5 Signs We’re Being Used for Sex. {Adult}

Via Kimberly Lo
on Jan 10, 2014
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The dangers of Angry Sex

“Booty calls”. “Friends with Benefits”. “Fuck Buddies”.

Whatever we chose to call them, there are relationships out there that are based primarily on sex.

In theory, I don’t have a problem with that: my overall philosophy is as long as all parties are consenting adults and no one is getting hurt, any sort of relationship that people chose to get into is fine.

However, I’ve recently had a number of friends and acquaintances come out of relationships where one party was only interested in sex and failed to tell the other. Worst of all, the other party believed that there was genuine love and connection in the relationship, when in fact it was all one-sided.

While I’ve found that no break-up is truly amicable, there is something especially upsetting and hurtful to learn that the person you thought you loved and had a real connection with, was with you only or primarily for sex. In a few cases, these experiences were downright traumatic. At the very least, as one friend put it, such experiences do little to help one’s self-esteem and self-worth as a person.

Not surprisingly, women are much more likely to be “used” for sex than men.

Speaking from my own experience, I simply cannot have sex with someone for a period of time and not love them. Blame it on hormones, the differences in how the female brain is wired, etc., but most women I know feel the same way.

Men, however, tend to be different. As one male friend of mine put it, “If it’s an offer, I’ll take it.” Crude, but he’s not alone in this. (And just to be fair, I have had a few male friends who were in relationships where they were used as sexual objects by women.)

In any case, there are usually certain signs if your significant other is only interested in sex. While this list is no way definitive, these are the ones that have come up over and over again in conversation.

1. Your partner only compliments you in physical terms.

Everyone enjoys a compliment every now and then. It’s nice to hear that you are pretty or handsome or even that you have a nice ass from time to time. However, if all you ever get in the way of compliments is comments about how you look, it may be a sign that your partner does not think about you beyond  the physical.

Another major sign is if your partner constantly refers to your body (or specific parts of your body) in crude terms. (i.e., “tits”, “pussy”, etc.) While there is nothing wrong with occasional “dirty talk”, constantly referring to your body in such a way, especially if you are not suggesting it, may be your partner objectifying you and having little interest in what lies between your ears.

2. You never meet their friends.

This should be a huge red flag. My philosophy is that even if someone is “only” my friend, it’s just basic manners to introduce them to my other friends especially if we happen to be in public together and run into someone.

Frankly, if you are having sex with someone and they do not even acknowledge your existence to their friends, take it as a sign that you are not “the one” for them.

3. They want to constantly role play.

Again, I am not the sort to dictate what anyone should do in the privacy of their bedrooms. If role playing is your thing, then go for it. However, if your partner is the one who is constantly suggesting role play, wants you to pretend to be someone else, and only wants to have sex with you if you are in role, then the intimacy you crave may not be there.

4. They aren’t there for you.

I’m not talking the little things but major things like the death of a pet, the first day of a new job, etc.

Ideally, a boyfriend or girlfriend is first and foremost a friend. Friends by their definition love you. They are there for you even if it is only in the form of a short text or email showing their support.

If someone is not there for you, then they do not love you. Even though it may be painful to acknowledge this and the temptation to make excuses for them may be strong, it really is as simple as that.

5. It’s very one-sided.

I was in a relationship once where I was constantly doing things for my then-boyfriend (i.e. I cooked for him, folded his laundry and picked up the bill the majority of the times we went out). He, on the other hand, seldom even said thank you, much less returned the favor.

Unfortunately, this is very common in relationships where one party is interested primarily in sex and the other wants a “real” relationship.

Often, asking the other party if they are only in it for sex, seldom results in an honest answer. The fact is, people lie, especially when it is in their best interest to do so.

Most of the time when we feel that we are being used for sex it is because we are.

As painful as it can be, extracting ourselves from such relationships is often the best thing we can do for ourselves.

While many of us make the mistake in thinking we can “make” someone love us by giving them our bodies, it simply is not the case.

To paraphrase Bonnie Raitt, it truly is impossible to make someone love us when they don’t. Loving or perhaps more correctly lusting for someone’s body is not the same as loving their mind. While there is nothing wrong with two people coming together to satisfy mutual lust, there is something inherently wrong and potentially damaging with loving someone physically and emotionally who does not return the feeling.

