When we see the so-called "walk of shame" in movies, it’s really funny. There's crumpled, dirty outfit from the night before that looks vulgar and out of place in the daylight. We see the character's face that says their hangover is killing them. Then there's the silent but quick walk that seems to say they want to get home as fast as they can, take a shower, and shut the world out for a couple of hours. They’re afraid someone will look them in the eye and be able to see that—gasp!—they just had sex with a stranger.
Casual sex isn’t a taboo anymore as it was for our grandparents, or even our parents. People are getting married later now and even rejecting the idea of marriage altogether. With apps like Tinder and Bumble, it’s so easy to “meet” someone, talk to them for a bit, and then agree to have sex with them, all in the span of a couple of days or even hours. It’s not about love or about starting a relationship: it’s just sex.
However, the reason why the walk of shame is still a thing is because, for a lot of people, casual sex comes with a heaping side of guilt. The reasons for feeling guilty depend on the person, of course, and on all the specific circumstances surrounding the situation. Maybe you feel guilty because you’ve been having too much casual sex lately, or you’re not so sure that the person you just hooked up with was the best person to do it with. The point is that, for most people, having sex with someone they’re not in a relationship with can be really emotionally stressful.
The main reason why you might feel guilty is that we are taught from a very early age that sex can be enjoyed as long as it's within a healthy and stable relationship. Unfortunately, this is particularly true for women. We are taught that we need to take care of ourselves and our bodies, which means we can’t just go home with some random guy we met at the club or while we were swiping on our phone. Sex should be the reward a man gets after pursuing and wooing you for weeks or months. It shouldn’t be just “given away” at the first chance. So, when we go home with a stranger with no other intention other than to have sex with them, all those teachings come out to play, making us feel guilty about something that isn’t necessarily wrong. Even if no one else knows about it, you shame yourself for what just happened.
Of course, even if you’ve gotten rid of ideas like these and you believe that women and men should be able to explore their sexuality equally with no one shaming them about anything, there’s still other aspects that might be making you feel bad after a hookup. Maybe you were so drunk when it happened that you don’t remember some things about the night, or perhaps you didn’t use protection and now you’re thinking about all the possible STDs that you might have by now for not being careful enough. These are serious things to worry about because they could have long-term consequences, something that you definitely weren’t considering a few hours ago.
If you can relate to these scenarios, you should think about what it is about yourself or the situations that you put yourself in that are making you engage in potentially dangerous situations. We all go out and party to have fun and meet new people, not to end up feeling miserable the next day. If you meet someone you like and you want to have sex with them, go ahead: there is absolutely nothing wrong about being free and exploring your sexuality. However, always make sure that you’re being responsible when you do it. That way, you don’t have to feel guilty about anything, and you can just keep having fun and having new experiences, learning a little bit more about yourself and what you want along the way.
Images by Ugur Araz