Could This Hook-Up Be Something More?

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Hi Kitsch Mix,

I’m in need of some advice. I’m somewhat new to the hook-up culture, particularly with women.

Over the past few months, I’ve met up with a girl from Tinder a handful of times. We have sex for hours and basically only leave bed for food and bathroom breaks. In-between meeting up, we text frequently.

I really enjoy her company and the sex is obviously great, but I’m really not looking for a relationship (because I’m a commitment-phobe, still relatively new to women, and closeted AF). But… each time we hook up, things feel a little more intimate, and I’m just bad at keeping feelings separate from sex.

Here’s where I could use some help. Is there a nice way to say hey – I really like having sex with you and spending time with you, but I don’t think I’m looking for a relationship but I don’t know cause I’m an idiot when it comes to relationships?

I don’t really know how she feels about me beyond the sex, so I don’t want to assume that she wants anything more. Am I just over-analyzing the situation? The sane part of me thinks I should just roll with it until something comes up. Please send help, or just tell me I’m being dumb for sending this poor girl so many mixed signals when I could just be having sex.

Hi there, reader! Your question is a complicated one indeed. Truly, this is a bunch of smaller situations going on all at the same time – and that adds for extra confusion for everyone involved. First, let me tell you, you are definitely being unfair to this girl, and to yourself. I wouldn’t go so far as to say dumb, but there’s definitely some mind games going on here.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s go into why this is such an unfair complication. You say that you’re not looking for a relationship, but you’re acting like you want a relationship. According to the general etiquette of casual sex, your time spent with a hook-up should be kept to a minimum. I’ve heard some say that they never hook up with the same person for more than three weeks, unless they decided to pursue a “real” relationship. This seems like a pretty good guideline, but the real number of times it takes for you will depend on personal factors. Once you’re developing feelings for someone, it’s unethical to continue hooking up with each other in a casual context.

The way you’re conducting yourself also makes it more likely that you’re going to get attached to someone. While different people have different tolerances to oxytocin, there are many “romantic behaviors” that influence oxytocin production in the brain. Talking a lot (even over text message) stimulates oxytocin production. Sex stimulates oxytocin production. Orgasm, theoretically, produces more oxytocin than mediocre sex. Spending long periods of time together stimulates oxytocin production. Physical touching, even in a non-sexual context, stimulates oxytocin production.

Oxytocin is a strategically-designed bonding hormone. Along with a slew of other chemicals produced in the brain (many of which are also stimulated by the same activities), this creates a mental high that gets you addicted to your partner, in a manner of speaking. This chemical cocktail manifests itself as “attraction” and “euphoria”. This means, you’re not “bad” at keeping feelings separate – you’re biologically designed not to keep the feelings separate. Your brain is functioning normally, but because you’re new to hook-up culture, you’re not used to these chemical compounds in such high doses yet.

Next: You’re not looking for a relationship – because you’re not good at relationships, you say. This thinking is flawed, too – there’s no such thing as an actual dating expert. Even dating experts ask other people for advice about their own dating life. The truth is, no one is implicitly “good” at dating. You learn as you go – and those of us who give other people advice on the subject? We often learn the hard way what to do and what not to do. You can’t give advice on a situation you have zero experience in. (Thankfully, everything you’ve listed off is super common, and happens to the best of us during our foray into hook-up culture. More on my personal resolution in a minute.)

You can’t get better at dating, until you actually get out there and start dating. If you have feelings for this woman, and the sex is as good as you say it is, why wouldn’t you want a relationship with her? I assume she also knows you’re not “out” and is okay with that. She sounds perfect for you, if you ask me, and I think you’re clinging too tightly to the hook-up culture part of all this. Not everyone is cut out for hook-up culture, and that is 100% okay.

In my own brief stint in the land of one-night stands (which lasted right around a year for me), I had a hard time shaking the idea of monogamy. My brain was already programmed to be loyal to whomever I was with, so when I was hooking up with someone, I was hooking up with only them, until I wasn’t. I’d also been a bit neglected, sexually, in my last relationship, so I thought that hooking up was going to fix my problems. (Plus, I was 18, so it seemed like the thing to do.)

I felt like you did – trying so hard to keep my emotions separate from my sex life. I had a few hook-ups tell me that they loved me, and I told them “No you don’t!” and then never spoke to them again. I had hook-ups who didn’t even have my number, because I was so worried about getting attached… We talked exclusively through the dating apps we met on. (I’ve never used Tinder specifically, though.) I had one hook-up that I saw too many times (for me), and I ended up blurting out that I loved her, in the middle of sex. OK… maybe it was at the end. I seem to not remember any more sex after that – and I never did see her again. (I heard she had a kid a few years ago. Good for her.)

For me, trying to keep my emotions separate was a waste of my time. I’m wired to be monogamous. Not everyone is, though, and I’m sure some of your hesitation is based on the fear that she doesn’t feel the same way you do, so you’re hiding behind “I’m not looking for a relationship”, to keep yourself protected. Your next move depends greatly on what you want to accomplish.

Do you want to keep your love life completely casual?

That could be a good option for you, if you genuinely aren’t looking for a relationship. But you’re going to have to learn the rules. If you started following the rules, but at some point drifted away, you may need to stop seeing her. I’m not trying to imply that you’re not doing these things – but there are certain unspoken rules that should be followed, every time. If you’re not able to follow these rules, it’s entirely possible (and likely) that you’re meant for monogamy. In that case…

Are you ready for a relationship now?

It’s possible that your expectations from your “situationship” have changed – and, if they’ve changed, you need to talk about them with her. It’s unfair to keep your feelings to yourself in this situation. Even if you’re not in a relationship, she deserves honesty. If she continues sleeping with you while you’re developing stronger feelings, you will eventually resent her for “rejecting you” – even if she had no idea she was rejecting you. If she’s interested, too, and also nervous about taking things more seriously, just in case you don’t feel the same way. You don’t necessarily need to imply that her feelings are the same – simply explain to her that you’re developing feelings, and you don’t know if you’ll be able to continue the situation as it currently stands.

Does she mirror your affections?

If she acts like she’s feeling the same way, or if she comes right out and tells you she feels the same way, there’s literally no good reason not to pursue it. You can explain to her that you’re new to dating women – we’ve all been there at some point in time, and as long as you’re trying, she’s going to be patient with you. But you need to be completely honest with her, starting as soon as possible.

I recommend that you do not sleep with her again until after you’ve talked this out. If the sex has become a bit of a habit for you, you should use this as motivation to get the conversation over with sooner. It’s going to be awkward – make no mistake. But, for your own sanity, you need to have this conversation with her.

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