If it happens to be a case where there is uncertainty, perhaps go on hiatus for awhile and see if your former partner returns and more importantly, the reasons they cite for wanting you back in their life.

If they don’t come back, then please refrain from beating yourself up, feeling that there is some failing within yourself, or that somehow you are the one lacking as a person.

The truth is, we all deserve to be treated with a minimum amount of respect and love. As painful as it sounds it’s nonetheless true: none of us can ever truly lose someone we never had to begin with in the first place.


Relephant to this:

Can We Be Lovers & Not Have Sex?

Read This Before You Have Post-Break-Up Sex.

What the Hell is Going On in My Sex Life?

Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: elephant archives


About Kimberly Lo

Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor and freelance editor & writer based in Charlottesville, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework, travel, and photography. Connect with her on Facebook.


45 Responses to “5 Signs We’re Being Used for Sex. {Adult}”

  1. Scott says:

    <If someone is not there for you, then they do not love you. Even though it may be painful to acknowledge this and the temptation to make excuses for them may be strong, it really is as simple as that.>

    Thank you very much for stating this so clearly: it really hits home for me, not in terms of a FWB relationship, but re a friendship that seems to have run its course.

  2. KristinSLuce says:

    Well written, well said and very true in my opinion. Thank you for this.

  3. Karen katz says:

    as an older woman who experienced every kind of sexual experience-passionate consensual love affairs (the best), rape (the worse), a long term marriage, early promiscuity and now single hood and celibacy (hopefully not too long term), I feel like I can offer some wisdom here.

    a woman is not the same as a man. (duh)….that being said, a woman can derive a great deal of pleasure, power and passion from one of these "friendship with benefits" relationships, but not, I think, long term-at least not most women. Most women (and actually most men) derive their greatest pleasure from making love-juicy, delicious and intimate love-with someone whose heart embraces their heart.

    Our culture has never served women well-first there was the pressure to be perfect-a virgin until marriage, and then a passionate woman only within the boundaries of marriage. Now women are out in a sexual Wild West-the expectations are that they should be very sexually available, and that imprisons them in a different way. Of course the risk of unwanted pregnancy and STD's are never completely absent.

    So as in every thing, I would be mindful about my sexuality, especially as a young woman-never be coerced or shamed into doing anything, but also don't be afraid to take the occasional chance. Protect yourself, but don't place yourself into a box, unavailable to life's experiences.

  4. sum_gai says:

    How do you know all of this? Where are the studies? Where is the substantiation other than "As one male friend of mine put it, “If it’s on offer, I’ll take it.”?

    This kind of article has the potential to harm healthy relationships – it's awful, destructive advice.

    It's not a very mindful piece at all and I don't think it should exist on this site.

    "Most of the time when we feel that we are being used for sex it is because we are." How do you know that? Where are the numbers?

    This is a dangerous piece.

  5. JP says:

    I will throw a couple more:

    – not spending the night together. But if it happens, it will happen a the one being used so you can leave as soon as you can or want.

    – not willing to meet family

    – will never say words that can mislead (I love you, etc).

    A good point on the article; as long as both persons agree, it’s ok. Problem is that when one starts feeling other way (will happen eventually) and assumes the other one will end feeling the same.

  6. kimberlylowriter says:

    Thanks for your comments! I am glad you enjoyed it.

  7. Sebastien says:

    Well written and probably true most of the time. Most women have innate compassion and are in touch with emotions more than men (at least on average). This is a great quality of womankind which I admire. It is unfortunate and wrong that it is often turned against them. Perhaps because men have historically been more involved in life and death situation, they seem to have evolved a convenient emotional "off" switch, but that doesn't mean they cannot feel nor does it excuse the sort of behaviour discussed here. There are a lot of kind, emotionally connected men out there who could not engage in sex without having a genuine connection with their partner. I know. I'm one of them. And this, in turn, implies that they too can be hurt or used by less evolved people.

  8. kimberlylowriter says:

    If you disagree with my points, fine. However, I take issue that this is dangerous. How exactly is it?

