Tri-Colour Sex Diary: Dating app hookups helped me become a strong, independent woman

Learning that alone doesn't have to mean lonely

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Last September, I was in a full-speed spiral downward. I was switching ADHD meds and hadn’t had a break from work or the busyness of life all summer (and, as it turns out, I wouldn’t catch one either). Oh, and my summer fling was about to dump me through a cruel silence.

He was cheating on me too, but I didn’t find that out until November. A few months prior, my boyfriend of exactly a year ended our relationship on our anniversary. Before then, I had been in and out of short-term flings or doing the friends-with-benefits thing with various somewhat-strangers.

I was incapable of setting and keeping emotional boundaries with my partner, whoever it was at the time. September arrived, and time was running out fast for me to get it together.

I was a walking emotional crime scene. I felt I was too dependent, clingy, and unsure of myself to be loved. Nobody would stick with this. There was no constant in my life—except myself. Based on this fact, I made a decision to shut the world out indefinitely. Finally, the time had come for me to find genuine independence and stability—whatever that meant.

The first few weeks were rough. I spent night after night sobbing and sniffling quietly on the couch as my housemates played videogames. I couldn’t make meaningful conversation with anyone, but I couldn’t be alone either.

At some point, I found myself scrolling Tinder and Bumble. I felt guilty at first, knowing I was supposed to be alone and dealing with my problems on my own. Despite that, I got a bunch of matches and messages quickly.

The first match I met up with in person was physically not my type at all. Nothing like the sturdy, built man I’d been loving on the past few months, but not a twig either. I immediately knew we weren’t going to click with the same kind of spark I’d been mourning since the breakup. Instead of feeling disappointment or regret, though, I felt relief. It would be easy to keep my emotions out of it. It would just be about sex.

He had a thing for the show Suits, and I just wanted to snuggle. The first night we hung out, we binged countless episodes while spooning on the couch.

Before meeting in person, we’d talked about what we were each looking for and seemed to be on the same page. We wanted something to keep the lonely away. He was a respectful guy, understanding my boundaries and keeping his hands outside of my clothes. I kept dozing in and out, feeling at ease being in someone’s arms. Even my busy brain was calm. Around 3 a.m., I picked up my phone and opened the Uber app. Noticing what I was doing, he asked if I wanted to stay over. Exhausted and not wanting my own empty bed, I said yes.

His confidence and skill at snuggling told me he was as well-versed in the casual routine as I was. But he didn’t try to take off my clothes, and didn’t make any first real move. Eventually, I kissed him just before we drifted to sleep. It was a tiny kiss, but enough to satisfy us both.

I didn’t sleep well, but morning came soon enough. Taking the lead again, morning breath and all, I assumed my favourite pose. I got on top of him and sat there for a second, looking at him and running my fingers through his hair before lying down with my head above his shoulder. Here, I could separate my emotions and body.

Eventually, after cuddling, I began to kiss him and took off my own shirt. I was ready to explore someone new.

This marked the first of many emotionless sexual experiences I would end up having. The saying “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else” really did work for me. That year, I built myself into a confident, resilient, and emotionally stable woman.

My breakup and the hookups that followed acted as catalysts for bigger change. Without the emotional distractions of a partner in my life, I began to actually focus in class. Going to the gym became my favourite part of the day. When I went home for Christmas, my mom (knowing only that I was single) said I was “more powerful without a boy around.” She was right. Once I started to see it too, I just climbed higher and faster. At some point, I started to be genuinely happy.

Part of the human condition is needing physical contact. Some of us need it more than others—I definitely need a lot. When I stopped beating myself up for wanting sex and separated the physicality of it from emotionally attaching to my partner, I met a new version of myself.

What started as an obliterating breakup ended with the resurrection of the best version of myself: an independent woman who still gets lots without giving up anything. The big lesson underneath it all was that being alone is important—but it doesn’t have to be lonely.

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