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The Millennial Handshake

She sits on the balcony, welcoming the sunrise while watching beams of light squeeze between the giant skyscraper-filled landscape. “I can so see myself out here every morning. I wonder what the rent is?” she thinks to herself, imagining how her drapes will look on his windows. Finding comfort in how his shirt feels against her bare skin, she brings her knees up to her chest, balances her heels on the edge of his patio chair and exhales deeply believing she has finally found the place where she truly belongs.

She grins as she envisions how the rest of the day will play out once she returns to his room and wakes him up. Knowing there is nothing sexier than a naked woman wrapped in his favorite dress shirt, with an “I want more” smile drenched across her face, she finds comfort and confidence in the thought of him being powerless to resist her.

“Should I stand in the doorway with my shoulder leaning on the frame? Shirt half-buttoned? No, only one button.” She then examines each one carefully, trying to determine the correct button for the job. Her final decision influenced by how much of her stomach she feels comfortable showing. Recognizing her confidence beginning to dwindle, she tries to restore it by focusing on her successes of the past.

“Last night, I nailed it!” she compliments herself as she recalls perfectly executing splits while on top of him. Something he probably never saw coming when he first introduced himself last night. “Cute and shy, huh?” she giggles to herself as she recites her motto: “Mother Teresa at the bar, Pornstar in the bedroom.” She knows those 13 muscles she pulled will take quite a while to heal, but it was totally worth it. “No one can top that performance, plus naked in his shirt when he wakes up? He’s hooked. Hmm… should I go with a mermaid or princess gown?” she debates as she scrolls the David’s Bridal webpage on her phone. “What goes better with my skin tone, ivory or champagne?”

The blanket she borrowed from the back of his couch provides warmth as she sips from her cup of “Morning After”-laced coffee, brewed with the aroma of hazelnut and a hint of… “I CALLED YOU AN UBER” (he shouts from the bedroom) ... regret.

Fifteen minutes later, she finds herself standing in the lonely hallway, seemingly banished from her former future residence. She bends down to secure the straps on her brand-new heels when she notices a draft. Her underwear is somewhere in that apartment. But where...? Her balled-up fist stops short of striking his door as she weighs her choices. She contemplates the potential benefit of being able to use the retrieval of her “favorite pair of underwear” as an excuse to reestablish contact, or show up unexpectedly at any given time should she not hear from him within the “no premature contact” or “hasn’t responded” commonly accepted time frame. Without giving proper attention to the doubt she felt, nor to the reason behind it, she settles on keeping this “right to return” pass in her back pocket.

First of all, interactions with someone you just exposed every inch of yourself to, then had sex with, should not be a complicated deliberation among rational-minded people. Second of all, her hesitation screams volumes (unfortunately, falling on deaf ears.) Feeling the need to reserve interactions for later use is her mind’s way of sending up several red flags. It’s a premonition of bad things to come. Keeping excuses in the back pocket is just another way of admitting the existence of doubt. More than likely, she picked up on some indication (red flag) that this man might not be the most trustworthy when it comes to wanting to be in a relationship lasting more than one night. She was able to recall, then evaluate his subtle mannerisms, indicating that things will eventually go wrong; then willfully ignored her own analysis; all within a matter of seconds. In a way, it proves that chasing after things you are unsure of, typically brings a future filled with pain. Ignorantly content with herself, she turns around and heads toward the elevators, accepting this as a hill not worth dying on.

“Did everyone decide to leave the building at the same fucking time?” she growls, impatiently hitting the down arrow button over and over again as if sending an SOS in Morse Code. For those of you who might not know, if you frantically press the elevator button 250 times within a minute, the elevator will get really annoyed and show up a lot faster. Or you can try hitting the button really hard 3-4 times to let it know that you’re serious and in a hurry. If neither of those methods work, try screaming: “COME ON!” as loud as you can, just in case it was taking a nap down on one of the lower garage levels. Probably not a bad idea to insult it by calling it a “piece of shit” just for good measure.