    I don't claim to be an expert or a social scientist. I did not cite number or studies because this piece was not pretending to be an academic journal article.

    However, as someone who has been there more times than I wish to admit, I think it's dangerous to one's self-esteem and self-worth to be in a relationship where one person is only there for sex and the other believes or wants to believe there is more to it-i.e., love, affection, whatever.

    BTW, this has nothing whatsoever to do with healthy relationships. It's about one sort which I and many others do not consider healthy.

  9. kimberlylowriter says:

    Thanks, Scott.

    Yes, that is true in any relationship-romantic, friendship, etc.

  10. kimberlylowriter says:

    This is excellent advice. Thanks for your feedback and comments.

  11. kimberlylowriter says:

    I agree with these. All true.

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  12. kimberlylowriter says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    I know a lot of evolved men, too, who cannot have sex without having some sort of genuine connection. There are actually a lot of them out there.

  13. Tim says:

    I recently ended a FWB relationship because I felt like my female friend wanted more and was falling in love with me, and it made me uncomfortable. I really do love this person as a friend and I was there for her lately when crap hit the fan. This was my first experience with a real FWB arrangement, it worked for a while, but not for the longterm — which is really what I anticipated anyway. My experience with women and sex has been that often they will say that they are okay with a no-strings type of relationship, but that often turns out not to be true as demonstrated by their behavior and desire for a LTR. Personally I don't think I will pursue a FWB relationship again anytime in the near future — the risk of one of the people falling in love is too much and can hurt both people when it happens.

  14. Maria says:

    "This kind of article has the potential to harm healthy relationships – it's awful, destructive advice."

    What kind of "healthy" relationships would have the characteristics listed above?

  15. Gail says:

    Thank you for writing this piece, and I enjoyed reading the insightful comments from others. I, personally, do not feel that this article is "dangerous" in any way, shape, or form. On the contrary. You kindly state a number of different areas for us to examine with respect to relationships that may not be serving us well. I see no harm in that. If anything, your work is filled with compassion for people that could very well be recognizing themselves as they read your work.

  16. kimberlylowriter says:

    Thank you, Gail!

  17. Mark says:

    Karen, thank you for these thoughts. I have been married to the same woman for 30 years. I can't even remember what dating was like. I don't think I'd like it very much. Sex without deep love seems like it would be pretty un-fulfilling. As a very regular guy at age 50 I seek the total package of intimacy. Don't get me wrong, I love sex. But, I believe that a "friends with benefits" type relationship would not suit me at all. If that's what it came down to I would wait. So, you're right. A lot of men want intimacy, spiritual connection, along with the nasty monkey sex.

  18. Guest says:

    what do you think about a 4 year relationship and the man never calls on the phone, ever!?

  19. milk says:

    Does he do all the talking in person or is it just a text then sex type relationship.

    if it is the latter then get out unless you are happy being his sex partner and wasting another 4 years or more.

    Speak to him first- see if he wants to make you feel special but didn't realise he was being a loser x

  20. feistycuban says:

    I enjoyed this blog post and can appreciate the rawness and honesty in it. After reading the comments I find it interesting that society at-large assumes that women want a relationship while men typically want sex. I am one of those women who is not interested in a relationship. I had one (that ended in marriage, in fact). The marriage ended in divorce, as is the case with 50% of marriages these days. After a twelve year relationship (6 being married), it is time for me to focus on myself. That doesn't mean I am not interested in intimacy and sex, but I have no interest in committing to one person, making promises I can't keep and then trying to live up to someone else's expectations of who I should be. I have found the dating pool to be appalling. Online dating sites are cesspools full of people searching because they don't want to be alone. I found that when I "searched" I attracted the wrong people, so I stopped searching. Now I do the things that make me happy and enjoy my solitude which is typically sweeter than another person's company.

    If I should meet someone doing the things I enjoy, then great. I already had the marriage, the nice house, white picket fence, the dog and I am also a parent so those things are officially off of my "bucket list." Sex is a very personal thing to be enjoyed and it can be had w/out the confines of a "relationship." Let's stop assuming all women are emotionally needy and want a relationship.

