Equal parts sexy and steamy, Hollywood film and popular music have glamorized casual hook-ups for decades. Almost anyone can identify the draw: playing coy and receiving sexual gratification without carrying the heavy burden of commitment makes the No Strings Attached lifestyle appear favorable to those captivated by the allure of a wild Friday night but a Saturday morning spent in bed with the cat.
Commitment can be crushing, especially for young twenty-somethings still searching for a place in the working world. While friends get engaged and newsfeeds flood with updates of ultrasounds and sparkling fourth-fingers, the rest of us are newly graduated and attempting to balance crippling student loan debt with the concept of stability in a career. You might find yourself asking: How am I supposed to foster a new relationship when I don’t know what city I’m going to live in six months from now?
Yet somewhere between bitter morning coffee and complaints of a dreary commute, the balance shifts and you find yourself thinking of him, or her, and can’t get your mind away from the possibility of intertwined balmy toes twisted beneath an afghan blanket on a Friday night. And why deny yourself the pleasure of companionship? After all, you are an adult, and there’s no rule against casual ‘dating’, with a loose definition of relationship boundaries that allows for the marriage of freedom and intimacy. But beware of this temporary arrangement; it is easily muddled and can leave one or both parties feeling unsatisfied and used.
For those of us in the transition phase between major life events – it could be graduating from high school and going to college, graduating from college and going into the workforce, waiting for acceptance to a graduate school, or any combination of the above – it’s often so much easier to slip into this dalliance with the understanding that nothing long-term can be put into place. Often, from these arrangements, a relatioNOTship is birthed. Beware: a mutually beneficial relationship that rarely captivates emotional depth, the relatioNOTship thrives on a sexual appetite and fills the void in your transition gray area. Like the cliché, it’s not about Mr. (or Miss) Right; it’s about Mr. Right Now.
Very similar to a No Strings Attached mindset, the “Not” will fulfill the role of significant other in your life without actually offering the support that a boyfriend or girlfriend normally would. Though not applicable to all casual hook-ups or one-night-stands, the ugly consequences of casual sex aren’t clear until you are standing in the midst of this “half-relationship”, with blurred lines leaving you unsure of the future and feeling angry.
Because regardless of initial intent, there’s a high probability that one side of the arrangement is going to want more as time progresses. Here are some warning signs that your relatioNOTship should become your No Thanks. Stat.
1. If the person continuously rejects exclusivity (either in public or private) for the purpose of being with other people without having to answer for it. If you aren’t okay with polygamy and your Not refuses to respect that, kick it to the curb.
2. If you feel used at any point. This should be a mutually beneficial and enjoyable experience between two consenting adults. The minute you feel cheapened or used by the other person, it’s time to re-evaluate.
3. If the person isn’t willing to take responsibility for their end of sex. A conversation needs to occur regarding birth control, STDs, and so forth. Regardless of who it’s coming from – whether the female won’t let her partner wear a condom or the male won’t get tested for STDs – something is wrong. Ladies, you shouldn’t ever pay for Plan B by yourself. End of story.
4. If one party wants to further things into a relationship and the other doesn’t. This never ends well. Once there is dissonance between the two, it will be impossible to return to the carefree “fun” ‘Notship that you got involved in this for in the first place.
5. Sadly, all good things must come to an end. (Except Nutella, and binge-watching the Hunger Games.) Hopefully, by the time you make it to your “transition” time period, you will part on a good note. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to pick things up and have a “real” relationship in the future. Never say never, and have a hell of a lot of fun while you can.