I'm in my early twenties, and I've had sex with almost a hundred people.
I've fucked pretty close to a hundred women and men. I remember about half of their faces, and a very small handful of their names.
An emotionless sex drive steers you into some pretty dark corners. I've persistently ditched friends or parties to jerk off, unless there was an opportunity to fuck. Sex was more like masturbating in the dark than any act of making love, especially since most rendezvouses involved brief eye contact and were normally in the dark. I wouldn't call it dehumanizing, as I was quite aware of my existence, along with that of the other sweaty, naked human being by my side. But I might call it unnerving.
Growing up, I realized fairly early on that gender played no part in who I was attracted to. Male or female, if someone was good-looking, they were good-looking, and that was that. But I found it difficult to talk about these feelings with anyone — as far as I knew, there was no one like me in the entirety of New Jersey. Coming out as homosexual seemed difficult enough for the few brave souls I knew who had the backbone to do so in high school. So trying to explain my sexuality to a bunch of narrow-minded jocks definitely wasn't going to work. Also, even if you have a fluid sexual orientation, people tend to insist that you're either gay or straight in the end. So I kept my sexuality to myself, instead cultivating a funny-fat-guy persona throughout high school.
I remained sexually inactive until I was eighteen, when I decided that I really needed to get laid before high school ended. And it wasn't too hard. Anyone who's been involved with high-school theater knows it's full of the horniest kids around. I lost my virginity in an orgy-like cast party in my basement. It started with chugging cheap, plastic-bottle vodka, which led to playing spin the bottle, which led to a group make-out session, which ended up with about ten of us on two air mattresses in various states of nakedness. Check.
I dropped about fifty pounds en route to college, so freshman year was like entering a new world. I wasn't just that guy who was there for a laugh anymore. My "number" jumped from one to nine in less than a year; I simply attributed this explosion to excessive drinking and years of pent-up frustration. I slept with another guy for the first time; I fucked this annoying, heavily Republican girl from Texas with an Obama condom; and I got a blowjob from a random woman at the bar near our college that didn't card. In my mind, this was all just part of college life. Sophomore year came and went, and I slowed down a bit, settling at a "modest" twelve, before entering my third year of college.
Looking back, it was during my junior year that sex became a more routine part of my life. I studied abroad in London, which fanned the flames. One, because British accents are pretty much verbal porn, and two, because I started to develop a bit of an anxiety problem. I found that going to another country on your own can be terrifying and lonely, especially when your flatmates are all middle-of-the-road kids from Penn State spending their four months abroad looking for bars that play American football, while the rest of the European population seems to distrust you just for being American. I didn't make many close friends, and spent most nights at local pubs.
To cope, I started smoking, pack after pack, to the point where I was chain-smoking enough to vomit, but even that didn't cut it. So instead, I learned to use sex as a coping mechanism. While I was having sex, I wasn't worrying. I kept telling myself that I should be having as much fun as I could during my four months abroad, and sex was fun, plain and simple. I had my first threesome with two random girls I met at a James Blake concert. I engaged in public sex for the first time, drunkenly, in a park in East London. I went to a burlesque club that was really more of a sex party. When I began to travel throughout Europe, I made a game of how many countries I could get laid in.
While my European excursions sounded glamorous, I returned to the States with deep-rooted anxiety, a newfound culture shock and a reestablished "number" of thirty-three. Also, I was suddenly an adult. At twenty-one, I was graduating in a year, taking as many credits as I could each semester, interning, and working to pay New York City rent and my student loans. Everything seemed to sink in at once, and I wasn't getting anything done.
It was at that point that sex became a mandatory part of my life. When I didn't have the time to make it to a bar, I turned to online resources and my right hand. (This was also my first time not living in a dorm since college, so masturbation was as easy as sleeping — or in my case, easier.)
NEXT: "I started to recognize other sex addicts through their constant reposts on Craigslist."
With any kind of addiction, you generally don't realize you have a problem until things get way out of hand. In retrospect, I have to laugh at the fact that 350GB of my computer's memory was torrented porn, and that actually I spent hours separating the videos into alphabetized folders. But at the time, my three-hour masturbation sessions seemed completely normal, because they were the times I was most happy — or, really, the times I was able to block out my stress.
The problem was, I built up a tolerance. So when porn and the occasional random hookup failed to satisfy me, I headed for internet hookup sites — sites where a plethora of cocks, and tits, and asses were displayed on the home page. On several occasions, I turned to personals on Craigslist for a quickie. In doing so, I started to realize that there were hundreds of people just like me. I started to recognize other sex addicts through their constant reposts on Craigslist, with headings like "Horny Dad in Search of Son," in Gramercy, or the Midtown "Cougar on the Prowl" — people paying others to spit on them, people with fetishes for crying men, hosts of weekly sex parties. I became enveloped in this world of obsessively horny New Yorkers, and anything that didn't fit into this world seemed less important to me.
It wasn't until about a year ago that I realized I had to stop. By that point, masturbation when I woke up was the only surefire way to make sure that my morning wouldn't be miserable. One afternoon, as I was going at it, I received a message from a forty-year-old banker in the West Village, which simply read, "ur hot, letz fuck now." Grammar held no influence over my arousal; after I finished at home, I quickly hopped on the subway, and in a few hours, I was in an idyllic state of sweaty bliss. I left the banker's apartment feeling so good that I headed to the bar for a drink. There, I started making eyes at a less-attractive Courtney Love, who was soon inviting me back to her place.
On the subway ride home, my anxiety hit me like a pickaxe to the chest. My blood started pumping extremely fast, and I felt heat rush over my body. I started thinking about all of the things I still needed to get done for the next day, and then began to think back on my day. Which I had spent, in its entirety, looking for and having sex. I was ignoring my friends' calls and texts. I was two months behind on rent. I was on the verge of failing two classes. I was constantly on my phone checking messages for sex, but my inboxes for both school and work had over fifty unread emails. I wasn't getting things done because I was too busy with sex… which was my escape from the fact that I wasn't getting things done.
I felt sick for the rest of the ride, and when I got home, I deleted all my accounts on the hookup sites, and wiped my computer clean of any sex-related files — even the regular movies with sex scenes.
As my stress levels subsided, my anxiety did too, as well as my need for sex. Over the past year, sex has become something different for me. It's no longer a device to escape. My last few sexual encounters were enhanced by eye contact, a general background on who I was fucking, and the ability to just hang around after sex. You know — those things that come as second nature to the sexually active majority of the world. And while I'm having less sex, I'm now having better sex, not out of a desire to flee, but out of a genuine interest in the person I'm having sex with. I'm really glad that I can now see the difference.