  21. feistycuban says:

    Does he text? Some people don't like to express themselves verbally, but they will write instead. I was seeing someone for 6 weeks and in that time frame I called him only three times. Of those three, none were answered nor acknowledged. At the end of the 6 weeks he said he felt I wasn't interested which brings me to my next point: some people like to chase, while others like to be chased.

    The cat-mouse game has been part of the dating scene for centuries. Typically the man chases the woman but in today's day and age, men like to be chased just as much. There are so many desperate women out there who will chase even when the man doesn't display signs of interest. I would say if you are the one who does the calling, STOP. I did that once. I stopped calling and guess what? The person didn't call me and that was the end of that. Show the other person your worth and that you have some dignity.

  22. feistycuban says:

    I enjoyed this blog post and can appreciate the rawness and honesty in it. After reading the comments I find it interesting that society at-large assumes that women want a relationship while men typically want sex. I am one of those women who is not interested in a relationship. I had one (that ended in marriage, in fact). The marriage ended in divorce, as is the case with 50% of marriages these days. After a twelve year relationship (6 being married), it is time for me to focus on myself. That doesn't mean I am not interested in intimacy and sex, but I have no interest in committing to one person, making promises I can't keep and then trying to live up to someone else's expectations of who I should be. I have found the dating pool to be appalling. Online dating sites are cesspools full of people searching because they don't want to be alone. I found that when I "searched" I attracted the wrong people, so I stopped searching. Now I do the things that make me happy and enjoy my solitude which is typically sweeter than another person's company.

  23. justalonenow says:

    Thank you for this. I am a man, but have been through many of these relationships in my life: with me being the one used for sex. I am well-endowed, and a very skillfull lover – which has worked against me in many relationships. I am by nature loving, romantic, and monogamous. Maybe I am an anomaly, maybe not. But the worst thing in the world is for a woman to look into your eyes and say, again and again, "I love you," and "I love you too," and then for you to find out, down the line, after doing everything in your power to help that woman, support her emotionally, satisfy her, and love her completely, (believing foolishly that you have finally found a measure of "real" love and peace) – that you have been fooled by her into thinking that she loves you. Just as males find certain types of women disireable and will say anything or do anything to have sex with them, many women – if they are honest –

  24. justalonenow says:

    Pt 2. if they are honest – will tell you they will do the same, for the "right" man – and I don't mean "Mr. Right." I mean a man who's greatest pleasure is to completely satisfy the woman he loves. My last relationship ended New Years Eve 2009, and today, in 2014, I still feel empty, broken, and unwilling to try again. I am done. And my trust is exhausted and untrustworthy to me. I have always been very trusting – my downfall. Too much disappointment, too much pain. I have had married women lie to me, and should have known by their behavior and schedule that I was simply being "used on the side." But the damnably horrifying part of this, when I've found out, is that I was having sex with someone else's WIFE! Not by consent – I would NEVER do this to any man, because

  25. justalonenow says:

    Pt.3 I know what it feels like. So, these women end up hurting not only one man, but two (because I will always call the husband to apologize, and so that he will know). I think most men who have been hurt by falling into this horrible place are simply too embarrassed to admit it. I am speaking of good men, who were trying to find a true measure of love, and would NOT feel proud of tricsed like a piece of meat. Not all men are pigs. I believe it happens much more than we know. Every behavior and speech that you described applys exactly to a man being used in this way by a woman. Just needed to say this from a male side. Apologies for its length.

  26. eric says:

    This is so dumb. Any sex is good sex think about raising your kundalini . During sex

  27. Renee says:

    1. Clearly this article hit a nerve for you, giving you the opportunity to reflect upon why that is. So, that is a good thing.

    2. Nowhere in this article does it state, "scientific studies have proven…" that isnt the flavor or the voice of this article. And it isnt posted in a professional journal. It is filled with statements like, "from my own experience" and "from what Ive observed in those around me." So, it is one person sharing her own perspective and experience.

    3. The five points offered as potential signs of one-sidedness in a relationship were stated as "ones that come up over and over in conversation." And just as a sidebar my own personal observations and experience correlate with the authors, so to me these points ring "true" and are therefore good food for thought.

