Ostensibly speaking, I can be a ho-fo-sho.
While I’m a self-identified slut with no interest in conventional ‘reform’, many other people have bouts of time in their life where they were a little (or a lot) less conservative with their sexual and/or romantic decisions.
This time is commonly referred to as “The Ho Phase”
Some people never had a Ho Phase. Some people lie and say they never had a Ho Phase. Some people have one to ‘get it out of their system’ while others have several Ho Phases interspersed throughout their life. And then there are career sluts like myself who just have interspersed Non-Ho-Phases.
There is an unnecessary stigma attached to the Ho Phase, though. This stigma rebuffs the curious and shames the practitioners. But just like watching Digimon or bare-bottom-spanking, I encourage everyone who’s curious about it to try without a sense of shame. If you’re reading this and you’ve never had a Ho Phase, I implore you to consider a trial. There are many unsung benefits to Ho Phasing:
A Ho Phase gives you a broader spectrum of lovers to gauge the quality of future partners. You may have felt blessed when you first had someone perform oral sex on you. I know I did. A Ho Phase might show you how many people are willing (and skilled) at some of the things you like. Similarly, a Ho Phase will help you appreciate the affections you’re having because they’re better than you’ve had. A Ho Phase really tempers a person’s ability to decide when things could be better and when things could be worse.
- Know Thyself
Just like you get to see what other people are capable of, a Ho Phase can tell you what you’re capable of. If there’s something you’ve always been curious about trying, one in a series of casual partners can be very forgiving of experimentation foibles. So if you’re a dom who’s always wanted to explore his subby side, your Ho Phase can double as a trial phase. A Ho Phase gives you a more complete understanding of your sexual appetite. It helps you develop a sense of what you want sexually. This is important because people who don’t know what they want end up with a lot they do not want.
The Ho Phase is so popular, I’m certain many of you reading this have already had a Ho Phase. You might be right in the middle of one. You might be on that sweet precipice immediately before or just after being neck-deep in the waters of the Hocean. Sweet though the waters are, exploring them safely is more important than exploring them completely. Just like skydiving or analingus, some simple precautions can make this adventure awesome instead of awful. I recommend you offer yourself the following protections:
- Protect Your Body
Carry at least two condoms with you everywhere.
Going to the club? Bring two condoms.
Going to the wedding reception? Bring two condoms.
Going on a three-hour-tour? Bring two condoms.
While monogamy is a vaguely safe avenue for unprotected sex, the inherent non-monogamy of the Ho Phase is not conducive to bare-backing. If you don’t like using condoms, you probably won’t like your Ho Phase. Unprotected enthusiasts usually end their Ho Phase after they get disappointed with safe sex.
…or they get chlamydia.
That’s part of the reason many Ho Phases are limited engagements. Though even if you protect yourself for the duration of your Ho Phase, it’s probably a good idea to get tested when you think you’re done. If you’ve got plans for a long-term Ho Phase, plan some regular testing with your doctor or find your local free clinic.
- Protect Your Heart
I don’t believe in relationships that are ‘just sex’. I believe people can try to make an encounter as solely about sex as possible, but I’ve never seen anybody reach 100%. There’s always an emotional exchange, even if that emotion is just playful cheer. That being said, your Ho Phase might provoke some romantic aspirations that you’re not ready to reciprocate. Hopefully, any partner(s) you have during this phase are aware of the casual goals that you have set for yourself. In a similar vein, your Ho Phase might stir some feelings in you that might not be reciprocated. Ho Phasing individuals often find each other. If the two (or three) of you start building something casual that works, complications can arise when someone wants to bring a relationship out of the Ho Phase that was forged therein.
- Protect Your Circles
Be wary of being a Homie Hopper. This goes for guys, girls, and everything in between and around. After you’ve made the rounds with everybody that’s most conveniently suited to your present desires, you might start to feel alienated. This is partly due to the overwhelming slutshaming that exists in conventional social circles, but you also might end up unintentionally hurting people. Everyone in your personal circle might commiserate and bond over all feeling a little used or unimportant.
One of the many benefits of having a Ho Phase is that you get to explore something new! Don’t waste your wanderlust on what’s familiar. Try online dating, join a swinger club, have a tryst at a bar with someone(s) you just met. There is no shortage of potential spaces to indulge your personal liberation.
- Protect Your Egress
When I talk to people about their Ho Phases, many say the hardest part was ending their Ho Phase. While my solution of not ending it works for me, other people may have solid aspirations of concluding it. While all of the previously mentioned protections will also help you smoothly transition out of this time in your life, there is an essential to exiting the Ho Phase. You have to make sure you’re done.
I’ve seen plenty of people who have split from their steady, long-term partner and had a bout of promiscuity before returning back to the love they know. A good portion of these supplicants end up being unfaithful to their partner after they return.
I don’t believe they do it because they’re not satisfied by their existing partner. They do it because they left something in the Ho Phase. Maybe there is a person, act, locale or other remnant of their Ho Phase that remains unfinished. It’s hard to make a clean break when you are still tied to that. Those ties may never be cut. In which case, you may want to consider some long-term accommodations for your new proclivities.
All the above are helpful for a bout of less cautioned exploration of intimacy. But what if your Ho Phase is more than just a phase? Making a lifestyle out of the phase is certainly possible, but it takes some tactful reconsideration of your place in conventional romance.
Firstly, don’t be ashamed of your Ho Phase. You got the chance to have some really exciting times. You might have made some really meaningful connections. More than anything though, you learned about yourself. Don’t let the petty fuckers who came up with the name “Ho Phase” tell you anything about what you can be for anybody else after it. That chapter in your life has given you what I find to be the most valuable product a partner can have: a story.
I find stories more valuable in a partner than a whole lot. More than a car, a college education, or an antiquated idea of ‘purity’. People who are proud of their Ho Phase have got great anecdotes about some stuff they’ve seen that worked brilliantly. They’ve got harrowing stories about stuff that just did not. And owning your sexual growth is a huge step towards building a world with less shame attached to intimacy.
If you want to make a lifelong adventure out of your Ho Phase, there are ways to make that work too:
Don’t be a ho. Graduate to a slut. An ethical slut. Check out some literature about polyamory to learn more!
If you want monogamy, but aren’t ready to give up the chance to bang around, consider joining your local swinger community. Swingers are also a fun community to meet people who might be able to empathize with your long-game Ho Phase.
This is practically a monogamous relationship. Practically.
One or both of the partners understands the playful, fun nature of the Ho Phase to allow occasional vacations back to it. Limited engagements like the “Hall Pass”, where you have a set amount of time to be non-monogamous are common.
Have you ever had a Ho Phase? How did it work for you? Please post your advice for those curious about or recovering from theirs!