September 7, 2022

SEX ON THURSDAY | New Adult Romance: Chicklit and Great Sexpectations

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I, like any proper nerd, love to read. Though Pride and Prejudice will forever be my favorite work of literature, I have a soft spot for the modern, BookTok acclaimed, new adult romance novel. I’ve read Alli Hazelwood’s The Love Hypothesis three times over and Emily Henry’s People We Meet on Vacation and Beach Read back-to-back in less than 48 hours. Big accomplishments, I’m aware.

While college-aged romantics love these works for their hypnotic storytelling and Wattpad-level picture-perfect plotlines, one central selling point is the eventual sex scene. All of these novels have smut. Though some of these books are smuttier than others, the infamous sex scene always has its moment. I’d go as far as to say it defines the new adult genre — there has to be at least a teeny bit of sexytimes. 

In People We Meet on Vacation, it’s a somewhat vague, emotional scene where the female and male main characters finally bang one out in their crappy motel room after 250 pages of pure tension. In The Love Hypothesis, the consummate sex scene is a multichapter event (!) in which there is arguably too much description. Like, why can Adam fit Olive’s whole boob in his mouth? How did that get past a gaggle of editors?

Though I may be critical, I genuinely enjoy these climactic sex scenes — obviously, they’re a big part of why I read new adult romance instead of young adult. A certain level of maturity comes from a physical relationship between two romantic leads. Anything without sexual tension just feels … boring.

That being said, I am a virgin, and I mention it because I feel these books are a very virgin thing to enjoy. To elaborate, I’m a virgin by choice, not from lack of opportunity, but a virgin, nonetheless. Sometimes, I feel like my love for these books has stopped me from just giving up and losing it already. Here I am, reading these perfect sex scenes where the perfect guy screws the mousy female main character so perfectly that she doesn’t even have to fake it at the finish line. Their first time together, they already fit like two puzzle pieces.

I know that’s a crock of shit. You know that’s a crock of shit. I’m sure most people with even an inkling of sexual experience know that nothing is perfect on the first attempt. The guy finishes too fast, doesn’t fit the first time (this is simply only a temporary issue, according to The Love Hypothesis), or has different preferences from you entirely. 

Even though I know the perfect sexual encounter is only a fictional concept, I continue to strive for it. I’ve turned down head from a guy because I wasn’t groomed the way I’d prefer to be. I know I’m a raging perfectionist, but who in their right mind would turn down a willing participant, one who would gladly go down on you, because their bikini line had too much razor burn post-shave?

Me. I did. I’m looking into laser now.

These novels boast spontaneity, the thrill of just deciding you want to have sex with your long-time best friend, that hot, young professor, or your enemy-turned-lover. You’re telling me the main girl, no matter her name or background, just jumps in unprepared? I understand that these women don’t exist beyond the pages I read their stories on, but this cannot be realistic fiction.

First semester of my freshman year, I was hopelessly into this guy with a serious girlfriend back home. I was really great friends with him and his roommate,  and I spent the majority of my first year evading other romantic opportunities because I just knew that he was the one. It was a random Thursday night in February when I found out his girlfriend had broken up with him.

That same night, I gave his roommate a top-notch blow job.

That is an NA author’s wet dream! The Wattpad story could practically write itself! I screwed up, big time! But did I open the door to another romance ….?

No. Two weeks later, the roommate had a girlfriend who wasn’t me, and I couldn’t pursue anything with my initial love interest because that would be a tad too weird — the action would have real consequences, despite what NA novels teach. 

Being a perfectionist, especially when it comes to sex, is difficult. Unfortunately, being a fan of smutty NA prose doesn’t make it any easier. I want nothing more than to find an eerily perfect guy who magically knows all my sweet spots, but it just doesn’t work that way. Even when you feel like the main character, life never plays out like a romance novel.

Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t stop searching for my perfect, NA novel-worthy first time. It just means that if (and when) the experience doesn’t live up to my favorite scenes in my favorite books, I’ll consider being a little more forgiving.

Virginia Snatch is a student at Cornell University. Comments can be sent to [email protected]. The Slip ‘N Slide runs during alternate Sex on Thursdays this semester.