In this week’s Hola Papi!, the advice column by writer, Twitterer, and prolific Grindr user John Paul Brammer, a reader has what he believes to be a problem: he’s gotten slutty.
After moving abroad and living alone for over three years, he’s seen more men come in and out of his bedroom at a frequency never seen before. And believes this behavior is a symptom of a larger problem.
And Hola Papi! has a lot to say about this.
If you want his advice, just email him at [email protected] with your question. Just be sure to include SPECIFICS, and don’t forget to start out your letter with Hola Papi!
First of all, I want to thank you for doing what you’re doing. I think it is courageous and informative. I think of you as the gay uncle I never had.
I’ve been dealing with depression for six years since I lost my mom. I moved abroad and been living alone for three years. With the advent of hook-up apps, I find myself hooking up a lot. I try to be very conscious of why I behave like this since I wasn’t like this when I was in my own country. Depression, loneliness, and I guess the validation of someone liking me in the app all drove me to this.
I feel like I’m turning into a slut and I don’t like it. I’ve tried deleting these apps but I keep coming back. How can I get out of this hole?
Hey Ho, Holed!
First of all, don’t you dare delete Grindr. How else would you receive Hola Papi!, the world’s first advice column to be entirely assembled by a random sentence generator, delivered straight to your mobile device? Sure, you’re having problems, but let’s focus on what matters here.
I’m kidding. Somewhat. You reference an anxiety that basically anyone who engages in sex and isn’t a straight man has had: Am I a slut?
So, let’s start at square one. What, exactly, is a slut? How many dicks must we have touched before we cross the threshold and receive our slut card? Or is it perhaps a punch card sort of deal?
I’m not sure. All I know is if the latter is the case, then my punch card has been punched to hell and back. We’re talking Swiss cheese, Holed. Papel picado over here. It looks like an empty grid in Connect Four. Sweet Jesús. Have you ever seen the movie Holes? More than that.
I’m sorry. I had more of those than I thought.
Anyway, the point is, no one is quite sure what a “slut” is. Personally, I believe it is a conspiracy invented by The Straight Man to make anyone who isn’t them feel ashamed about what we do or don’t do with our bodies. Especially women!
Unfortunately, this is something we male homosexuals have inducted into our own ranks. We love to call each other sluts. Often playfully, but, probably just as often, it’s used in a derogatory context.
For more proof this is a gendered thing, just look at gay culture: it’s much more common to think of a bottom as a slut than a top. We have so many terms for “slutty” bottoms, terms I will not repeat on this family-friendly website, while tops get off (lol) relatively scot-free.
All this to say, to get to the core of your question I think we need to address what it is you’re really concerned about here. Because I don’t think you’re worried about being “a slut,” or at least you shouldn’t be.
Once you deconstruct the weird value judgments other people have put on it, the word doesn’t really mean anything. It doesn’t mean you’re a good or bad person. You can have a lot of sex and be a good person. You can have no sex and be a good person, and everything in between.
I think you’re more concerned about your relationship with sex, which is something different and something we can tackle. Sex, like alcohol, video games, marijuana, you name it, can be utilized in unhealthy ways and become our short-term coping mechanism in lieu of addressing our root problem.
I, Papi, for example, have gone through (and continue to go through!) periods where I only have sex because I feel lonely and crave male validation because it makes me feel pretty and wanted.
I will open an app, fish around, exchange pics, and hook up with people I’m not necessarily into while feeling pretty terrible about myself throughout the process because these activities, at best, provide a sort of balm offering temporary relief from the heat rash of having low self-esteem and debilitating feelings of loneliness.
Perhaps you can relate to that experience. You have a hookup, the guy leaves, and a feeling of emptiness engulfs you, like something supremely unsatisfying just happened and you wish you hadn’t gone through the trouble in the first place because now you feel worse and you could have spent that time watching anime.
In that situation, I don’t believe the problem is sex, sex being a sort of blank canvas of body friction at the end of the day. It’s the interior issues that are the problem, the conscious or unconscious anxieties we bring to the arena of sex that emerge after we come down from the high.
Perhaps being physically intimate with a stranger reminds you that you are not emotionally intimate with anyone. Perhaps, after you get off (and if you’re lucky, you did), you realize sex wasn’t really what you wanted. You wanted something less tangible. A feeling, perhaps? A person you are trying to forget by meeting other people? Something special and electric and magical that will break the monotony of your routine, but Mr. Right Now couldn’t offer it with his toothy blowjob?
Who knows, Holed! It’s your brain full of your unique Hell Monsters, not mine. But the point is, when you make it a point to observe what your underlying issues are, you can stop confusing the forests for the trees, so to speak.
So for the “slut” portion of your question, Dr. Papi has an easy prescription: Make it safe. Make it consensual. Make sure it’s what you really want in this moment. Or, if it’s a half-and-half sort of deal, (you can’t really tell if you want sex or not but you’re going to do it anyway), don’t beat yourself up too much if you don’t feel too great afterwards. And don’t worry about being thought of as a “slut.” Your sex life is no one else’s business.
For the more complicated part, I want you to think about your relationship with sex and with the apps and with yourself so you can make decisions for your well being accordingly. Sex should not make you feel worse about yourself, and if you need to remove yourself from a sexualized space for a while to work on it, that’s what you should do. Visit IntoMore.com for Hola Papi! on your desktop instead.
And I think you should also see someone about your depression. A therapist, if you can swing it. Friends, good friends, would also be a great place to start.
I usually have something witty to say at the end here, Holed, but I used up all my juice on that Swiss cheese paragraph, so I’m just going to make like an anonymous Grindr hookup, put my pants on and leave.