Hooking Up vs Having Feelings

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Sometimes, two people effortlessly swan into a blissful relationship from the moment they first hook up. There are no games, no letdowns, no waiting three days to send a text. Their lives just seem to instantly tessellate.

For the rest of us, courtship in the age of sexual libertarianism is a confusing experience. You keep your emotions in check. You put your best foot forward and keep your heart tucked up your sleeve. You fuck with a deliberate kind of nonchalance and try not to let it slip that you care.

Through it all, one question reverberates: when do we stop fucking and start making love?

At 18 I loudly proclaimed that love wasn’t for me. I told myself I just wasn’t a very romantic person. Monogamy seemed stifling, romance corny. What seemed simpler and more appealing was a few nights of fun, no strings attached.

It’s great to be able to appreciate casual sex for what it is – lots of people are too inhibited to enjoy random sexual encounters or don’t get the chance to do it as much as they would like. But keeping your heart closed to love is depriving yourself of something vital.

Six years, a lot of sex and not too many relationships later, my stance on romance has changed. I’ve started to yearn for something more heartfelt, but I’m scared that I’ve become too over-analytical and self-reflexive to let love happen.

I sometimes do this narcissistic thing where I imagine that I’m the star of The Truman Show, living a life mapped out by producers and televised for audiences. Thinking of your life as a narrative that can be sculpted into perfection is a trap, because things don’t always make sense.

You begin to wonder how your romantic life would look from the outside and you start thinking of your hookups as types. You’re supposed to end up with the boy with good bone structure and earnest opinions who you had a chance encounter with at an art gallery. But maybe, just maybe, that furniture removalist with a big dick who laughed in your face when you asked who his favorite author was is the one who is truly going to make you happy.

In almost every physical affair there is a moment when you look at the person lying next to you and wonder if you could fall in love with them. This emotion running through your body doesn’t have to be ignored, because fucking someone and having feelings for them are not inverse operations.

Next time you wake up in a stranger’s bed, don’t rush out the door. If the sex was good, stay for breakfast and get to know the person whose body you just enjoyed. Surprise yourself and others might too. TC Mark

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