Retrosexing–Because We Can’t Get Enough of these Ridic Portmanteaux

Oct 30, 2009 • Culture

Sexting. Twexting. And now: retrosexing, regretrosexing, and fretrosexing. It’s true: if you can’t squeeze sex into a word, you’re just not cool enough for the times.

Let’s start with retrosexing and work our way through. Deidre Fulton at The Phoenix has the best run-down:

Retrosexuals are people who rewind their own lives, digging into their past to emerge with a current romantic partner. So, too, is the cultural context: like chicken-noodle soup or Beverly Hills 90210 DVD compilations, retrosexing lures its participants with promises of familiarity — a comforting concept that’s hard to come by in these complicated times.

A retrosex episode can fall into two major categories, with some subsets: a one-time hook-up or a longer-term romance. The textbook retrosexual, the perfect specimen, if you will, is the former — someone like Suzanne, who hooks up for casual sex with someone he or she knew in high school. Within this group are two narrower classifications: some retrosexuals, like Suzanne, have been there, done that; others might be reconnecting with old friends but hooking up for the first time.

Here’s an example of a conversation a classic retrosexual might have:

Retro: “I made out with Jon Whateverhisnameis last night!”

Friend: “Jon Whateverhisnameis? That guy you drank vodka with / gave your first blowjob to / studiously ignored at the 11th grade homecoming dance?”

Retro: “Yes! I ran into him / friended him on Facebook / saw his name on a mass e-mail a few weeks ago, and we’ve been chatting — he’s totally great now! We hung out last night and ended up sucking face in an alley.”

Friend: “Weird.”

The other type of retrosexual is someone who romantically reconnects with someone from their past, but not necessarily someone from high school or college. Ex-sex, in other words, but not sordid, desperate, we-just-broke-up-last-week-and-I’m-so-lonely ex-sex. More like, hey-let’s-try-this-again ex-sex. Or, old-habits-die-hard-for-a-reason ex-sex.

Beyond these broad definitions are finer distinctions, such as those who retrosex and then wish they hadn’t (call them “regretrosexuals”), or those who hooked up years ago and have no desire to be reminded of their past romantic encounters (“fretrosexuals”).

Sara Faye Lieber at Switched has some tips for retrosexing. These are my cardinal five:

Think before you friend

You’re not just sharing pictures and videos and occasional status updates–unless you change your settings, you’re sharing friends, everything friends want to tag of you, and everything friends say to you. You’re letting them into your digital space. Are you ready to show this person that? Retrosexing can be just as successful over e-mail where you control how much insight they get.

Think nostalgia, not recent history

Lieber writes, “The more time that has elapsed since you last saw your target, the more room there is for them to blow you away with how much they’ve changed, and the less emotional risk there is if they haven’t (or, God forbid, have changed for the worse)… If you have any remaining emotional attachment to this person, make sure you enter the situation with the same level of caution as you would a pit of rabid vipers.”

People change

You feel you can trust someone because you knew them once. Maybe you can–but I have my reservations. Time takes us in many directions. Stuff happens to people. Take it slow. Be careful. You never know if the charmer you knew way back when has grown up to be one of the creeptastic guys you’re going to have to have removed from your lawn. Just saying.

Note relationship status before proceeding

My Facebook says I’m married. I’m not, I just prefer people get to know me better than a cursory glance at my status before asking me out. I realize I’m an exception to the rule. Most of the time, people who say they’re married really are. If they say nothing, don’t get your hopes up until you know they’re on the market.

In a world where everything is chronicled, cheating just got 100 times harder. Don’t be a moron

Tagged photos? Wall messages? If you’re cheating with someone with whom you’re connected on a social network, sit them down for a social media strategy meeting the way they do at the office. Discuss what’s appropriate and what isn’t. For the love of God, don’t think for a moment that just because your spouse isn’t on Facebook that this is a sacred space where you two can play. Get an anonymous space for that–like Tumblr–and strip it of all identifiers. (Hint: don’t link your secret blog to your Facebook.)

So. Have you retrosexed?

  • Jeff

    I thought this was called “collecting back taxes”. At least it is if you’ve been there before.

    • Anaiis

      Goes to show how pervasive out lack of regard for the concept of taxes has become, doesn’t it?