I Use Sex As My Defense Armor — And I'm Totally OK With That

It doesn't mean I'm broken. It's just where I am — for now.

woman in bed Shift Drive / Shutterstock

When I first started blogging I said that I was on a mission to learn and grow and I wanted to take my readers along with me. Well, I’ve been pretty good about sharing the learning — it’s factoid central up in here! — but I haven’t shared jack on the “growing” front.

Why is that? Easy answer — because it’s scary as hell!

But I had a revelation and it was big and sex-related and feels important, so now is as good a time as any.


Stand by for some navel-gazing.

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I recently realized that sex has become my defense, my armor. Sex is how I keep people away.

It’s really a brilliant strategy and one that I am quite good at. None of that poorly executed, cold, brusque “hit it and quit it” for me. No, I will spend time with you, we will talk and laugh, we will hang out and share meals, we will have in-jokes and favorite beers, we will cuddle and kiss but mostly we will have a metric f*ck-ton of sex — and I will keep you at an arm’s length the entire time.


You’ll think you’re close to me because we spend a lot of time together without clothes, and for a while, you won’t even notice that whenever you try to steer the conversation somewhere serious I crack a joke or kiss you, because, well, I’m funny and hot. It won’t occur to you that I haven’t introduced you to any of my friends or wanted to meet any of yours because, well, we wouldn’t want them around when we’re naked.

You’ll let me get away with this maybe because we’re having fun, but maybe because you thought that when I said I was only dating casually I didn’t really mean I was closed off to the idea of this turning into something. 

After all who wouldn’t love to fall in love, right?

Well, me.


After a while though, you might start to lose patience and begin using phrases like “long talk” or “nice dinner” — and I’ll panic and start talking like a bad stereotype of a drunken frat boy in an attempt to distract you with sex, sex, and more sex.

And in the end, what you’ll think has happened is that you ended a relationship with a girl who didn’t want a boyfriend. What you may not have even realized is that all along I had been carefully walling myself off and granting you access that was so limited that by the end our “relationship” basically amounted to a glory hole.

You may have put your hands all over my body, but you never once touched me.

We don’t have the “we should talk” conversation. More likely you simply stop calling, and I’m okay with that. You might think it’s because I don’t like you. You’re wrong, I wouldn’t have bothered if that was the case. It’s not that I don’t notice when you go. I do, but what I’m most aware of is how I don’t feel anything at all.


Don’t get me wrong, I know there are things I will miss.

People leave their impressions and there is a reason I smile whenever anyone mentions that one long-defunct rock club and there’s someone who comes to mind when I have that one really amazing beer — I’m not entirely devoid of sentiment — but the feeling is more akin to the closing of a favorite bar than the loss of a lover. Fun was had, there are fond memories, but I have not lost any part of myself.

That was probably the point all along.

I’m not going to stage an impassioned defense of my actions. To be clear, I will defend to the ground my right to happy, healthy, consensual sex with whomever I choose, but I know that this “sex as battle armor” approach doesn’t fall under the heading “healthy and happy." I know there are better ways.


The best I can do right now is to say that I am working on it. I think that’s important for all of us really. For me, venturing into the sex-positive community has helped immensely. Learning more about sexuality, my own feelings, and beliefs about it, and my fears around it, have helped me understand at least part of what I’m doing. Figuring out what I actually want and how to ask for it has been a huge step in terms of complete honesty with partners.

Finally, I can hold the space to know that right now this is where I’m at and that’s okay. 

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I’m not broken or defective. I’m just here ... for now.


So maybe I’m a bit more hesitant — for now.

Maybe hanging out with me comes with a disclaimer — I’m not kidding, I have an actual disclaimer for guys who ask me out — for now.

Maybe I just pass up some great guys because I’m just not there — for now.


It’s so easy to fall into behavior and just repeat it, make it a habit, and let it become part of your identity. And I’m not willing to do that here.

Thanks for listening.

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JoEllen Notte is a writer, speaker, and researcher. Since 2012 she has been writing about sex, mental health, and vibrators. She's currently working on her first book, The Monster Under The Bed: Sex, Depression, And The Conversations We Aren't Having. Follow her on Twitter @JoEllenNotte.