Say you’ve got a huge crush on someone, but for reasons beyond you, your relationship with them is utterly doomed. And just what is it that could irrevocably condemn any hope of romance?
Well, they fucked your friend. And you’ll be damned before you take your friend’s “sloppy seconds.”
Sloppy seconds, as defined by Urban Dictionary, means “shagging a cunt minutes after the previous guy, using his cum as lube.” But in a more ubiquitous sense, the term is a petty, outdated insult intended to ridicule a friend who had sex with someone, but only after you did.
And even if you haven’t mocked a friend for sleeping with a past partner, you’ve probably encountered tension for hooking up with someone your friend has already been with.
For decades now, the snub has been primarily tossed around by crude, barely post-pubescent young men. A dude among dudes might slight his buddy for getting into bed with a woman he had first, perhaps asserting some type of mistaken ownership over the woman’s body even after he's no longer sleeping with her.
In the sociological book Queer Masculinities, authors Landreau and Rodriguez note that this is because some men may have a homophobic reaction to sexual engagement with a woman directly after another man … even when that sexual engagement happens days, weeks, months or millennia later.
My male coworker, Waylon, confirmed this when he confessed to me that a homophobic impulse may be why the stigma of “sloppy seconds” taints his perception of a woman who sleeps with his buddy.
“After a girl sleeps with my friend, even though I know that she doesn’t have my friend’s goo on her, I still envision my friend’s goo on her,” Waylon says.
Does this make him think less of her?
Sure does. "If it's a disgusting dude that she's been with, then yes, it changes how I see her," he tells me.
Anyone with eyes or hands or skin could easily see how this isn't the most adaptive way of thinking. Judging women on which of your friends they've slept with benefits no one (especially you), and instantly outs you as a blind subscriber to the ol' Madonna-Whore complex, the sadly ignorant belief that all women should be pure as freshly driven snow … until they're with you. That expectation is not only sexist in its effort to control and subdue female sexuality, but it's just plain idiotic.
A far better, and more attractive approach, would be to accept that a woman's past sexual history has no bearing on you. Believing it does is a narcissistic, teenage method of self-sabotage; of denying yourself the thrill, pleasure and satisfaction of (consensually) being with someone you're attracted to out of fear.
Oh, and since we're on the subject of internalized homophobia and what constitutes heteronormatively "manly" sexual behavior here, the "manly" thing to do would be to say "I don't give a shit who that girl's been with, she's mine." No fear, no internalized what-not, just "I like her."
… Provided she hasn't been too dissuaded by your imbecile friend group who plays by the dating logic of 14-year-old boys circle-jerking it to the Sears Fall 2012 catalog in the locker room.
However, internalized homophobia is only one reason men take issue with sloppy seconds. For some, sloppy seconds is a protection against a fragile self-image. As Zach, a male friend of mine, explains, “I don’t want my friend to think less of me because I pursued someone that he discarded. Being called out for that would be a serious blow to my ego.”
And we all know the male ego is about as fragile as an eggshell on a bed of lilies, so it seems that blow would be fatal.
Women aren't off the hook, though. They too often find it distasteful to fuck a guy who’s been with one (or more) of their friends. However, for girls, the aversion often comes from a different place — the fear of hurting feelings or betraying the bonds of ladyhood.
Still, the concept of ownership comes into play.
Does Mandy own Tim because they fucked twice six years ago? Is it for her to say what he does with his body, or what her friend Samantha does to it? Sure, if your thinking is adolescent. But for the rest of us, the answer is a resounding "shit, no."
In either case, sometimes sloppy seconds scenarios are utterly unavoidable. For Waylon, who spent his years as a bachelor in a tiny town with a limited dating pool, he had “no choice but to become eskimo brothers with [his] buddies.”
Waylon's group of friends was so small and inextricably intertwined that his only options were women who had been around the mutual-friends block. Interestingly, this forced him, a man of ordinarily competitive instincts, to become desensitized to a culture of “sloppy seconds.” While he was initially hesitant to share tubes, he got over it real fast once he realized it wasn't benefiting him, or the women he was interested in, to think that way. People can change!
The ironic thing here is that most men and women in the dating scene want to find people in their own networks. That’s why nearly every social media site recommends “people you may know” based on your mutual friends, and why someone came up with Bumble, an entire dating app based on finding romantic partners who know the same people you do.
That's because there’s a comforting certainty in knowing that a friend you trust has vetted the stranger you may expose your genitals (and possibly your heart) to. In fact, that's why my lady-killer pal Josh exclusively pursues my female friends after I introduce him.
Josh has found that he’s “way more successful when I have a girl friend to vouch for me. It gets me past that initial hurdle of proving I’m not a serial killer, which is crucial to getting laid.”
As Josh has discovered, it’s much more difficult to inch your way to the bone-zone without some intimate connection to that person’s social circle.
So instead of spurning sloppy seconds, let’s embrace them.
In a more modernized view of “sloppy seconds,” I suggest we prefer our partners have been taken for a test drive. After all, we want to know whether or not that person is worth spending our time on. We want forewarning of extreme fetishes, STDs, and general geometry of the penis/pussy.
While our cultural conversations about sex are constantly changing, the concept of sloppy seconds has remained as a means of calling “dibs” on a person. But this outdated stigma must not prevail. Instead of maintaining possession over someone we don’t want to fuck anymore, let us celebrate one another’s genital conquests.
There should be no shame in sharing with a friend.