    Good writing is that which creates an impact upon the reader. Sometimes when something strikes a nerve it is because it is touching something that we dont want to look at (Im not suggesting this is the case for you, Im speaking in general terms). Whether you agree or disagree with the opinion stated this article is well written and valuable.

    Your criticisms sound extremely harsh and disproportionate to the sentiment of this article…

  28. DozyFire says:

    Thanks for your comments. I personally don't date people unless we have a minimum of common interests and attitudes to life. In fact going on Meetups for things like language groups, cookery, photography, philosophy, history etc is a great way of making friends from whom you might meet people who you are attracted to.

  29. Doofus says:

    Women can use their emotions to excuse affairs in ways that men can not get away with.

    Basically it’s easier for women to blame the man on relationship problems of any kind since they can use the “I’m an emotional woman” get out of jail free card.

  30. sue says:

    Recently single after a long relationship, I find myself in this situation. All the signs are there, but I still enjoy the attention and the small amount of time I do see him. He's much younger but embodies all the qualities of a man/partner I like. However, I am no fool and I know he is only interested in me for sex. I just can't seem to break free and find myself thinking about him constantly. Be hurt now and end it, or be hurt later when he ends it? I feel since I know it will eventually end, I should just enjoy the ride while I am on it.

  31. Yogagurl says:

    I don't think so. Sex without respect and kindness is bad sex, IMO.

  32. Sadie says:

    Sue, I enjoyed the ride. It turned into three years and it left me broken, a shadow of myself. I am still working through the feelings of worthlessness. If I had my time again, I would have ended it as soon as I felt myself getting attached. Good luck. x

  33. mcsedna says:

    i've just got rid of one of these guys – I should have spotted the signs he was a DJ and his dJ name means – to w**k!

  34. Ken Blackman says:

    I've read this article through a couple of times. I have a different take. Whether someone is happily married; in an intimate loving relationship; dating / getting-to-know; or purely a FWB / booty call… if they're deliberate about having the sex they want and enjoy, and not having sex they don't want or enjoy, I'm sorry but I don't see how they can ever walk away feeling as though they were "used for sex".

    What you're describing seems more like "using sex to get to love." To help clarify what I mean by that, here are some possible red flags that you might be using sex to get to love:
    – You have sex that you didn't want or enjoy, more than once.
    – You regret the sex you had, retroactively, in the wake of the relationship not turning out the way you'd hoped.
    – You notice you have a steadily growing list of ways that your partner disappoints you, that weren't on your radar before the sex.
    – You start developing expectations about how they should behave that aren't based on their past behavior or any discussions you've had.
    – Where before you were getting to know them and found you liked them in the discovery process, now you're comparing them to how they should be.
    – You've stopped paying attention to them as an individual, or to the organic way of relating that arises between the two of you as unique human beings.
    – You projected your growing feelings for them onto them as feelings for you and failed to detect or notice that you felt differently about each other.
    – Sex feels like your side of a contract or pact or deal, though it wasn't overtly discussed.
    – You think of sex as something you give to them, rather than something you do for you.
    – You increasingly rely on things like role-playing to try to juice your sex life where there just isn't much sexual chemistry between you right now.
    – The relationship is genuinely evolving or changing—as relationships sometimes do—and your attention is more on how things should be than on discovering the new way of relating that is trying to arise between you, whatever that may be.

  35. screenbean269 says:

