Why I Never Go Home With a Guy Unless I’m Planning to Have Sex With Him
Because I don’t want to put myself in a situation where my boundaries won’t be respected.
I read Sarah Stroh’s recent piece, Was It Rape or Something Else?, with great interest. Not only was it expertly written, but I could identify with her experience. She detailed the story of allowing a man to sleep at her place after a night of heavy partying. The man was pushy, and she, drunk and just wanting to go to sleep, ended up letting him spend the night in her bed.
She woke up the next morning to him touching her inside her panties. She enjoyed this, at least at first. But then, suddenly, his drawers were down and he was penetrating her without protection.
She went along with it even though she didn’t really want the sex. Is a woman even allowed to say no to intimacy when things have gone that far?
She ended up feeling violated afterward. Worse, she felt manipulated. She’d been clear with the guy from the beginning that he couldn’t sleep over but had let him in to use the bathroom. He had then made himself comfortable and asked to sleep over. The result was this.
He’d kept pushing and pushing. Things get blurry when alcohol is involved — and even stickier when two strangers end up in a house alone together, not to mention a bed.
The reason I could relate to Stroh’s piece so much is because I’ve had similar experiences with men in my past. After a night on the town, a stranger would claim he just wanted to come back to my place to talk. He’d end up staying the night because I’d let him convince me that all we’d do in the bed was sleep.
Whatever he had to tell me so that he could get his body into my apartment — or convince me to come to his. Whatever he had to say to get us into bed together.
I was young and often went home with men because I indeed wanted to continue to talk to them. Or I let them come over to my place because I sincerely liked them and wanted them to like me, too. I just wasn’t ready to have full-on penetrative sex with them yet.
Maybe I was up for the touching and petting part. I’d get turned on. But when it came to outright sex, I wasn’t down. But we were already in bed. Suddenly, his pants would be off. I’d feel too embarrassed to tell him to put them back on — as if it was somehow my fault he had a hard-on.
I’d think, Oh, whatever, let’s just do this. Worse, I’d ask myself how I could say “no” at that point? Tell the guy to stop? Now? Was that even possible? How rude of me!
I wouldn’t enjoy the sex, and I’d feel used afterward.
Once, when I was in college, I literally woke up with a guy penetrating me. We’d fallen asleep on deck chairs out on some patio after drinking. I woke up with him on top of me, his penis inside of me with no condom on.
Luckily, when I told him to stop, he did. But the fact that he thought it was okay to penetrate me without my consent while I was sleeping was unnerving.
Conservatives will say that I brought such experiences on myself. This is why young women are told not to go out by ourselves at night, not to walk home alone, and never to go home with strange men. Because bad things happen to women who get themselves into such predicaments. If a girl’s so stupid to get herself into such a situation, she’s asking for it.
It’s not like I hadn’t been told any of this growing up. My mom declared point-blank when I was fifteen years old and just beginning to go on dates with “boys” that these boys would try to use me. They would try to have sex with me but wouldn’t care about me at all.
And of course, like many young people, I threw my mother’s advice into the garbage. I defied her rules and told myself I was allowed to do whatever I wanted. Once I went off to college and even afterward, it was a common occurrence to go out, spend the night drinking, then invite some guy back to my place.
But then, such uncomfortable situations would occur. I’d spend half the night up, telling a man “no” over and over. Or worse, that time I was asleep and woke up with a guy’s hard penis already inside of me.
After such encounters, the guilt would set in. Such bad experiences were all my fault. See, I brought this upon myself! I brought it upon myself because I was loose and easy.
Worse, I was a weakling. I didn’t speak up for myself. Men couldn’t help themselves. They were animals. I had to fend them off and if I didn’t, it was because I was a doormat.
I was. I felt almost like I owed men sex. And then I complained about it afterward? I was a floozy — and a spiteful floozy at that.
And then I learned my lesson. I finally set boundaries and made a rule: I would never let a guy come back to my place or go to his if I didn’t explicitly plan to have sex with him.
I first began to employ this rule after I divorced my husband. The first date I went on after our separation, I went out with a guy and we hit it off. He invited me back to his place to “look at the stars.” He even stated that I was welcome to sleep over if I wanted, but he assured me we didn’t have to have sex.
I started laughing. If I was going to sleep at his place, then we were definitely going to have sex. I wasn’t going to play that game of being half-naked in a bed with a man, telling him he could touch me there and there, but not there or there. We could do this and this but not that or that. If we were going to be in a bed together, we were going all the way.
And we did.
But then I had another experience with a man whom I met up with for a first date. He parked at my place and we walked to some nearby bars. We had a blast. However, I had already decided earlier in the night that I wasn’t interested in him any more than just as a friend.
The problem was he got plastered, and at the end of the night, he wanted to sleep at my place to sober up. He claimed he was too drunk to drive home. He was, but I told him no, he could call an Uber.
“I’ll stay on the couch. I promise I won’t bother you at all,” he said.
I didn’t have a lock on my bedroom door, and I’d learned the hard way that even if this guy started out on the couch, there was no way to keep him from ending up in my bed. I’d learned how difficult it is to argue with a man when I’m tired and tipsy myself. Honestly, I didn’t need the headache. I wanted to get a good night’s sleep. I expected he’d call Uber or Lyft to get home.
He didn’t. He got into his car and drove off. Then I felt terrible. I felt like I had put him in a dangerous situation. What if he got into a car accident? Worse, what if he killed an innocent person while driving drunk?
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have his license plate. I couldn’t call the police. I couldn’t sleep, worrying that he’d killed somebody or himself, and it was my fault.
But I had my rule. I didn’t let men sleep over if I didn’t want to have sex with them, period.
It would be awesome if we lived in a world where men and women weren’t at odds like this — where men actually respected women’s boundaries. Where men wouldn’t employ “code speak” (let me come in to use your bathroom/mind if I just crash?) when their desire is only to create a situation where a woman can’t say no to them.
But we do live in such a world. If women don’t want to get into such predicaments, we have to draw boundaries and have rules. But it sucks it has to be this way.
And yet, it is. That’s why I now try to avoid such situations altogether. If we’re not going all the way, we’ll sleep apart.
Other essays by Elle Silver cited in this story:
What If I Was Only Raped a Little?
Is penetration without consent still rape if it stops when you ask?