The Sex and Breakfast model of dating is so simple that I really wish I came up with it. Like all revolutionary ideas, it happened almost by accident. I was having coffee a couple summers ago with my friend at one of those places where it’s just the owner and whatever recent high school graduate is working that week. As at almost every coffee date I ever have, we ended up discussing this guy she was seeing. We’ll call him Brad and her Janet.
This is the story as I remember it: Janet had been seeing Brad since the summer started, and she described a passion I’d only seen in Michael Douglas movies. They would have sex on the tabletop, and then move to the floor, then back to the tabletop, and finish off with a glass of sangria on her veranda. As she described her cartoonishly perfect romance novel life, I was incredibly confused, as Janet is like me — a little too buttoned-up for her own good. Everyone we know constantly compares her to Rory Gilmore, and the idea of Rory getting buckwild all over the dinette set boggled my mind. So, how did she do it? How did Rory Gilmore score the Summer of Sexcapades?
Here’s how it worked. First, their relationship was based entirely on sex. Outside of the sexing, it was mutually agreed upon that they were just friends, which meant that they could hang out in groups without it turning into an Edward Albee play. Brad wasn’t seeing anyone else, and neither was Janet, but they were both in med school at the time, and so scheduling anything outside of sex was next to impossible. However, the problem for Janet is that casual sex in itself often lacked intimacy for her. Of course, the sex was fine (because it’s sex), but Janet needed that something extra. So, to remedy that, Janet started letting him stay over afterwards, and in the mornings, they would brunch together before parting ways.
As soon as she said the word “brunch,” actual fireworks went off in my brain, and I thought I was going to end up with one of those exploding heads from Scanners. She had no idea what she was saying was so extraordinary or that she had cracked The Da Vinci Code of hooking up. I blurted out, “Janet, you are a sex genius!” I shared my epiphany, which I had already coined the Sex and Breakfast Theory, and started pulling out my proverbial John Nash chalkboard to diagram it for her. For me, her situation was the perfect distillation of what every 20-something who doesn’t have time for a John and Yoko thing wants. It was the Diet Coke of a relationship, all the taste but with no calories — and fewer repercussions if one of you dies and then all of your friends blame the other for breaking up your band.
And if you haven’t gotten the picture, Sex and Breakfast rests on two simple pillars: Sex…and Breakfast. There’s no unnecessary complication, no need to worry about whether your parents will like them or if their face will look good on your children. It’s Friends With Many, Many Benefits, like the benefit of cuddling all night, staying over and not needing to worry about calling them the next day if you have seventeen finals. It’s intimacy, but not intimacy that’s going to show up at your house uninvited, become better friends with your parents than you are or reenact scenes from Sid and Nancy when you break up.
However, for the Sex and Breakfast relationship to work, both parties need to agree that the relationship is casual — because Brunch can be dangerous. I’ve gone to Brunch with casual guys before and ended up in pointless two-month relationships where he breaks up with you because he wants to “spend more time with his mom” and then ends up going to Clairvoyance School afterwards. Accidental commitment can happen at Brunch when you least expect it, and to prevent this, I’ve decided to start ordering my eggs “not ready to be in a relationship right now…with extra breakfast potatoes.”
You see, it’s not that commitment is bad — because in many cases, Sex and Breakfast actually leads to a relationship down the road. It’s that you need to make sure that’s what you want first and you need to talk about that. Set guidelines, mutual expectations. Communication and honesty is important in every relationship, whether you’re throwing a Golden Anniversary or a Golden Shower, so make sure you are on the same page about things. If not, that’s how Forgetting Sarah Marshall happens. You want Sex and Breakfast, not Sex and Crying Uncontrollably While Naked.
Also, be sure to not only be honest with the other person what you want — but to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself what you really want from this person, and if the answer is anything more than just sex and watching Game of Thrones afterward, you’re done. Nothing is worse in a relationship — whether casual or not — than lying to yourself about your needs being met, and no one should make you feel badly about wanting commitment, especially not yourself. Unless the two of you met on Grindr, FetLife or the Republican National Convention, a friendship could be at stake here, and so proceed with caution and intentionality.
But if both of you can swing it without one of you becoming a Secret Clinger, the Sex and Breakfast model of relationships can be liberating, especially for your sanity and your planner. As someone who takes relationships (and even my hookups) seriously, sometimes you have to be honest that’s what you have space for. Sometimes, you just have to own up and give in…to Brunch. And if you aren’t a Brunch person, then may God have mercy on your hollow soul.
Afterword: Brad and Janet ended up going back and dating later when they had the time, emotional and mental capacity to responsibly be in a real relationship. They dated for almost a year and broke up for reasons that had nothing to do with Eggs Benedict. They are still friends and are happily dating other people.