You’re away from home, perhaps for the first time. You’re full of nerves at the unparalleled changes ahead; of fresh faces, opinions and lodgings. It’s all rather intimidating, but the promise of Freshers’ week is heeding your call; the moment where the guard is dropped, the drinks are flowing and Durham starts to feel like home. So, I’m not going to tell you that sex is a bad idea on Freshers’ week: far from it. I’d even go as far to say it’s the best aspect of the whole experience. You’re all smart, you’re all going to stay safe, but there’s more to consider. Before you tacitly step over the cobbles, hands gripped in anticipation, run over the following:
In going back to one of your rooms, you’re demonstrating that you find each other attractive and have the same attitude to sex; you already have something in common. You should be embracing the intimacy, and this cerebral as well as physical exchange. So, why treat them badly in the morning? Whether you feel inexplicably guilty over your previous night’s actions or not, your behaviour towards your partner should be no different than if they were to be a friend. Take them for breakfast, walk them home or at least make them a brew. To any reasoned person, this is not a desperate ploy for a relationship, but an acknowledgment that you are both more than a quick ride. Be straight with your new-found friend to avoid confusion, and relax into getting to know them in sobriety. Even if you never speak to this person again, you will not feel awkward in the street, lecture or tutorial. Similarly, if you are treated badly in the morning, it is worth expressing your previous reciprocal understanding, and the pointless immaturity of such behaviour.
ONTO A GOOD THING?
It is also phenomenally hard to find good sex in Durham; if you have, then by god keep them on good terms. Students tend to work incredibly hard and party rarely later in the year, so to broach the subject of casual sex becomes increasingly difficult. If you get on well, then consider discussing a friendship with benefits. If you have a great sexual connection then you’re on your way, but if one of you has unrequited romantic inclination, or there is no mutual respect; stay well clear. Six months is a good time for a ‘casual relationship’ to last; any longer than this and one risks replicating a relationship entirely, which can inevitably dampen the illicit frisson, or lead to hurt when one of you leaves for a steady relationship with someone else.
CHANGE YOUR MIND
So, you can have a conversation afterwards with your lover, but why not before? If you get back to your room, this does not make you beholden to their lust. Perhaps you’ve sobered up, or just got to know them a little better. Whatever the reason, you can say no at any time, and to disregard this is rape, pure and simple. To go back with someone should not be to expect full sex, so if you make this clear before you leave for home and trust them, there’s no reason why a chat and a cuddle shouldn’t suffice.
BEWARE THE VULTURES
You may be incredibly experienced, mature and worldy, but one can hardly anticipate the extent of the predatory nature that besets usually respectable older students in Freshers’ Week. You are the symbol of everything they have lost: youthful, hopeful and carefree. But, don’t interpret this as gravitas; one night of fresher pounding will probably be enough, and your knight in shining postgrad suit will be long gone.
(NO GLOVE) NO LOVE
Don’t expect to find love in Freshers’. And for god’s sake don’t just hop on in the hope that it will lead to something. The majority of people are not looking to find a life partner, and for those that are, you should probably ask yourself if this is wise. Everyone knows of a couple that got together in Freshers’, and have stayed together for the duration of University. This is, perhaps, a rare positive scenario, but to rush into something so quickly, and at such a pivotal point in your life means that you don’t have even a month to adjust as an individual. Just don’t go looking this week, and give yourself a month to scout out the options.
KEEP IT OUT OF COLLEGE
Looking at a crap lay over the breakfast table all year is going to kill you. Of course you can, and should when possible, remain friends with your conquests, but Durham colleges are incredibly insular. This is, itself, a positive facet of the university; you’re never alone and your friends are broad and familial. In a sexual sense, however, this does indeed prove incestuous. Not only that, but there are always the small-minded people, often not getting any themselves, who will link you to that person all year or make judgment on your sexual character. The same thing goes with sports teams; of course have one member, but any more than that, due to a largely ‘laddish’ ethos and you’ll be no doubt wrongly perceived as a groupie. I’m not only talking about the men either; the female rugby teams are often a force to be reckoned with.
EMBRACE THE WALK OF SHAME
The morning after, you’ll have to hobble back; perhaps in fancy dress and all. Anyone going to lectures of a morning that crosses a make-up stained cowgirl is going to raise an eyebrow, but hopefully a smile too. It’s unavoidable, but no-one really knows what you’ve been up to; if you’re genuinely bothered then get learning Durham’s river-side paths, they’re a great way to slip through the city unnoticed.
