This week: a free-range discussion about the differences between dates and hook-ups.
First things first: definitions. Hook-ups are when the mood’s just right and you don’t want to have to think past that drink; dates are when you’ve made an effort to look your best and plan the night. Hook-ups are just dancing and then finding yourself on someone’s couch at seven a.m. in your underwear; dates are when this cardigan makes it looked dressed up, but this band shirt “makes me look cool.” Don’t forget the sunglasses.
The hook-up is stigmatized, mostly by people who can’t have them or don’t admit to having them. Dates are misunderstood, mostly because they turn into hook-ups. There is nothing wrong with a hook-up, so stop moralizing and hating yourself for them. (That’s mostly for girls, as guys never really moralize hook-ups.) Dates are equal to their weight in gold, so be wise when dating.
Here’s the problem with hook-ups: sometimes they’re confused with dates. A hook-up can simply be fogging up your car by making out or regretting half of May because you spent it horizontally. The hook-up needs to be quick and dirty like the emotional attachment you have to them. The most you need to invest is a few beers and maybe a few sweet words.
Dates should never turn into hook-ups unless you realize the person isn’t worth a year of emotional turmoil. Girls will weed out the boys who only look for hook-ups and the guys will make girls want them more.
So here are a few tips for successful hook-ups and dates.
This will either seal or destroy it. No one likes someone who seems they’re unsure of what to do in bed or in life. Don’t be too aggressive, be charming and always make it seem like it’s no big drama-filled event. They’ll appreciate it, and this might allow you to cash in a few more times.
2. Think it through.
If it looks like you’re gonna catch something, avoid. If you recognize you’re even slightly drunk, be prepared to deal with realizing you slept with a train wreck in the morning. And always carry condoms.
To continue to have wonderful hook-ups, the key is to not tell anyone about it. (You should have a best friend that you tell all your dirty secrets to, but never cross this person and always keep wonderful communication about your friendship alive.) A hook-up, good or bad, can ruin your reputation and that of your fling. It might also limit your hook-up/dating pool as a person’s past is often a factor.
This is easier said than done, and cliché to point out. It is also the best advice. So look in the mirror; take a deep breath; have a glass of water.
2. Think it through.
If you don’t even have back-up conversation (maybe an interesting thing happened to you that day) then you’ve not thought this through. Every date has lulls in it. This shouldn’t be rehearsed because then you’ll seem rigid; never take different people on the same date. Go somewhere that won’t be overly populated with people you know as then you’re just hanging out. This provides an opportunity for them to see you engage with other people — which often helps — but maintains a healthy distance from your everyday life.
If you want to continue to date this person, be very aware of how you spin your world to them. Use appropriate language. Dropping the f-bomb every sentence makes you seem irate and uneducated. Only use words to which you know the meaning and are comfortable using as you can risk looking like a douche bag. Finally, the worst thing you can do: talk about an ex.
You know the scenario. Perhaps you’ve been in this situation; you probably have. It happens all the time — enough to merit this column and an episode or two of Sex and the City, anyway.
Boy and girl (or boy & boy or girl & girl) show some degree of interest in one another and plan to meet up to decide whether said interest will lead to the possible consummation of a relationship. Drinks are had, tidbits of personal information are traded, witty banter is exchanged, and before either party knows it, they’re patting down their disheveled hair, gathering articles of clothing that were haphazardly discarded hours before, thinking, “Okay. That just happened. Now what?”
Now what? I mean, first of all, was it even a date? Should you have sex with someone on a legit first date? Was this whole meeting for the purpose of getting into my pants? Was this a hookup? What does he / she think this is? Should I ask? What now?? Ugh!
First of all, breathe, babe. It’s going to be fine. We’ll figure this out together…
The key difference between a date and a hook is up the intention behind it. Was this the runaway train of dates and your eyes are still on the possibility of a relationship? Maybe. And if it was, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. From a logical standpoint, sex on a first date doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to be nothing but a booty call for the other person. If you’re going to fall in love with a person, the timing of the sex shouldn’t make a difference in the long run. Plus, the very act of courting is a big fun, stressful, anxiety-filled carefully constructed game in which a relationship and consequent sleeping together is the outcome. Skipping right to the sex allows you to orbit around all that awkwardness. Also, should you and your date decide that maybe you’re not as compatible as you had initially thought, as least you didn’t waste your time with multiple dates, hours of small talk, and a few good outfits to find that out.
If it didn’t turn out to be as much about finding a future boyfriend/ girlfriend than it was about just having sex, then both people need to be on the same page. It’s best to be blatantly honest about where you stand and what kind of relationship you both expect, to avoid hurt feelings later. It’s also important to set up guidelines to follow to avoid being too “couple-y” and blurring the very thin lines that being a “friends with benefits” entails. Examples of this include: No sleeping over, no date-type outings (dinner, movies, etc. are out of the question), not watching your partner’s band play a show at the local coffee shop, no meeting their families, no telling every single person about your arrangement… A hookup is a good way to experiment and figure out what you like and don’t like about sex. But, please, for the love of everything good in the world, always use protection. Always. And when it’s time for to move on from your hookup friend, do so on good terms. You might find that there is potential for a friendship in the person that now knows you in a way that many people probably don’t. Or, at the very least, you might want to hook up with that person in the future. It’s never a good idea to burn bridges. Even when it comes to sex.