    You are only used if you allow yourself to feel that way. I participate in "FWB" relations. I am a 45 year old woman and I've had 2 guys that I've been with (separately) for over a year. Neither knows the other, but both know of the other. We are open and honest, and it's discussed and agreed upon. One man is emotionally unavailable for commitment and the other sees others openly stating he's poly amorous. It's all good. Do I have feelings for either of these guys? Yes, I care about them. Am I in love with them? No. Do we have passionate, warm meaningful sex? Absofreakinloutely! There is excellent chemistry. I have friends that have told me that I'm not treating myself with respect because I have these casual relations. I'm looking for Mr. Right. He's been elusive. Anytime I think I've met someone that can be potentially good, I have the conversation with my friendly lovers. They know they get shuffled to the back burner or put on hold. It's a respect thing that they abide by those rules, and both have done that for me. If I need space they give it. If they need space, I back off. The one guy and I have blurred the boundaries of the FWB status a few times and needed to dial it down, because we are so passionate together that sometimes that passion feels like love. It's the combustion of our beings coming together that make it so good and so raw, but both of us know that we are not meant to be anything more than occasional lovers and occasional friends….nothing more. When it's finally over, will I feel sadness? Yes, because you don't find lovers like that everyday. It just makes me smile that I got to feel such passion at all. Had I not participated in the "FWB" thing…..I would've missed all the fun! As long as you're not deluding yourself and as long as you're honest with your partner, there is no reason to ever walk away feeling used. The key to any relationship, no matter how casual, is communication.

  36. Chris says:

    The Irony in this article for me is that the only girl that I have ever had as a girlfriend was an asian girl (Like the author of this article) believed in sex after marriage and I left her after 3 years because of that reason.

  37. goldenlocks says:

    The reason I found this website is because I feel an intense urge to have a N.S.A. lover to strap me down and show me things that would make my head spin!! Laugh, watch a movie and send him on his way. But knowing he will come back and surprise me with something new …I’ve always wound up with the only three I’ve ever been with and my last was alot older however by far te best!!!!!

    We seem to gravitate back together, however, he lives in a different city, the sex was so mind blowing, even spiritual in a way, but noncommittal!

  38. Sudeshna says:

    How did it hurt you if you didn't have feelings and it were only an FWB arrangement? Not judging you but trying to understand how (some) men feel/ rationalize in that situation?

  39. Beth says:

    Ken – great insight. Do you write about this on your website? I'd like to learn more about your theory of using sex to get love. Thanks.

  40. Ken Blackman says:

    Hi Beth and thank you. I haven't written about it (except an article on using sex as a bargaining chip in relationships). But if you fill out the contact form on my website I can go into more detail and how it might apply in your relationships. http://kenblackman.com/#contact-ken

  41. heather says:

    In my book a fwb is my actual friend , while a booty call deals with someone who I do not even talk to.

  42. awes69 says:

    Having affair with a friends boyfriend we have sex but oral sex for him every time then after we have sex we don’t spend any time talking nothing I go my way he goes histhis ois going s choice I’m married his girlfriend him and me and my husband hang out from time to time but he and ibseemed attracted to each other quickly after becoming to know each other I’m just wondering with him leaving no time to talk or anything after giving oral sex or having sex am I being used is he using our time to talk when we are all hanging out no love has been claimed but am I being used to the fullest by him

  43. Kinyatta Taylor says:

    This was thee most satisfying truth talking article I could have ever read. This was pure counseling for me as I read all about me…it felt like the author was talking just to me. I really needed this unadulterated information. I bet if I walked away from this guy whom I have relations with he would probably drift off. The sex is so fabulous, but I just can’t see me with him for the rest of my life. There are way too many hangups from both of us. I feel like I’m wasting my beautiful body AND my awesome personality on someone who does not see me for anything other than sex…the other half is I only want him for sex. We sometimes admit it but, we don’t want to take it any further. I have values that I compromise just to be with him and he does not care. My weakness, and lustful nature always succumb to what I know he can do for me…which is to feeling great. I want more than this from him but at the same time I don’t want him in my life for anything more. I feel like I’m putting myself at a disadvantage to remain a prisoner of sex to him. I guess I just want sex, attention and lustful satisfaction. Yup. But thank you for this article. At this point, it’s time for me to let him go.

  44. Shilpa says:

    I don't know if you are still viewing this…I just happened to chance on this page…it was left open and when I opened my laptop today, your comment was in the centre of the screen and it really struck a chord and is something I was hoping to hear from a man…I'm a little raw from an experience of being used by the less evolved men this thread is discussing and your comment saved me from becoming more bitter and cynical about men and relationships in general

  45. Mr G says:

    My gf from this tim last year was like this, and indeed lied/ would not approach getting into getting into a releashionship. The second the new year came around. I moved on can be very hurtful for men and women