Yes this sounds lame, but guys, have a go with a condom before you go out. Perhaps you’ve been in a long-term relationship where condoms were obsolete, or just never had the access to the multitude that you will be offered free on campus. The more comfortable you are with them, the less likely you are to kill the mood, lose your erection or cast them off in drunken desperation; and that’s obviously not worth the risk.
WHAM BAM THANK YOU MAM
You rush through the door, groping as you do so, to be guided nervously into a foreign room; it’s tempting to fill your boots and get home. It’s not a cliche, or at least it’s often an accurate one, that good lovers make good friends. To be responsive and generous is not necessarily to just concentrate on foreplay, although that certainly won’t go amiss; it’s ensuring your partner climaxes and trying to make this happen even after you’ve finished. Leading the switch in positions, without getting through the whole Kama Sutra, and talking to your partner during, will make sure the experience is all the more satisfying; without this interaction you may as well just leave the intimacy to Pamela Handerson.
WATCH THE JUICE
Alcohol is an inescapable part of Freshers’ for the majority, and of course drunk sex can be – and often is – great; your guard is down, you’re imbibed with an intrinsic confidence and relating to others, in conversation or the bedroom, is easier. Durham is a particularly boozy place, in that when students of other universities are usually experimenting with drugs, D-town remains violently oscillating the ‘predrink-quaddies-takeaway’ triad. This means that the majority of people you meet out will be drunk, and you have to trust that you’re not too equally inebriated to judge by how much. Men and women that abuse this situation are inexcusable; though sadly you only have to leave a club slightly early to see girls, so drunk they look like puppets, being held up and led home by strangers of the opposite sex. You should be able to drink, dress and act as you want, but reflect on what you want from that evening, sober, before every night out, and have this as the intrinsic basis for your conduct.
GUM IT UP
So you’ve had a great week, and hopefully used condoms every time. Even so, it’s worth taking a trip to the GUM clinic to make sure everything’s ok before you start your year. Not only will they check you out for diseases that can be transmitted even whilst using protection, such as everyone’s favourite genital warts, or side effects such as a latex allergy, but they will check you out generally and make sure you’re healthy.
The bus goes from just off North Rd. straight to University Hospital; just bite the bullet and the friendly, professional staff will make you realize you had nothing to worry about. Don’t forget your college welfare team, too, who will be unabashed at any such queries.
DON’T MAX OUT ON PORN
You may have a room to yourself for the first time, and ‘porn as procrastination’ is certainly a common aspect of full-time studying. Whilst the majority of male and female students use porn safely, it is worth being aware of your usage and balancing it with normal sexual activity, or at least through a different medium such as erotica, so you don’t end up in a stifled sexual sphere. I don’t disapprove of watching porn on purely psychological grounds, though I may do of the ethics, and conditions, in its production. My main argument is that it quite simply deadens your imagination and capacity for fantasy, stilting both your own enjoyment and undoubtedly your lover’s.
The enactment of specific fantasies, sometimes fostered by increased porn viewing, is what makes trust in casual sex more important than ever. Do not accept a rhythmic pornographic run-through, but embrace the encounter and make it the best sex you can muster. Move in the moment of the experience, but make sure you ask before you penetrate, come on your partner’s face, in her mouth or anywhere for that matter; a good facial is not the prerequisite for an enjoyable shag.
This means, when you have the pleasantries out of the way, that you can truly go for it. Your stolen evening does not have to mean that you temper your desire, but that you can fully exploit your sexual confidence and experiment with your sexuality. Try a new position, light bondage, hell, even go for anal if it feels right; the key here is awareness of your partner and the precedence of their well-being over your hunger.
Freshers’ sex isn’t right for everyone, and you have to ensure there is motivation beyond a self-esteem boost or a long-term relationship. Sure you may be horny as hell after a dry summer, but will you be able to see this person again, in the cold light of orgasm and on the cobbles for months subsequently without regrets, or respect your partner as more than an orifice in the morning?
If so, then you have in your laps the golden opportunity for experimentation, and nothing should deter you. If comments are made, hold your head up high. Durham isn’t a boarding school, though some people certainly treat it as such, so embrace your freedom beyond the constraints that labels, or the fear of petty gossip, can bring.