She tries to discreetly make her way through the lobby but the clanking of her heels on the marble floor manages to catch the attention of the doorman. “Have a great morning Ms. Stacy!” he says with an awkwardly arrogant smile. “How the hell does he know my name?” she wonders. Less than five steps away from the exit, memories from last night come flooding back. “Oh god!” she panics, too embarrassed to make eye contact with the same doorman from last night. “I’ll bet you have a tiny dick!” she remembers yelling at him. An accusation she felt was warranted at the time because he refused to let her steal a giant plant from the lobby.

It’s as if she had been catapulted from one dimension to another in the blink of an eye. Fifteen minutes ago, she was scrolling through wedding dress options, and now shamefully dumped into an UberPool because he was apparently too cheap to order an Uber Black. After a long and uncomfortable car ride, shared with a strange woman whose odor implies her fondness for extra raw onions, stale coffee and baccala, she finally arrives at her house. She gathers her purse, along with any dignity she has left, and makes her way to the sanctity of her forgiving bed.

Her bare body, no longer in a man’s dress shirt, is now covered in sweatpants, bunny slippers, and a hoodie. The radical difference in her current choice of attire, compared to earlier this morning, is an accurate depiction of how manipulative people can be in the presence of someone they are trying to impress. Needless to say, when you set a bar too high at the onset, almost everything falls short.

“He wasn’t even that great,” she scoffs, attempting to convince herself that none of this was worth her time reliving. “I did all the work and that dumb ass just laid on his back making the worst sex faces I’ve ever seen. It was like watching a chimpanzee suck on a sour apple Jolly Rancher while trying to catch its breath. “I was the one pulling every muscle between my legs,” she went on relentlessly. “Speaking of things between my legs, what kind of man is willing to only sacrifice 3 minutes of his precious time, frantically licking as if he were trying to solve that ancient riddle of how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Also, was jamming his fingers up there, as if he were searching for the quarter that vending machine stole from him, really necessary? And for fuck’s sake, would it have killed him to shave? If I’m going to suffer through these razor-burn inflicted temporary tattoos, I should have at least gotten something out of the whole ordeal. If men only knew the humiliating lesson plans females had to endure while learning how to give a great blow job… Well, let’s just say; men would be in a much worse mood if there was an activist group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Bananas.”

Her somber animosity transforms into excited optimism when she feels her phone buzzing from somewhere on her bed. Suddenly, her room looks like a Downy commercial, white linen flying through the air as she tears apart her bed desperately searching for her phone. “It’s gotta be him,” she convinces herself as she begins to get angrier, seemingly incapable of finding this preverbal needle in a haystack. “What the fuck, this fucking bed, how the fuck can a fucking phone get lost in this fucking 6-square fucking foot fucking mess, are you fucking kidding me?!” She begins to resent her bed for denying her those precious seconds of knowing who’s behind that message.

“I KNEW IT!” she cried out, bending her head back as if to thank the heavens for sending such a positive affirmation. “I knew there’s no way I could’ve read him wrong. He was so into me last night and, like an idiot, I let my insecurities get the better of me. He’s probably making sure I got home okay or thanking me for such an amazing night” she smirks. “Now I feel bad for thinking all of those negative things about him.” She swipes up to open her phone and navigates to the messages as she continues: “Wow, he didn’t even wait for the ‘three-day rule’ which means he doesn’t play games and wants to see me again tonight. I can shower and be ready in an hour if I really move fast. Oh! I’ve got the perfect outfit; I’ll wear that red dre…”

“Did you steal my watch?”...

“… Seriously?”

How could she have been such a bad judge of character? What amazingly impressive characteristics did he demonstrate within such a short period of time that convinced her to be comfortable enough to expose her vulnerabilities and allow a man she barely knew to enter inside her body? An aspect of physical and emotional acceptance that most (especially men) fail to recognize the significance of. Additionally, equal attention should be paid to the hygienic implications. Analogous to the story of The Strawberry & Toothpick (sounds like a children’s book that should never be written) which clarifies the fact that after you stick a toothpick inside a strawberry, the toothpick can easily be wiped off and it’s somewhat clean. Comparatively speaking, the hole in the strawberry, is much harder to clean out (try putting your kids to sleep with that bedtime story. The next morning when they repeat it to the rest of their kindergarten class, there’s a good chance they will be removed from the home).

