I’ve somehow managed to get into a real adult relationship. The kind where someone actually wants to spend time with you and doesn’t call you their “buddy” when introducing you to people. It has been a long time coming, and I couldn’t be happier. But now that all my friends and acquaintances are aware of my relationship status, I’ve been taken aback by a particular question I get rather frequently.

It is, essentially, this: “The sex is so much better now, right?”

Many single people—especially the perpetually single ones—think of relationship sex as more intimate, thus better in quality. Obviously, there’s also the opposing stereotype about monogamous sex, particularly marriage sex, being stale and in need of “spicing up.” But from the perspective of single people, relationship sex is something to aspire to.

It’s one of those “grass is always greener” scenarios, though I guess in this case it should be more like, “the orgasm is always greener”? (Note: If your orgasm is green, please see a doctor immediately.)

I thought that because I was finally having sex with a man who holds my hand in public, somehow our deeper emotional connection would improve the physical sensations of sex.

As someone who was in that perpetually single category for most of her adult life, I understand why so many of my single friends think relationship sex is better. Hell, I thought it was going to be better too. But, to my surprise, it isn’t. That’s not to say our sex isn’t great. It’s pretty damn good. I mean, it is sex after all. Hard not to like (when it’s being done right).

What exactly was I anticipating would be so head and shoulders above the casual sex I’ve had up until now? What I was expecting was, in large part, a fantasy. I thought that because I was finally having sex with someone who holds my hand in public, somehow our deeper emotional connection would improve the physical sensations of sex. I was under the impression that my orgasm would be stronger and my overall enjoyment of the experience so much more transcendent. All because I was letting a penis enter me attached to a man who calls me his girlfriend.

Even in sex-positive spaces, there is still a sentiment that casual sex is, ideally, temporary.

Why did I think this? Because society pushes this notion. Even in sex-positive spaces, where casual sex is seen as totally normal, there is still a sentiment that casual sex is, ideally, temporary. It’s what you settle for until you find a long-term partner. Hence the frequent requests that I divulge how much better my sex life is now that I’ve leaped out of the hookup zone.

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that random hookups can be awful. Take it from someone who has been ghosted more than the Queen Mary, given multiple UTIs thanks to unmanicured fingernails, and treated by many selfish idiots more like a jerk-off sock than a human woman with sexual needs of her own. For years, I suffered through bad sex because I was led to believe that this is simply the nature of casual sex. It’s not meant to be exactly what you want. Men are obviously going to be unaffectionate and less caring, and as a straight woman, you can’t criticize any of it because this is what you signed up for. The only way out is to get a boyfriend. Only with a boyfriend can your sex life be exactly what you want. Orgasms aplenty, affection, oral sex, etc.

Here’s my belief. So many of us, heterosexual women especially, think we need a deep emotional connection to have good sex, when really, we just need to have sex with grown-ass, responsible adults. Adults who know how to treat their sexual partners like people.

I realized that a lot of my insecurities and issues with partaking in casual sex stemmed from internalized misogyny.

Once I started meeting men who understood my needs and were mature enough to know that cuddling after fucking doesn’t mean that I now think we’re engaged to be married, I found that casual sex was actually pretty damn good. I unlearned the years of emotional repression taught to me as a woman who sleeps with men. I then learned more about myself and realized that a lot of my insecurities and issues with partaking in casual sex stemmed from internalized misogyny.

We’re conditioned more than we’d like to think, and criticizing casual sex (deeming that it’s never going to be as good as relationship sex) is basically slut-shaming. Something I was guilty of doing to myself for many years, without realizing it. Worse than that, this conditioning lets certain types of men (I believe we’re still calling them fuckboys) get away with being emotionally repressed idiots. These guys are able to manipulate the system because we continue to push the belief that this is the nature of the beast.

If you disagree, that’s totally fine. You don’t have to partake in casual sex, and you don’t have to love it if you do. I’m simply here to burst your bubble if you’re under the impression that getting into a relationship will vastly improve your sex life. It might in some ways, but not as much as you think.

If you’re single and horny, you don’t have to wait. You can work on having a great sex life now, even if it is with some schmuck you have no future with. Be safe while you do it, trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid to let your partner know exactly what it is you want, physically and emotionally. It is your right to have an enjoyable sex life, regardless of your relationship status.