I have used sex to get love. And I've used sex to get sex. I've used sex to feel hot. I've used sex to feel good, to feel powerful. I've used sex to get care and affection. I've used sex for touch. I've used sex because I really just wanted him to like me.
I always believed that I was broken for lacking the delicious inner and outer boundaries espoused by fierce girlfriends and strong women in French films who kept sex at bay so men could pursue it, and weak for lacking the strength required to withhold the need to be loved. I longed to be aloof and blasé about a man's affections—some people call this "game" but to me, withholding was the ultimate in female agency and French af.
Hookup culture and the ease with which sex could be accessed kind of fucked up my lifelong dream of eventually making a man work for it! At some point in the early 00s, it seemed like he'd never have to, so even when I'd state up front that I wanted more than sex, I'd resort to using sex for love anyway (then feel disappointed and empty when I could tell that our sex was purely transactional). I say this knowing that I didn't always end up liking the guy, and truthfully more often than not, 99% of the men I dated via apps or bar hookups turned out to be dudes I'd never be able to fall in love with—and isn't that the real fear of men? don't they protect their simplistic natures in the face of our depth and beauty? aren't they rebelling against their mother's wombs, unconsciously railing against separation from women in ways that must feel interminably lonely? Or is that just what I tell myself in the face of rejection?
AND YET, I never stopped wanting love and affection, (even when I fucked their brains out and intimidated the hell out of them) because I craved love with all my being. Owning and voicing those desires, both for love and for sex, is the greatest source of my agency today. I am not a victim of my beauty, or my sex, or my desire for love. Now when I say I want more, I own it, even if the guy isn't able to provide it. I feel empowered knowing what I want even as I often feel lonely and frustrated in search of it.
My version of feminism is the one where women are messy, sexy, responsible, empowered, and whatever else they fucking want to be and where sex isn't relegated to a place of weakness and dependency (even as I admit my own weakness and dependency) because one of my greatest sources of power is my sexual freedom and agency in choosing and wanting it. And still, I'll admit that, with some exceptions, I still really hoped he would like me.