However, personal hygiene, his attitude towards her, or her overzealous optimism are not the root cause of an obviously bad end result. An overall lack of respect for the significance of sexual intimacy and the ramifications that follow, are what this article focuses on.

Sex has somehow evolved into such an intimate-deficient interaction between two people, as demonstrated by our willingness to jump into bed with a person we know nothing about.

Is sex a big deal? It used to be. Women used to fortify their virginity, protecting it under lock and key (literally), opening only upon uttering the magic words “I do”. A coveted gift for the man who devotes the rest of his life to her before even being allowed to take it out for a test drive. It was only then that the heavenly gates would open leading them both down a path to what is supposed to be the most significant physical, emotional and pleasurable bond that two human beings could possibly create and experience together.

Today, millennials consider having sex as nothing more than their generation’s way of shaking hands. Since when did looking over your shoulder during reverse cowgirl become an appropriate time to introduce oneself? “It’s Stacy by the way” as she continues to impress herself with her unique ability to twerk at 8,000 RPM’s while on top of a man who is debating which one of his friends he’s going to screw over by using their name instead of his own.

Even though sex could still be a leverageable gift, reserved only for a man who is worthy and deserving, women have abandoned such principals believing they have been deemed “archaic” by those frustrated with such time-consuming rituals. Where did it all go wrong and how did we get this way?

Sexual suggestiveness promulgated by society has even managed to pressure women into approaching sex from a competitive standpoint. Don’t believe me? Think this is all some feminist crap? Turn on the tv and watch any reality show. One such show actually based the entire competition on contestants not being allowed to have sex with each other for the entire show. If they did, they automatically lost. Think about that for a second. These were men and women who were all complete and total strangers. Yet, when they found out that all they had to do in order to win a significant amount of money, was not have sex with any of the other contestants for the duration of the show, every single one of them completely lost their shit.

A woman’s resolve to preserve the sanctity of her body is being constantly threatened across all social media platforms by other women. Women who are more than willing to say “yes” to sex without requiring the traditional emotional and financial investment made by men in the past. Men who did so without a guarantee their efforts would be rewarded with a kiss at the end of a date, much less commitment-free, emotionless sex. Isn’t dating supposed to be the interview process and then sex the reward? Now, sex is the interview process and, if it was memorable enough, a date would be the reward? Seems like women kind of shot themselves in the foot on that one, doesn’t it?

Competition created by women, merely looking for immediate sexual gratification without commitment, eventually reduces the overall value of sex to zero. Imagine how busy you would be if you opened a shop with a sign out front that said: “Free Sex”. You tell me the difference between that and Tinder, because I don’t see one.

If women feel as if they have to compete sexually in order to win the attention of the guy that every other woman also seems to want, when does the competition end? If you truly felt like you had to place 1st in the Olympic Bed Gymnastics competition last night, doesn’t a part of you worry that you’ll be competing throughout the entire relationship?

Yes, people have sexual relationships with other people before meeting the right person, and yes, almost everyone nowadays has had a one-night stand, or a few “whoopsies” in their past. However, if you’re willing to give it out for free to whoever swipes yes, when Mr/Ms Perfect finally decides to show, you’re going to have a difficult time convincing him/her that the act of sex has any significant meaning/value for you. The ultimate gift one person can share with another loses credibility as being the ultimate gift. Now it’s just a strawberry no one wants to eat, riddled with a lot of holes in it.

Does the number of people we’ve been intimate with, impact how much we value ourselves? I guess a better way of putting that would be: have you ever lied about the number of people you’ve slept with? Or worse, have you ever lied to yourself in an attempt to preserve your perceived value of sex? Wearing a condom doesn’t count, or recycling people you’ve already slept with to avoid adding to your number? If so, perhaps you’re ashamed of what that number implies. You’re scared that the other person will judge negatively, based on whatever that number might be.

