So I thought this week's post would be a little rundown of some ideas I had about how to conduct a successful foray into the "date for the evening" category of relationships. I have found over the years that these types of "relationships" are fraught with complications, hurt feelings, and confusion, and it really doesn't have to be that way if you take a few pieces of advice to heart. So I wanted to offer my advice for hooking up Big E Style. Now, this is not a safety or physical advice type of thing, because we all know what those rules are (use birth control, always have money for a cab, take your phone, let someone know where you are, etc.), but rather how to be successful emotionally and mentally. Because that's where the problems start.
1. You MUST compartmentalize. What I mean is, you have to learn to separate feelings from actions. Men are great at this most of the time. Ladies, not so much. I know there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, guys are really good at disassociating the "feelings" aspect of bumping uglies from the "physical" aspect. They don't get all misty eyed when they finish, they don't sit around analyzing every word that was said, and they certainly don't sit around wondering if she'll ever call again. They just put that experience in the spank bank and call it a day. Scientists call this ability "compartmentalizing," meaning they are able to separate emotion from physical feelings, and apparently men are genetically hardwired to be better at it. So ladies, if you're going to hook up, you're going to have to figure out how to do this or you'll end up a blubbering mess the next time you drink a little too much and regale your local barkeep with sob stories. Learn to take it for what it is: he's cute, you're single and cute, he's been drinking some, you've been drinking some, and your hormones are racing faster than the Top 5 at the Kentucky Derby. Don't get to know him, don't ask him questions about his family, just see him as a hot piece just as down for a good time as you are. The minute you start wondering what your kids will look like is the minute you've gone too far. I'm not saying compartmentalizing is easy; I've fallen prey to attaching emotions where there were none, but I've learned from my mistakes. I've also learned that very, very rarely do flings turn into anything real. I was one of those exceptions; I had a vacation fling that turned into a two and half year relationship. The crux of the matter was I didn't get invested straight out of the gate. I met him on vacation, we had a lovely couple of days together, and then I put him in the "vacation fling" cubby hole in my brain and let it be. I never expected him to call again, and I had a great story to tell my friends when I got home. I even told the girls I vacationed with when they asked me if I thought he would call, "no, he got what he wanted, why would he call?" Just because he did, and because we ended up dating, doesn't mean it will ever happen again. And it doesn't mean it will happen to you. So let your mantra be: "relax and detach."You'll thank me one day.
2. Try to stage the rundown on your turf. I am a big proponent of hooking up where you feel most comfortable, and for me that's my own place. Now, I know there are reasons against this, namely you don't want people to know where you live or you have a roommate or whatever. And sometimes it is fun to get down in a new location or a neutral territory like a friend's house. All I'm saying is, if it's possible, then try to bring them back to your place. For one, you don't have to do the walk of shame the next day. You can simply stay in bed while they fumble around for shoes and accessories that got strewn about in the heat of passion, provided you haven't already gathered their belongings by the front door for convenience and ease of exit. You also have the luxury of not having to sneak out, and as an added bonus the opportunity to kick them out at your leisure rather than waiting on them to politely request that you vamoose. Then you can hightail it to the bathroom and get your business done and take a shower while you compartmentalize.
3. If you go to their place, drive your own car. Sort of a corollary to #2, but I find it easier to make a quick getaway if you have a getaway car. If you don't, you run the risk of being trapped in someone's house for hours until they wake up, or having to call a friend to pick you up and you have no idea where you are, or the worst, having to call a cab and you have no idea where you are. That said, obviously if you've had too much to drink when you're planning your hookup, you need to cab it or get a drop off or have him drive your car to his house. But if you're even close to being lucid enough to drive, hang out for a little longer and tantalize him while sobering up enough to drive to said staging area. You'll be glad you did when it's 6 am and you're ready to crash in your own bed.
4. Be a little discerning about who your chosen victim will be. The gene pool is not as varied in some places as in others, so I realize that you may not have the ability to be a "Jif girl" and be choosy. But at least try to avoid the following categories of folks for hooking up purposes: people who have a crush on you, people you have a crush on, exes, people your friends have dated and are not over yet. If you can narrow it down even a little bit, your chances of A. not causing drama and B. not getting stalked/being a stalker are significantly lessened. Like I said before, feelings are the number one reason hook ups turn into epic fails. If you have any emotional attachments still lingering or unspoken, you're taking a risk. And the only person you hurt is usually yourself. If you simply must choose a friend or acquaintance, the same "no feelings" rule still applies. You have to be sure that you're both cool with hanging out in the group without being awkward. Because there's nothing worse than the scene in Reality Bites right after Lainey and Troy hook up and things are all weird at the club. In the words of Vicki, "sex is the quickest way to ruin a friendship." Make sure your pros and cons list is well thought out before you take that leap.
5. Know when to say no. It's like the old saying goes, "friends don't let friends get with lame hookups." If the person has a significant other or a spouse, just say no. If the person is a known player and you find yourself falling prey to his charms, just say no. You'll be one of the very few who probably will. And you'll be glad you did, not only for your emotional well being, but your dignity as well. You have to make things work on your terms, not someone elses, or you'll end up with a bunch of regrets at the end of the day. You have to take control of your situation and know what you're doing. If you're out one night and you feel like hooking up, think about your plan of action. If you're cool with compartmentalizing and making it work, then all signs point to yes. If your gut tells you you're making a mistake, take a hint and just let it go. Like I said, you'll be glad you did.
So that's it folks. Let me know what you think or if you have other suggestions.