Black man sitting in chair posing for cell phone selfie

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It took me two hours to do something that should have only taken 15 minutes. But I’m looking for a lot: someone who’s up for sleeping in on some weekends, strange dates, and 2 a.m. runs to Thai restaurants on Hollywood Boulevard. That’s my version of love, and I need my Bumble, Hinge, and Tinder profiles to reflect that thoroughly. But, apparently, in the 120 minutes I spent creating one of the greatest online dating profiles ever, a new sexual revolution began—and no one bothered to text me an update. It seems that everyone is fucking with no emotions on these damn apps, and I’m in the streets looking for like, the bigger l-word, and maybe a thigh to hold tight while driving across some flatlands.

I’ve always been a little behind the curve when it comes to sexual expectations. I lost my virginity after all my boys, according to them. I’m also the last one to complete my bucket list of sexual partners, but honestly, finding someone who is into role-playing and down for a donkey punch is a tad difficult. I’ve never successfully executed a one-night stand. I’ve stopped each of them before they turned the knob to leave and days later we were sitting on the side of a mountain laughing at how out of shape we are and just how much we have in common. They’ve all become more than intended and I curse my ability to make people feel comfortable and loved. NSA (no strings attached) has not been my forte, and I hate being forgotten. Perhaps if I’d kept this tidbit to myself instead of sharing it with those friends I speak with so candidly about sex, I’d have known about the beginning of this sexual shift.

But my d*ck doesn’t get hard for random encounters. There are prerequisites that must be achieved, like an amazing conversation and a strong opinion on politics, religion, and rape apologists. Now, when swiping up and down, left and right, and tapping yes and no, I’m thinking about the adventures, the hikes, the weird shit that’ll happen when we randomly get left by our bus at the UK border during a spontaneous-as-fuck weekend trip, not which nude image would make the perfect icebreaker.

My d*ck doesn’t  get hard for random encounters.

“You want too much,” Jason, my friend and possible coiner of the term, “hook-up culture,” told me. “All these dating apps are just for fucking. I thought you, of all people, knew that.” I pretended to not know, remaining foolishly optimistic that each conversation wouldn’t quickly go from planning the first date next week to agreeing to meet tonight by the river to fuck on a park bench hidden by a tree. I’ve advanced the culture as far as I could. I’ve been learning my body at least since I was six, and learning bodies that didn’t look like mine since seven. I’ve remained opened to explore and have been lucky enough to find partners open to do the same. At 19, my girlfriend was 44 and she held nothing back when it came to teaching me about the art of execution. When I started wearing suits to work in my early 20s, I found lovers in chat rooms and via social media who wanted to see if blindfolds and straps would take us to new limits. It was fun. But by 31, I realized I’d never properly made love in a bedroom doorway after waking up, having never made it to the kitchen to get the water my partner and I thought we needed to stay alive after pushing each other to our physical limits. I’ve had the threesomes, played voyeur, exhibitionist, and master. I stopped wearing deodorant for one lover, and drank the breast milk of another, and each time, I attempted to normalize these things through loud, public conversations.

Nowadays, I’m beginning to understand why my friends got married in their 20s instead of waiting until after they’d traveled the world, fell in love with nine languages, and ran naked with nuns alongside the Thames at 5 a.m. I guess by then they’d  hooked up with folks countless times, felt empty after, and knew it was only going to get worse. They needed to reach for the straws sooner, rather than later. Circa 2008, “I love you” was complemented by “cum inside me” and “we don’t need condoms” and dudes like my boy Chris got married. He understood the value of an “I love you” girl and knew how rare that had become. He saw a revolution coming, wanted no dealings with it, and bowed out gracefully. Meanwhile, here I am wondering where the fucking is taking place, who’s participating, where it will lead us, and if I’m properly prepared. Or is this where I bow out?

I’ve had the threesomes, played voyeur, exhibitionist, and master. I stopped wearing deodorant for one lover, and drank the breast milk of another, and each time, I’ve attempted to normalize these things through loud, public conversations.

We are free to love whom we want and where we want, and as long as it’s within the law, how we want. All of which was accelerated by the work of Masters and Johnson and Kinsey and Stopes and Gooch. So watching She’s Gotta Have It in 2017 is not as political as it was when it debuted in 1986…or even 1991 and 1995. I assume most of the women I take out are dating at least two other guys who are much different than me. That’s just not revolutionary. It’s not new. It’s—sorry, Spike—normal. The beauty of now is that we are able to do all of this with much less judgment. Many of us have rejected the definitions and roles and expectations our parents attempt to push on us. Stephen, my friend since the college years, is doing his part to unapologetically normalize polyamory, and I love him for it.  I also respect the hell out of his relationship. Stigmas are disappearing, and there are pills available to help prevent—or at least clear up—diseases that scared the shit out of us just a few years ago. If the sexual revolution our grandparents were either participating in or hiding from brought us better porn, coffee shop conversations about cum play, the normalization of premarital sex, and the pill, what will happen when this one ends?

Stigmas are disappearing, and there are pills available to help prevent—or at least clear up—diseases that scared the shit out of us just a few years ago.

I already come naked to all conversations about sex, and make sure others are just as comfortable when sharing. When I was 14, my dad, tipsy on a Friday night, said, “I used to cum all night. Now it takes me all night to cum. One day, you’ll understand.” At 35, I’m at the door of understanding what he meant. He’s a man who’s remained on the surface with his communication, taking everything exactly as it was said, meaning exactly what he said. As the son, a better version of him and everyone before us, I can translate his uncouth words: Time spent is now important. At this age, invest, sit with it, and be patient. For me, at least for now, that means giving my last few years of steady, amazing erections to some rare swipe who’ll help construct a relationship that works for us.

Barbara, a once-dated, fucked, hated, now-friend, suggests that three dates in I should suggest a drink, and spit-deep conversation that leads to talks about fetishes, fantasies, and how much room could possibly be in the backseat of a Fiat 500. I’m down. If I come into this thing, I can’t leave my emotions at the door.

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