sexual partner.