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Let’s Not Advocate For Hooking Up With People in Their Most Vulnerable Life Stage

We tell comedians to punch up and not down, and bullies to pick on people their own size. We should also apply this logic to any situation where you’re trying to get laid, aka, sport fucking. The logic is this: Don’t target people for sport sex who are more vulnerable than us, meaning in a super emotional state, or particularly vulnerable or distressed. It’s not a fair fight.

A few examples: the recently widowed, the recently dumped, the recently fired, or the recently divorced. Anyone who just lost their entire house in a fire. Anyone who has less power than you that you could exploit. Anyone who just came out of a civil war. Anyone who needs more from you than you need from them, like a job or career advice or help changing a flat tire. If someone is crying in a bar, don’t try to fuck them. If someone is hitching a ride, don’t try to fuck them. If someone is confiding in you about an abusive childhood, don’t try to fuck them. If someone just got out of a really difficult, brutal relationship and is clearly emotionally vulnerable, don’t try to fuck them. Offering seductive comfort for personal sexual gain is the equivalent of an emotional roofie, and it’s not a good look.

I’m not saying you can’t have sex with a person in these categories if they also want to have sex with you. But maybe try to at least be sensitive enough to the scenario to make sure they’re cool with it. You could even ask: “Hey, I know you just cried to me about your dog dying, and are super vulnerable, are you sure you want to fuck?”

Let’s also not make it a whole strategy for fucking. Let’s not go out of our way to isolate groups of people like this and then only fuck them. Recently, The Cut did that when it ran an essay from a woman who announced she only dates recently divorced dads. In it, Dana Hamilton explains that she prefers this particular demographic because recently divorced dads are, among other things, pretty desperate to try new sex moves because they’ve been fucking the same old lady for so long. They also have very little free time, so they couldn’t have a real relationship if they wanted.

Imagine the converse: an essay from a dude proclaiming “Why I Only Date Divorced Moms,” which explains that freshly separated women are the most fun to fuck because they are too busy with their kids to try to lock you into a relationship, but also down to take it up the ass.

I make this analogy because usually, we have to tell this sort of thing to men (and by the way, since when are there not tons of men willing to fuck casually who aren’t sobbing at night to old pictures of their ex wife?). Preying on vulnerable women is not just a cornerstone of male seduction techniques, but movies (Wedding Crashers, About a Boy) also celebrate lying to particularly desperate women to get them to have sex with you.

Even science has wondered if men are in fact more turned on by a woman they think they can trick them into fucking. A 2012 study asked whether men would be more attracted to ladies they thought were more easily sexually exploitable, such as those who looked dumb or sleepy. Among the other “tells” men in the study listed that a woman was an easy mark: “lip lick/bite,” “over-shoulder look,” “sleepy,” “intoxicated,” “tight clothing,” “fat,” “short,” “unintelligent,” “punk,” “attention-seeking,” and “touching breast.” The researchers were right, in so much the men wanted to fuck the women who telegraphed these signs. The men also made clear they didn’t rate the women well for being in actual relationships — just for getting them into bed.

Of course, men who do this sort of thing don’t tell the women up front this is why they’ve chosen to hit on them. If you told someone at a funeral you were trying to fuck them because their smeary eyeliner and raccoon eyes made them a dead ringer for a quick fuck, it probably wouldn’t work out.

I get that men have treated women like shit for a long time. I get that women have long been reined in by a vicious double standard that lets men have all the sex fun with none of the consequences, and that now it’s our turn to be as selfish and crass about our exploits. I fully advocate women having casual sex with anyone they like. But I also don’t think we should celebrate how great is to fuck people who are going through one of the most devastating emotional experiences a person can go through in a lifetime, and then also frame it as empowerment.

Women have put up with enormous shit from men and it’s hard to argue that men deserve any special consideration when being seduced by women. It’s also just as hard to support any aspect of so-called progress that ultimately just imitates the worst of male behavior. Women don’t have to be “better” than men, but nor should we celebrate sleazy dating practices, or ignore some of feminism’s most cherished tenets, which is that everyone be valued and respected on a level playing field.

We’re all adults here, but there’s a difference between two people admitting that neither of you is looking for anything serious, versus one person announcing that you go out of your way to fuck one type of person because they are so desperate and grateful and conveniently unavailable. We never hear in Hamilton’s piece if the men are cool with this arrangement.

They’re on Tinder, but that doesn’t mean they only want sex. The author notes that the divorced dads she goes for usually have a line in their Tinder bio that they have kids and anyone who isn’t cool with that should swipe left. But if anything, this is a disclosure one makes when they want to actually date, not just fuck. In other words, the people on Tinder who just want sex are the people whose kids are nowhere near their bio. If you’re never going to introduce someone to your kids, you don’t need to mention them.

A second major point of contention with Hamilton’s strategy is that she picks dudes “at least six months” divorced, as if to suggest she believes she is avoiding the messy stuff. I don’t know where these divorced people are who, after six months have zero baggage and are emotionally stable and DTF, but this is only a presumption a non-divorced person would make. Does she mean she only dates men who are six months post break up, or six months after they move out, or six months after they file the paperwork, or six months after the divorce is actually finalized? These are all wildly different scenarios. Some people who are six months divorced are only six months broken up. For some people, this means years have gone by since the breakup because of either bureaucracy or the divorce being contested, or both.

What’s more, being newly divorced is usually one of the biggest red flags possible for getting involved with someone, male or female. These are often some of the most fragile, depressed, existentially confused people on the planet — even when they wanted to get divorced. They think they know what they need, and how they feel, and what’s what, but there is a period of divorce so fresh and so raw it’s actually called “divorce crazy.”

You think you are ready to “date” but really you’re in love with your ex. You think you are in love with someone new, but really you’re just rebounding. You think you’re ready for casual sex but really are most likely to catch feelings. You are so terrified of being alone that you might latch on to anyone who shows the slightest interest in you. You often treat people like shit, because you’re so deep into the fog of your own recovery and survival. Most people ought to be alone for a year after the divorce is actually final, meaning it has gone all the way through the waiting period and legal process.

This doesn’t preclude anyone, divorced or not, from just going out there for some casual dating or casual sex. Everyone’s mileage may vary. And sure, you can fuck a freshly divorced person if you want. You could also think of them as emotionally radioactive and not really worth the Lyft fare.

What you should probably do, though, whether you’re in it for sex or dating, is tread very carefully. And if nothing else, let’s save our sport fucking for the equally matched. That way, we’re both equally likely to fuck each other over, which is the closest thing two people get to a fair shake.