Ethical Sex leads to better Hook Up Sex

Sexy man with sleeves tattooes holding his partner's face while he passionately kisses her

I recently interviewed a professional ethicist called Gordon on my podcast ‘The Art of the Hook Up’. I hoped he’d give me an insight into ethical sex, and whether it’s worthwhile. I was surprised to discover that, like me, Gordon doesn’t always follow the rules! And over time, we’ve both learned that putting ethics first has benefits for our sex lives.

Imagine you’re meeting a new playmate. You’re twenty minutes into a conversation about your kinks, when you realise you don’t find them attractive. What to do next? You could tell them immediately and risk a scene. Perhaps you wait until after you’ve shagged them, just to be sure. Or maybe it’s all too hard – you sneak out the back door, under the pretence of visiting the bathroom.

Sometimes it’s the other way around – perhaps you’re attracted to someone, but they don’t do hook ups. Is it okay to pressure them to change their mind? Or let them believe you’re starting a relationship? We don’t always walk away, even when we know we should.

Sex is full of moral dilemmas. I’ve experienced these situations, and I haven’t always acted responsibly. Sometimes being honest feels awkward, or even impossible.

Ethics isn’t about being self-righteous

I’ve always felt iffy about people who say they’re "one of the good guys". Gordon agrees that talking about ethics isn’t the same as being ethical; in fact, it could mean the opposite!

“There’s one of those ‘he doth protest too much’ situations going on there,” he says. “If a person comes up to me and says, ‘I’m a very ethical person,’ I’m going to be very suspicious of that person right off the bat.”

We don’t truly know what people are like until we have a chance to observe them. So perhaps avoid grand statements on first dates; focus on your actions instead.

It isn’t about following the ‘rules’…in fact, there aren’t any

When it comes to moral values, we often fail to consider the "why". Mostly, we’re doing what everyone else does, or acting out of fear because we don’t want to look bad. But Gordon says that acting ethically means thinking about your situation and trying to make sure everyone ends up better off.

“Ethics is successful decision making,” he says, “which is to say that you have a clear understanding of what it is you actually want to achieve. I don’t mean just the short-term outcome, but also the long-term outcome and how that fits into your life as a whole.”

There aren’t any simple rules; lying to your date to get what you want will make them feel bad, but so will being brutally honest if you don’t think they’re attractive. And it’s about more than just the short term; pressuring someone into sex might feel okay for a day or so, but bother you years later, when you recall the people you’ve hurt. Working out what to do means thinking about the whole picture.

Gordon says it’s not supposed to feel straightforward. “Ethics isn’t important when there’s an obvious good answer and an obvious bad answer, right? Because when we just know, it’s easy.” Feeling conflicted is a normal part of the process. 

Sometimes it’s about learning to deal with rejection

Rejection can bring out the worst in us. I’m prone to hours of angst when things don’t work out with someone new. It’s easy to feel resentful, and take it out on others, when things don’t go our way.

Gordon admits that he’s taken rejection badly in the past. He says, “All the time, I was angry because I felt like I deserved to be treated better. I was the nice guy, so why wasn’t I getting what I wanted? Turns out what I was doing wasn’t actually that nice.”

Blaming our partners for rejecting us might help us feel better in the short term, but it doesn’t help us deal with our feelings. "Yeah, it’s a defensive reaction. It’s like, I have a whole bunch of emotion sitting on my shoulders that I can’t get rid of, because I’m not willing to process it. And therefore, I’ll just get angry at where it came from, or where I think it came from."

We’re not all designed to get along, and rejection is a normal part of the dating experience. If hearing ‘no,’ feels unbearable, maybe it’s time to think about why, and how to deal with it. Ethical sex means learning to handle rejection constructively.

Ethical sex leads to better sex, and a better life

At the end of the day, why be ethical at all? Why not get what we want, and forget about everyone else? If we lie to get laid, ghost when we’re not feeling a connection, or cheat on our partners, does it really matter? 

I think it does. Firstly, as we said earlier, treating other people badly has nasty psychological effects in the long term – on us, and them. When we lie and cheat to get what we want, we often lose out. “One, it’s probably not gonna work,” Gordon says. “And if it did work, you wouldn’t be getting the person you were after, would you?”

When it comes to great sex, connection is key. Shagging someone you don’t care about, while knowing you’re about to hurt their feelings, leads to anxiety and distraction. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you’re lying! Worse, our partners often sense it too. A play session where nobody trusts one another makes for very bad sex.

Without ethics, true satisfaction is missing. It’s a hollow victory, compared to the connected, consensual adventures we all deserve.

Ethics means better sex…but you need to make the effort

Gordon recommends working out what you really want first. “Spend the time – and don’t let me give you the impression that I think this is easy or painless – but spend the time figuring out what you want as a person, right now. So, this is a time where we sit down and we go, ‘Am I happy about how I treat other people? What’s been going well for me in my sex life and my dating life? What’s been going badly? And how have I contributed to that?’ This is good learning stuff.”

Getting in touch with what we need, and how we feel about ourselves, is always a good exercise…and thanks to Gordon, I’ve discovered it might boost our sex lives, too. When it comes to ethics, doing your best does make a difference.

Georgie's book 'The Art of the Hook-Up' is your guide to a Successful sex life, with practical, ethical skills for casual sex and online dating. The book has a 5 star rating on Amazon and reached #1 in the Sexuality category the week it launched. Want to grab a copy? Click here to find out more!


Have your say! Login to comment.
  • allinmymind


    More than a month ago

    There are no rules for ethics that's true. To turn around and use the word morals straight after that statement is misleading. There are rules for morals, not ethics. If you are not religious use the word ethics instead perhaps.

  • Blissicious256


    More than a month ago

    Yay!! So many people both sexes don’t get this. I can spot it a mile off and everyone’s is wondering why they don’t get any. A hint peeps. Using pet names with someone you don’t know is actually very disrespectful and objectifying

  • Naughtydouble2


    More than a month ago

    I think the key is to be always honest with your self We not responsible for others and accept what is

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