Monday, March 18, 2013

If Only For A Night (Or a Few): Hook Up Buddy Etiquette

Despite what we may believe, the world hasn’t changed as much as we think. This is primarily due to the fact that it is inhabited by humans and human nature is timeless. Wars are fought over the same thing and people have the same fundamental needs that they always have. What has shifted, though, is the perception and acceptance of lifestyles and acts.

From the beginning of time, sex and relationships have been an intricate part of human existence. In centuries past, people were not celibate, however, they hid their sexual exploits due to societal pressure and the desire to appear a certain way. These days, there is a much more cavalier attitude to sex. There are those who wait for marriage, or those who only engage in intimate acts with ones that they are in love with, but a majority of the population, at least in the western world, have sex casually. They do it for the enjoyment of the act rather than putting some kind of sacred meaning to it. For some, it’s just filling a void, for others it’s satisfying a need. Either way, people are having sex for pleasure and are doing so openly.

Some people get their fix from one night stands and some seek out something slightly more meaningful, in the form of a hook up buddy, which is basically an arrangement between two people where they have sex, but without the randomness of a one night stand or the drama that a relationship could bring to the table. Hook up buddies are increasingly common these days, and despite the “no drama” factor, they’re actually pretty complex relationships, ones that I have spent the past few weeks researching (by email, whatsapp, and face to face interviews aka accosting people at bars barraging them with questions) It turns out, just like romantic relationships, no two are the same, they are unpredictable and rules vary according to the situation.

 People fall into these kinds of relationships for all different kinds of reasons: commitment issues, recent break up, “dry spells”, not wanting a relationship, or just the desire to enjoy the benefits of sex without having to worry about what it means.  Hook up buddies, can, in fact, work, despite protests by some that they can not. It’s all about frame of mind and ensuring that both parties are on the same page. As I said, there are very few rules aside from transparency, however there are some “best practices:”

To sleep over or not: I got such a wide variety of answers on this one. Some people (all men) were insistent that a hook up buddy should never spend the night. They stated that a sleepover blurred the lines. However, the more interviews I conducted (men and women), it was determined that the best practice in this case IS to sleep over, if for no reason more than morning sex. Most of the people I talked to stated that it was pretty much assumed that a sleepover would occur and that it wasn’t a big deal. However the bottom line is: one should do what they feel is right at the time. Also, it is never ok to kick someone out.

Communication:  Since a hook up buddy is obviously someone you know, you have a preexisting relationship with them so this shouldn’t be forgotten. It is ok, essential even, to have some kind of communication with them in addition to making plans to meet up. I’m not suggesting that you talk on the phone every night about your hopes and dreams but they shouldn’t be ignored. It is SO easy to communicate these without actually speaking days; we have email, texts, WhatsApp etc, so engaging in banter, flirting, and casual conversation is hardly challenging. If you expect for someone to be enthusiastic to hop into bed with you, then be willing and prepared to chat to them. Consider it an investment in your sex life. Five minutes every few days goes a long way. Most of the people I surveyed on this matter agreed that “even though they know what the situation was, they like the pretense and didn’t want to feel used.”

Discretion: This is between you and the other person, there is no need for everyone in the world to know your business. This person is not your girlfriend or boyfriend so talking about them incessantly will eventually get back to them and most likely result in a termination of your little agreement. 

Transparency and Honesty: In most cases, the ongoing situation is quite clear and doesn't need to be discussed (who likes the awkward, "So I'm not really looking for anything serious..." conversation?) but sometimes it has to be had. The only way, seriously, that this situation works out is that both people are fully aware of what the deal is and are ok with it. The second something changes, you need to be honest about it.

Respect: It's pretty obvious that we should be respectful of those around us, especially those we are sleeping with, but one of the points that kept coming up in my surveys was the matter that feeling respected was pretty important in these situations. Being respectful isn't that difficult and we all know how to do it so there are no excuses for behaving otherwise. On a side note: the person we are most responsible to is ourselves. If we feel uncomfortable or disrespected than it is our right and within our best interests to disengage from a situation that hinders this. 

Hang Out: There was a bit of discrepancy on this one but the majority of people I spoke to agreed that you should hang out with your hook up buddy, especially prior to hooking up with them. You may not want to date the person but spending time with them having drinks/dinner shouldn't be completely repellent to you. If it is, perhaps opt for a booty call or one night stand. Or someone you pay for.

Be realistic: You may agree to a situation but it's important that you actually understand it and what it entails. No matter how much fun you have, or how nice it is to hang out with that person, or how flirty they are, the fact is that it isn't going any further than where it is right now. It is what it is and expectations of it evolving will only result in disappointment on your end and annoyance on their end.

Third Parties: Remember: this person is not your girlfriend or boyfriend. While they should respect you and make you feel comfortable they don't owe you anything more than what is established. They are allowed to see other people, it is none of your business if they do, nor should you ask them about it.

Don't be selfish: Just because you aren't dating the person, doesn't mean you should be an inconsiderate lover. This is, after all, an agreement between two people that they are both supposed to benefit from.

Be responsible: Hopefully I don't have to explain this. 

So key take aways:
1. In regards to sleeping over, do what you feel comfortable with, though staying over is optimal. Never make someone leave.
2. Flirting/banter/casual conversations should happen. This isn't a stranger and you don't want someone to feel used.
3. Don't talk about it
4. Make sure you're on the same page
5. Be nice and respectful.
6. This isn't a booty call, therefore some hanging out is usually required. Drinks/dinner is not a big deal, and if it is, then rethink the situation and person.
7. Don't have unrealistic expectations, it is what it is.
8. Who else they're seeing is not your business. Just like yours isn't theirs.
9. Both parties should enjoy this, so bring your best to the bedroom.
10. Be responsible

I mentioned booty calls several times, and even though most everyone knows what they are, especially if they are reading this post, here is a definition of what a booty call is, and how it differs from a hook up buddy:

Booty Call: As discussed in my relationship handbook, a booty call is something in between a one night stand and a hook up buddy. A booty call is someone you call simply for sex, you don’t generally hang out outside of the bedroom, nor do you sleep over. No chatting necessary. However, most people are more onboard with the idea of being someones hook up buddy vs a booty call.

*Thank you to everyone that I interviewed, who patiently (and honestly!) answered my zillion and in-depth questions and “what-if scenarios” especially GS, JW, AL, AB, BL, JM

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