Welcome to Ask Evie, our advice column. Readers can submit their questions, and our editors will dish out their best advice!
READER’S QUESTION: “I have changed a lot in the last few years, and my opinion on casual sex and hookup culture has changed (I now see it as destructive and unhealthy), but my friends do not and engage in random hookups often, and I'm not sure how to respond when they text or tell me about a hookup they had or someone new they've slept with, almost like they're expecting me to congratulate them or validate it. I'm not sure what to say in response without sounding condescending or judgmental, but I also don't want to hide my true feelings. I would appreciate any guidance here!"
EVIE’S ADVICE: If you haven't been very open about your change of perspective involving casual sex and hookup culture, then your friends might not really know and assume that you feel the same way they do. When your friends share about their most recent hookup, it might be a good opportunity to tell them about your change of heart – but in a way that is representative of your own experience and doesn't make them feel judged. You don’t want to make them feel ashamed or embarrassed to open up to you if you’re close friends. You could say something like, "You know, over the past few years, I've realized that casual sex doesn't make me happy, and after a lot of thought on my experiences, I think it's a really unhealthy and even harmful thing.” You can share how you came to this conclusion if you have a personal story or share a couple resources (like one of our many articles on the topic) on what changed your mind.
You can also offer them alternatives, ask them questions that might clue you in on their motivation to participate in hookup culture, or even change the subject entirely (they’ll get the hint). Rather than congratulating or validating them, or coming across as condescending or judgmental, you can simply ignore their comments about sex and instead change the subject to the guy in question or her feelings about the situation. Ask your friend what she liked about him, if she could see a second date with him, or what she’s looking for in a partner. If you’d rather be direct and are feeling fed up with your friends’ behavior, you can say something like, “I would never want to recommend or encourage someone I care about to do something that I wouldn't do, so because I care about you, I can't support your choice to hookup." You want to be clear that you still care about your friends and want to remain friends, while also letting them know you can't support their choices to engage in casual sex.
Be prepared to calmly respond more in-depth about your reasons for your change of mind.
Their response will clue you in to their motivation for telling you about their sexual encounters in the first place – they might be confused, or want more information, or be inspired, or be upset that you've changed, or feel judged (even if you're being the most tactful and loving person on the face of the earth). And it could lead to more discussion or even an argument or two, so be prepared to respond more in-depth about your reasons for your change of mind, while staying calm, kind, and non-judgmental. Ultimately, what they choose to do with their bodies is up to them, and they will more than likely come around to your way of thinking sooner or later. You can tell them how you feel while remaining kind and understanding, but at the end of the day, not everyone – even friends – have to see eye to eye on every issue.
Even though you clearly have good intentions and only want the best for your friends mentally, physically, and emotionally, everyone has to make their own mistakes and come to these realizations through their own experiences, so don’t feel disheartened if they don’t understand your perspective right off the bat.
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