Sometimes, one-night-stands are great. If you’re not really ready to be in a relationship, but you’re tired of orgasming all alone, they offer a happy balance between the two.
But what happens if your no-strings-attached fling develops some unwanted strings? Catching feelings for someone is scary at the best of times, and it’s the absolute worst when you’re catching feelings for someone who won’t feel the same. Of course, we know that the easiest way to avoid feelings is to avoid sex… But that’s not always how life works.
Struggling to make peace with yourself after breaking your own rules? Let us show you how to recover. For best results, you should follow all of these steps, but feel free to rearrange their order as is necessary for your exact circumstances.
1. Understand that falling for someone you’ve slept with is totally normal.
There have been a ton of Hollywood jokes about how desperate a girl must be if she gets hung up after the first night with someone. From a scientific standpoint, though, it’s no joke. The orgasm itself is actually designed to create a bond, by releasing chemicals in the brain that make you think you’re in love.
Obviously, you don’t really fall in love with everyone you ever have sex with (unless you wait to have sex until after you’re already in love). Let’s face it, no one can effectively predict how they’re going to feel about someone. But because the chemical reactions for love and for orgasm are so similar, our brains can’t always tell the difference. Rest assured – there are ways to make sure it doesn’t go any further than that.
2. Stop having sex with this person.
Okay, I know “one-night-stand implies it was a one-time deal. But I also know that sometimes, one-night-stands turn into casual flings, which occasionally turn into full-fledged relationships. If you want to make sure that doesn’t happen, you can’t have sex with this person again.
I know the sex is probably great, otherwise you wouldn’t have these feelings. I know you’re probably used to being with someone, which is the leading cause of casual situationships in the first place. But trust me on this one: Each orgasm you have will produce more bonding chemicals in the brain, and eventually, you won’t really be able to control the direction it takes you.
3. Stop hanging out with this person.
The production of cortisol and oxytocin don’t just come with orgasms… They come with any intimate activities. Cuddling should be strictly off-limits with anyone you don’t want to develop feelings for, and so should kissing and intimate talks. Hey, it sounds a little barbaric, but if you’re looking to avoid the unwanted attachments, you need to be proactive about it.
In general, just hanging out with the person should be completely safe. However, once feelings come into the equation, it’ll be more and more difficult to remove the intimacy from the situation. You’ll long for deep talks, to gently graze their hand, and to do all those other cheesy things that aren’t contained within Casual Sex Land. Fight the urge, and remove yourself from the situation if the temptation becomes too strong.
4. Be honest with this person.
Let’s face it, if you just go ghost on someone with no explanation, it’s going to look terrible, and it could destroy your chances at a relationship in the future, when the timing is more right. But if you let them know what’s going on, they’ll have to choose whether they pull you in closer or let you walk away. It might not be the prettiest way to do things, but it’s the best way to avoid any hurt feelings.
You might be surprised when you talk to your ONS partner – you might find out that he or she has feelings for you, too! At this point, you’ll both need to make a choice – whether you stay apart, because you’re not ready for a relationship, or you’ll give the real relationship a shot. Keep in mind that “business as usual” is not an option here.
5. Take time to understand your feelings.
Catching feelings for this person has most likely taught you a thing or two about yourself. Now is the time to use that information to settle up some scores within yourself. What is it about this person that attracted you? Was it just a matter of the sex, or do they have legitimate qualities you’d look for in a partner (if you were looking for a partner right now)?
If you find that it was all about the sex, you might be able to talk yourself out of your feelings, at least to an extent. Of course, trying to deny how you feel isn’t usually the best course of action, and it often has unintended consequences. If you find that your feelings are rooted in how they are as a person in general, the feelings are going to be harder to squash, so it’s best if you give yourself a clean break.
6. Remember that you’re the only one who has to live with your choices.
There are two people involved in every decision that deals with matters of love and sex, but what’s most important right now is that you make peace with what you decide to do. Even if you generally choose to find the best outcome for everyone involved, sometimes the best outcome is simply removing yourself.
It’s not necessarily going to be easy, especially if the two of you have built up some mutual chemistry and all that jazz. But staying in a situation that has already started to get complicated will not, in most cases, help to resolve the complications. In most cases, it’ll make things even more confusing and cause you even more pain.
7. Remember that “sex feelings” aren’t the same as “love”.
I’m sure that, in the middle of your hard-hitting feelings, you’re probably not going to want to walk away. Your brain may even come up with all sorts of excuses, like “It’s fate/destiny!” or “As long as I don’t act on these feelings, no harm can come from them.” I really wish I could tell you that you’d be the exception, but… You probably won’t be. That’s why they’re called exceptions.
Most people don’t like to think that they can be tricked by their emotions, and some might even reject the idea completely. But, just as most of us thought our first boyfriend or girlfriend was “the one”, and the first person we had sex with, and the first person we told about that creepy dream we had as a kid… This, too, is probably temporary. Try not to beat yourself up over it.