Some men assume it’s possible for a woman to have sex whenever she wants to, but that’s not exactly correct. Yes, technically I could get cat-called tomorrow morning and hop on a dick shortly thereafter, but that assumes my desire to have sex supersedes my desire to maintain my physical safety, as well as my desire to take pleasure in the sex itself, which tells you a lot about the sexual and emotional dexterity of men who assume I want to solve my problems that way. “Available partner” and “desirable partner” are not the same thing, which means we all occasionally have something it’s weird to admit exists while young, attractive and living in a city of 8 million people: a dry spell.

What constitutes a dry spell depends heavily on the person describing his or her sexual misfortunes; I have friends who complain after a week and others who only start to feel the tension after five or six months. If I have a sexting partner or two, I can usually keep myself distracted for about two months, but by three, I’m start fantasizing about the weight of a man lying on top of me as much as having actual sex. In early June, I hit that three-month milestone after an abrupt breakup, and I could feel my hormones slowly starting to unravel my sanity.
There were some problems, of course, which is why I wasn’t already sexually active to begin with. First, after years of romantic abundance with dating apps, I had hit a wall: I just couldn’t make myself sit through any more first dates, even if the end reward was the instant gratification of a one-night stand. On top of that, a couple of reliably casual men from my past had either become exclusively partnered or had moved away, and my sexting buddy lived in another state. I couldn’t even gin up a decent crush in the five boroughs.
Dry spells are maddeningly self-perpetuating; the longer you don’t have sex, the more it seems like the act of having sex will first require some sort of unknowable sorcery or byzantine hoop-jumping, neither of which are you capable. And if you can never fuck again, then you can never date again, and if you can never date again, then you’ll never get married and produce a baby that will take care of you when you need someone to pay the bill for your assisted living mini-apartment. (I don’t even want to have kids, but not getting laid for three months takes me to a dark place, okay?)
For almost everyone, though, there’s a number in your phone to which you know you can send a text and probably get what you want, even if you and the person on the other end of the line are both a little bit mad it’s that easy. He or she is the kind of break-glass-in-case-of-emergency sexual partner that you don’t necessarily like, but whose number you haven’t deleted for a reason. This person is, colloquially, a hate-fuck. Mine is a man my friends know as Bad Andrew.
Bad Andrew is known as such for a very good reason, but he’s more of a slightly-past-his-prime emotional infant than a malevolent agent of romantic doom. (Although “hate-fuck” is a popular term, I wouldn’t suggest having sex with anyone you actually hate unless you also want to hate yourself afterward.) He’s well aware that I’m not fond of him, and if I had to guess, I’d bet he sees me as a someone whose occasional bouts of self-loathing are convenient. We very much enjoy three to four drinks’ worth of each other’s social company, though, and we’ve always had pretty decent sexual chemistry. It’s not a beautiful situation, but it’s one in which we both, after years of wrangling on each side, finally see eye to eye. And in early June, as if someone had put up a horny bat signal on my behalf, he texted me out of the blue and we made plans for a non-prime evening a couple days later.
The sex was mediocre at best and probably the worst I’ve ever had with him, but when you’re breaking a dry spell, working your way toward moving on from an ex or just reminding yourself that you’re an attractive person who lots of people probably would like to fuck, the quality of the sex isn’t necessarily the most important part of the encounter. In fact, it’s probably not the most important part of the majority of sexual encounters, and wanting the psychological and emotional side effects of sex is just as valid a reason to fuck as any.
What does matter in a hate-fuck situation, on the other hand, is that you realign your sexual chakras (or whatever, I don’t know, I’m not a spiritual person), reset your internal egg timer and go back out into the world as a freshly fucked sexual being. Your hate-fuck is not going to text you the next day, and if you’d want him to, you need to find a new one. The point isn’t what you do with him, it’s everything–and everyone, maybe–you feel like you can do after.
Illustration by Alice Rutherford.


  1. Wow, I feel like I’m currently in this exact situation. Mostly but not 100% over an ex. Tired of first dates. Wondering if I still remember how to have sex after 4 months. Perhaps it’s most guys, or perhaps it’s just me, but I’m not sure I have a readily available ‘hate-fuck’. This article was still encouraging though.


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