Is It Okay To Hook Up Without Wanting More?

Is It Okay To Hook Up Without Wanting More?
Contributor
Love

Dear Jess,

There’s this boy who I studied abroad with. We hooked up sometimes and often ended up together at the end of the night. The following summer, we continued hanging out with our mutual friends and hooking up. We tended to become very flirtatious at night – especially when alcohol came into play.

The problem was that during the daytime, we were always so awkward. We had nothing to talk about. And that’s still the case.

We kept drunk texting from our respective colleges throughout the following semester, and I even visited him for a weekend. And this past week, I went on a big spring break trip with all my study abroad friends and we hooked up the entire time (except for one night, when we drunkenly made out in public but then I passed out before we could do anything else).

Sometimes, it seems like there’s more there – he told one of my guys friends that he “could see himself dating me someday,” and apparently his friends love me. And I think he got uncomfortable while we were out one night and I accepted free drinks from other random guys. But then daytime comes, and we get awkward.

I am so confused. What are we doing?! I know that I’ll never date him, because he is not the right guy for me. But I don’t want to end whatever it is that we have. And I’m afraid that if we end it, then we won’t even be friends – since we never have anything to talk about when we’re sober. And I really like hooking up with him.

Who is he in my gaggle?! WTF should I do?!

Best,

Trying To Sort Out My Gaggle

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Dear TTSOMG,

Thank goodness for the gaggle! Otherwise, I have a feeling that you’d be legitimately trying to date this guy. And all signs point to that being a bad idea.

Let’s be clear: at this moment, you’re only connecting with him on a physical level. He’s your Hot Sex Prospect. Plain and simple. And you need to allow yourself to see him as only that - at least until your relationship with him evolves or a more fitting Boyfriend Prospect comes along.

Of course you’re “so confused!” You live in an era where everyone is still condescending to you and talking as if, despite all the personal and professional strides you’ve probably made in your life, you should be worried (panicked!) about locking down a good man. That’s why you’re constantly being trained to wear the right colors, mind-read the right signals and master the right beauty tricks, right? The idea that you could meet a nice, cute guy with whom you connect on a physical level – and not try to make him your boyfriend – seems to be breaking some sort of secret, timeless Lady Code. Pass on a potential relationship with a guy who doesn’t happen to be a serial killer, and you’ll hear – you’re being too picky! Your standards are too high! You’re acting like an overly-entitled Millennial! SETTLE!

Very few people are going to tell you to just chill out and enjoy whatever it is that you have with this guy.

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Therefore, you’re now stuck going through a thought process that way too many of us have experienced. You meet a cool guy, and your brain immediately kicks into “Could he be my boyfriend? Could we fall deeply in love?” gear.

In your case, you’ve already figured out that, no, you guys are not in fact compatible when the sun rises and the liquid courage dries up. Yet this realization compels you to jump into Phase 2 of the thought process – “How can I fit a square peg into a round hole? How can I convince myself that this guy is boyfriend material, or turn him into my ideal man instead? And if I can’t, then…oh no, I have to get rid of him, right?!”

I’m here to tell you that, no, you don’t have to get rid of him.

You don’t have to do anything, much less end things. You don’t have to stress out about what you’re doing or who you are to each other or whether that’s okay. For the record, you deserve a Boyfriend Prospect who stimulates you intellectually and emotionally, as well as physically. And until he comes into the picture, and as long as no one is getting hurt here, you’re allowed to connect with this guy in whatever way is fun and satisfying to both of you.

In other words, you’re allowed to see him as a Hot Sex Prospect. You’re allowed to hook up with him and not worry about taking your relationship any further. Because it’s entirely possible for you to connect with a particular guy on only one level, be it emotionally, sexually, professionally or intellectually.

It’s no one’s fault. You’re just not meant to be together forever. But that doesn’t mean that you have to kick him out of your life, either. He – and everything you’re learning from your mutual connection – is bringing you one step closer to finding that guy who does push your buttons on every level.

So to your main question: what are you doing? You’re doing exactly what you should be doing! Both of you seem to be getting a pretty good deal. You’re regularly hooking up with someone who you find fun and attractive, and so is he. Don’t worry about breaking his heart quite yet – while he probably means it when he says that he can “see himself dating you someday,” that’s not exactly the same as busting down doors and moving mountains to win your love and affection. Odds are that you’re both enjoying your casual relationship but also both feeling the pressure to turn it into something more…hence the confusion and mixed signals.

Well, get rid of that pressure and take it off of him as well. Because honestly, it doesn’t sound like you’re uber-ready to dive into relationship waters anyway – “getting drunk and hooking up” doesn’t necessarily equate to the maturity that you’d need to build a strong and stable connection with anyone right now.

And herein lies the beauty of the gaggle: it functions even when you’re at a time in your life when a full-on relationship is not your top priority. Your love life doesn’t cease to exist, just because coupledom isn’t right around the corner. And it also doesn’t have to devolve into a series of cheap, meaningless, promiscuous hookups – it’s better to be exploring the sexy side of yourself with someone who’s solidly in your life and who you can trust. Whatever phase you’re at in your life right now, the gaggle adjusts to fill in the blanks. And right now, the gaggle is presenting you with a Hot Sex Prospect. That’s pretty awesome.

WTF?! BOTTOM LINE: This guy is your Hot Sex Prospect, and only your Hot Sex Prospect. What are you guys doing? You’re having fun and exploring your physical chemistry! Should you end it? Not unless either of you starts wanting more, gets bored or meets someone else. End it only if you want to, or if it stops being a positive, comfortable thing. You’ve got the rest of your life to have a boyfriend and fall in love. Enjoy this relationship for what it’s worth, and in the meantime, trust that you’ll learn something from it.

Say it with me: I am allowed to have a guy in my life who is just a Hot Sex Prospect. That doesn’t make me a slut, and it doesn’t make our connection meaningless. We are simply two people, enjoying each other on the level that we’re meant to, and not ruining our dynamic by succumbing to outside pressures and pushing our relationship into a more traditional, less “confusing” space.

It’s about time that I throw in a disclaimer, though. Yes, I am advising you to pursue a primarily physical relationship with this one guy. However, that is not the same thing as telling you to get drunk and make out with strangers every night of the week for the sake of “exploring your gaggle.” Don’t do something that is dangerous or that will make you feel like crap. Empty hookups will likely make you feel like crap. So make sure that you’re being just as selective about your physical relationships as you would be about your romantic ones.

***

Jessica Massa is the co-founder of WTF Is Up With My Love Life?!, an online forum to discuss and explore the confusing - but exciting! - state of modern dating and relationships. She is also working on a non-fiction book about finding love in the post-dating world, which is repped by Trident Media Group and will be published by Simon & Schuster in Spring 2012. New Line Cinema has also optioned the rights to the related romantic concept entitled The Gaggle.