We’ve all had hook-ups that were a bad idea, but let’s be honest: in hindsight there were probably enough red flags to swag up the Kremlin. Hopefully you’ve learned from experience and have a checklist of your own to work from, in terms of vetting prospective partners. In case you haven’t, I asked some of my friends to help out. You should NOT hook-up with a person if…
– They fetishize who you are, or suggest that you’re better than other “people like you” (where “people like you” is a marginalised life/identity). “I’ve had people say, ‘You’re from South America? That’s so hot.’” Or they’ve said something like, “You’re a trans woman? Pardon me for saying this but you look so good!” I’ve gone through with such hook-ups and can attest that they were TERRIBLE IDEAS.” (AB)
– They say “you’re not usually my type.” This is a “neg”—thanks, asshole pick-up artists, this is actually a useful term!—that is, a negative remark wrapped in a back-handed compliment, designed to provoke the hearer into working harder to prove themselves. It may also be phrased as “I don’t normally like people (with tattoos/who are fat/who are lawyers/with beards).” “Specific to my career I get the guys who are ‘willing to overlook’ that I’m a stripper/burlesquer/nude model. Am I supposed to be grateful?” (Rebecca)
– They assume things about your sexuality and what you might be up for, based on stereotypes. Big people are often assumed to be sexually dominant, and vice versa, which means that if you’re a big dude, you’ll feel pressure to “sweep them off their feet,” or if you’re an Asian woman, they’ll think you’re submissive, etc. In my experience there is a widespread assumption among cishet dudes that any woman who “sleeps around” is going to be down for anal. THIS SORT OF THING CAN ONLY END BADLY.
– They treat other people around you like crap, e.g. servers in restaurants, drivers on the road, etc. Of course they treat you well; they are trying to get into your pants! But what are they like if they think they have nothing to gain from the interaction?
– They try to talk you out of your boundaries, whether that’s safety measures (see below), not drinking any alcohol before driving, or something as simple as wanting extra whipped cream on your hot chocolate at Starbucks. “Yes, consent culture generally is lacking so this flag does crop up more often than some others but if you notice it, pay attention to it. It will often be a spoiler alert for later behavior. (Alex)
– They object to any safety measures you want to put into place. “I’ve always followed the pattern of checking his ID before we go back anywhere, texting a particular friend his name and the address where we’re going, and texting again when I’ve left or he’s left. It helps you feel as safe as you can and you can gauge whether they’re decent people by how they respond to you asking. If they laugh and think it’s stupid, red flag city.” (Ros)
– They can’t have a conversation with you, either online or in person, about what kind of things you’re both into sexually. “It’s fine if they don’t know and only have ideas, but if they just expect you to decide what y’all are doing then unless you’re into that it’s probably gonna be pretty dull and require more emotional effort than is worth it.” (Ruth)