February 5, 2020

SEX ON THURSDAY | How I Learned That My Fear of Genuine Connection Was Maybe Actually a Bad Thing

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Dearest reader, I recently found myself in a little bit of a conundrum. Let me explain it to you.

It all started the Halloweekend of my freshman year. High on life and several other substances, I met a boy and decided that I was going to sleep with him. We went back to his dorm, did what we were planning on doing and had a decent enough time all around (he did have a bottom bunk and my hair did get stuck in the wire under the top bunk, but that’s a story for a different day). After we were done, he walked me back to my dorm and asked for my number. We texted a few times, but never ran into each other again. And that was that.

Or, at least, I thought that was that. A few weeks ago, I was talking to someone on Tinder who raised an interesting question in my mind: Was he the man I hooked up with over Halloweekend my freshman year? You may be asking, “But Scarlet! How can you not know if you’ve hooked up with someone before?” And to that I would answer: Listen, I’ve hooked up with a lot of people, and sometimes it gets hard to keep them all straight. That’s not the actual answer, however. The actual answer is a little bit more complicated.

You see, we never exchanged names before we hooked up. He only asked for my name when he asked for my number, and I only learned his a few days later when he first texted me. The passage of time — and the quantity of alcohol I’ve consumed during that time — have blurred my memory to the point that I can’t be sure I’m remembering it correctly. Since then, I’ve gotten a new phone and lost all of my old messages, so I can’t even go back and check. His name is slightly out of the ordinary, but not so unusual as to be instantly recognizable. To complicate matters further, I only saw him in the dark settings of a party and his dorm room, so I can only go off of general physical features. All I know is that the man that I have been talking to on Tinder has a passing resemblance and several of the same interests as my erstwhile Halloween hookup.

This left me in a state of confusion for days: unsure if I’ve already slept with someone, and with absolutely no idea how to ask. The whole ordeal has pushed me to reflect on all of the people that I’ve hooked up with over the past three and a half years at Cornell. I’ve had more than my fair share of one night stands, and, looking back, I’m genuinely surprised that this is the first time I’m finding myself in this situation. My freshman year especially, I was the queen of the unattached, one-time hookup. I jumped around from person to person and then found ways to never see them again. I made an effort to avoid connection, thinking that it would let me have the most fun possible.

At the time, I thought that this was the best way to do things — that I could sleep around and have my fun and that I would make my connections later on. But somehow, those habits of always looking to move on to the next person and never forming any attachments stuck around. Far from settling down in my third or fourth year of college, like I originally envisioned, I’m now a second semester senior who has only had one significant relationship during her time in college that didn’t even involve formally dating someone. This isn’t to say I regret all of my one night stands and short term flings; they served their purpose, and I certainly enjoyed all of them. But this case of the mystery hookup has made me wonder about what I could have missed out on. What other missed connections could there have been? What if this man had been the one, and I was so closed off to connecting with him that I didn’t even remember his name?

After conferring with my friends and half of a bottle of wine, I decided that the only practical answer to my conundrum was to simply ask the Tinder man if we had met before. If indeed he was my Halloween hookup, then surely he must have been wondering about it as well. If he turned out not to be the same person, then I could simply say he reminded me of someone. However, when I went to message him, I found that he had unmatched me, presumably for taking too long to respond to him. My conflict over opening up to genuine connection with people had closed off my opportunity to it. Perhaps I should message some of my other freshman year hookups and see what could have been.


Scarlet Letters is a student at Cornell University. Between the Sheets runs monthly this semester. Sex on Thursday appears every other Thursday.