Studies have shown that couples engaged in long term, committed, monogamous relationships/marriages experience a far more pleasurable/rewarding sex life compared to those who don’t. Reaching a state of pure ecstasy is what actually makes sex so amazing. Achieving it is only possible when there’s a comfortable connection where you feel free to let go of insecurities and shyness. A place where you can feel safe to ask for what you want, and appreciate everything the other gives in return. But the most significant reward of all is the comfort found in knowing that the person you are with now, will be there tomorrow, proving that they truly appreciate every inch and not just trying to put on a show. It’s an experience that is impossible to find in a one-night stand.

With that being said, it’s your body and it’s your life. I believe we give a part of ourselves to every person with whom we choose to be intimate. Perhaps that’s the reason so many feel so empty inside. We’ve blindly given away so much of ourselves, hoping for the best. Being overly optimistic with a stranger, seems like a fool’s bet, yet people are still hurt and feel let down when things don’t work out.

Once we manage to recover from our most recent let down, we find ourselves attempting to abide by a new set of self-protective commandments. “Never again!” we convince ourselves with a renewed sense of conviction. It rarely lasts very long, as once again, we come face-to-face with a new opportunity and a new sense of purpose. The commitment we made to ourselves is quickly abandoned for this new and improved person who represents a greater potential for achieving happiness. Somehow, we believe our wounds have healed before the blood is dry. Pain quickly numbed by a new sense of hope, and once again, we appear to be more than willing to hand over as much of ourselves as possible without fear or hesitation. But why is it that we’re willing to give away a part of ourselves so easily? Do we not consider ourselves valuable? Perhaps we are too optimistic when it comes to believing in the potential for happiness in the future, that we willingly endure the pain felt today, and ignore the significance of the scars permanently left behind.

You are free to treat sex as meaningless or as meaningful as you wish, but never forget the price you have paid in the past for giving so much of yourself to the wrong person. Sacrificing for the wrong person has significant consequences. Once you’ve given so much of yourself away, it’s nearly impossible to get all of you back.

The counter experience would be forcing yourself to get to know someone before jumping into bed with them. It gives you both the opportunity to evaluate whether sacrifice is justifiable. Additionally, you’re more likely to weed out the shallow ones, those who aren’t serious about establishing a long-term, more meaningful relationship. Regret is inevitable, but you will definitely feel better about yourself knowing that you didn’t just hand over a part of yourself for nothing. Sex is supposed to be the first-place prize, but when you give it out to every kid that shows up to play, all you’re doing is handing out participation awards. I mean if you know you’re going to get a trophy regardless of how well you play the game, why ever give 110%...?

Until people are more committed to recognizing the significance of sexual intimacy and the impact that it has on ourselves on our lifelong quest for happiness, it will remain exactly that,: a game played by insecure people who are seemingly incapable of appreciating the greatest gift bestowed upon mankind. People will continue to lie, manipulate, and pretend to be something they are not, merely for the immediate gratification or potential long-term relationship. The question is: do you truly care about finding happiness? Or would you rather get played in a game?

Finding happiness involves a certain level of self-discipline and commitment to asking questions you want answers to. We are no longer willing to step forward and admit to someone how we feel about them. We avoid expressing our admiration in an effort to protect ourselves from a significant amount of potential heartache should those feelings not be mutual. Instead of having the courage to be upfront and honest about your feelings towards another, you treat them as a closely guarded secret that, if released too early, could potentially backfire (according to the rules of the game.) You don’t want to risk them arrogantly believing the intimacy was somehow a con and you the mark, thereby giving them the upper hand. I mean, seriously, taking your clothes off, completely exposing yourself in the most vulnerable positions, being viewed up close from every angle and exchanging fluids is one thing, but honesty and courage?… now that’s crossing the line.

The day has finally come to an end. She stares up at the ceiling trying to come to terms with the fact that, tomorrow morning, she won’t be sitting on that same balcony, watching that same beautiful sunrise. “I hope I never see that piece of shit again, the nerve of that…” She tried to fight her exhaustion by throwing out one last insult before fading out. Eventually, her eyes grew heavy and she began to drift off, hoping to be shielded from her conscious mind. She abandoned her self-gratifying insults for the option of finding the silver lining in it all before finally falling asleep: “At least I stole that fucker’s watch!”

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