I’m just out of a two year relationship with my first love and trying to have some well-deserved fun. I’ve found a sex partner, and I’m really digging making a new friend out of our overnights. But after about five hookups over the course of a month, I’m getting the sense that I’m being boyfriended and I am so not ready for that. How can I curb expectations without cutting our sex partnership short?
After a break-up the world feels like our oyster—the sheer volume of bodies, the new ideas to explore, the kind of sexual chemistry you never even knew existed. The freedom of being on your own is intoxicating. It’s a ride in a convertible along the Italian coastline, breeze in your hair, some gorgeous person by your side, until suddenly your long scarf gets caught in the spokes of your sport-car and you’re being suffocated and choked to death.
Yes, that is the sensation of being “boy-friended” too soon.
You have a right to enjoy your joyride, my friend. Don’t let anybody get in your way. However, you can do so in a way that doesn’t send you off a cliff and put someone else in the fast-lane to hating your guts.
So how do you keep from going from zero to 60 in three seconds flat with a new boo? I’ll start with a few common pitfalls to avoid (Or, in other words, here’s what you shouldn’t do.)
Keep your eye on the rearview.
Relive all the ways in which you felt suffocated and trapped in your past relationship. Every time your current sexual partner does something that reminds you of one of those things, clam up and try to leave the premises.
Stick to the drive-through.
Don’t go out for food. Sharing meals builds intimacy. No breakfast, no bagels, not even a smoothie.
Keep the getaway car running.
Once a person who I was casually seeing once texted me “WHEN CAN I SEE YOU?” when I got back from a trip. I never responded and completely dropped off the face of the earth for three months. It worked. We don’t hang out anymore. Don’t reply promptly to text messages. Don’t ask questions. Don’t check in. Don’t commit to anything.
Organize your glove compartmenent.
Like many comparamentalizers, I hate introducing people I’m sleeping with to my friends. I just know that if and when that happens, I’ll have to start being the multifaceted, flawed person I actually am as opposed to the carefree, completely uninhibited, Last-Tango-in-Paris version of myself. Don’t do it.
Embrace the sharing economy. Ownership is so ‘90s.
More Uber drivers is always a good thing when you’re looking for a ride. Having more potential boos is no different.
The above are all things I’ve personally done and had done to me. You’ve probably already considered them too, right?
Truth is, the only decent thing to do with people that you’re sleeping with is be honest and open with what exactly is freaking you out about this so-called “boyfriending.” Is it the frequency of the visits? Is it how far into the future you’re planning with this person? Was it a specific request like, “Can I leave a toothbrush at your house?“ Is it that you think there’s someone better out there?
Sometimes little things that people do can trigger our minds to explode into a constellation of negative associations and fears, which are sometimes unfounded. Just because someone says something "girlfriend-y” or “boyfriend-y,” it doesn’t mean that’s the expectation.
That being said:
Continue taking test drives.
If you’re still looking to explore other people, then, by all means, go forth. The person who’s boyfriending you is probably doing the same.
Take a solo roadtrip.
One of the greatest things about getting out of a relationship that wasn’t working is more time to do what you want to do. Go see a movie alone. Cook yourself dinner. Go camping solo. Not inviting anybody (including your sex partner) to these kinds of activities can be both liberating and enjoyable.
Turn on cruise control.
Nothing in life stays the same for long, which is why I never understood cruise control. That being said, sometimes the feeling of consistency can make drivers and passengers feel better. And just like with cruise control, you have the power to define the speed of the drive. “It’s great seeing you once a week,” may be all the talk you need. Or maybe it’s time to just be real, and say something like, “I’ve never been able to booty call anybody ever in my life, and you’re the first one I’ve done that with, and it’s great, and I don’t want to change that.“
Rev your engine.
What makes you feel free in your life? For me it’s knowing that I can always leave. Take the train to Coney Island and stare at the water, sublet my apartment for a month and go to the mountains, rent a car and visit my dead relatives’ stomping grounds in Alabama. Ask yourself about the things that have nothing to do with other people and start doing them. If other people want to come, great; if not, bye.
Spend time with your friends. Breakups are great moments to reconnect with the people who knew you when. Most friendships will last longer than your romantic ones, and they deserve a lot of attention.
Once I was with somebody rather casually and this person offered to drive me to the airport. I balked. I couldn’t commit. I would have rather paid $50 for a cab. I was completely freaked out. It was just a nice thing to do but the idea of having another person see me to the airport was too much for me. It felt, for whatever reason, “relationship-y” and I couldn’t handle that. I protested. He insisted. Let me tell you, dear reader: he picked me up in his BMW, and it was the best goddamn ride to the airport of my life.
So good, in fact, I may spend the rest of my life in an on-and-off thing with the driver. I may even fall in love with him…
But still, I sure as hell hope I never get "girlfriended.” What a joyless ride that would be.
Just the Tips is Playboy.com’s weekly advice column, with professional matchmaker Katherine Cooper. Have a question for Katherine about sex, love or dating? Shoot her a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.