Sexual Attraction + Compatibility = Nothing?

January 26, 2009

coupleproblem1“I’m really attracted to you. I have a great time with you. You’re awesome, you’re the coolest girl I know. Your friendship means a lot to me. I don’t want to date you.”



This seems to be the standard hookup dump line these days. In fact, if you get that much, you’re lucky; this level of emotional sharing is reserved for the very best, most intimate hookups that are destined for the trash heap. I must confess, I don’t get it. What is wrong with this picture? Don’t boys realize that love is a drug? That falling in love is the best high there is in this life? 

OK, guys want to sleep around. I get that. But surely the whole hookup script must get tiresome. The drinking to blackout, the looking around the room as closing time nears, hooking up with a stranger, spooning in a twin bed and not getting enough sleep, waking up with a hangover and a horrible taste in your mouth. Kissing the stranger on the cheek, going through the motions of putting the stranger’s number in your phone.

Even if guys are programmed to crave variety, is the sameness, the monotony of this awkward weekend scene not enough to make them want something more, something different, like having sex with someone you are crazy about? 

Uh, I guess not. 

So what can girls do? How can girls maintain their self-respect? Studies about hooking up have turned up a phenomenon called “the fake boyfriend.” The fake boyfriend is the boy that you’ve been hooking up with for a while, and you know he’s not hooking up with anyone else.

But… haven’t Defined the Relationship explicitly.

But…..he is still texting you all the time. And you’ve hooked up four weekends in a row. His friends tease him and call you his girlfriend. He holds your hand in public. And you would never consider hooking up with someone else randomly now and risk losing him just when you were getting somewhere. Plus, you like him, you don’t want anyone else right now.

But….you wish he would just bring it up and make it official. 

And…..poof, he’s gone. No texts. Eyes averted on campus. His behavior when you see him out at night is overtly single male obnoxious. His friends confide sympathetically that “he handled that poorly.” Your friends say, “he sucks.” How is this possible? You know he liked you. You know you were compatible and were building something real. Ugh, it must be your fault. You couldn’t get him to care enough. You weren’t good enough to get him off the market. You weren’t enough, weren’t enough, weren’t enough. And off he goes, oblivious to your hurt feelings, seeking another girl to begin the cycle again. 

How could this disaster have been prevented? As young women navigate their way through the hookup culture, one of the most common mistakes they make is to behave like a girlfriend, when, in fact, they should be acting like a free agent. You must ask him explicitly what his intentions are before you find yourself in a vulnerable position.

For some girls, that might mean the first hookup. A few girls will not feel vulnerable even in a sustained sexual NSA (No Strings Attached) relationship. But most women desire a commitment from a man before they share their body with him. You have to know yourself, and you are responsible for looking out for your own feelings. You can’t know what he is thinking unless you ask him explicitly, and until he answers explicitly.

Girls hate to initiate “the talk,” with good reason. Guys dread “the talk.” Fair enough. But you owe it to yourself to keep your options open until you have agreed to be exclusive. It is far too common for girls to learn that the boy they’ve been “seeing” has hooked up with someone else. When you don’t verbalize what you want, you lose control. Girls are afraid of verbalizing their desire for a relationship, of pressuring the guy to commit. They figure he’ll bolt if they pressure him. Guys have figured this out. They go along, getting as much as they can from a girl for as long as it lasts.

Is it possible that he will fall for you even though he didn’t intend to? Yes, but it’s unlikely. Guys usually can state up front whether they are open to the idea of being in a relationship, and they usually don’t change their minds. You can be in control of your relationship if you state clearly what you want and what you will not tolerate. If he walks, well, you know what I’m gonna say. Good riddance. It is not your job to coax him out of his avowed intention not to be tied down to any one girl. Until he commits, you should feel free to encourage attention from any guy who expresses interest. Keep your distance, protect your heart. Whatever you do, do not wear it on your sleeve! heart-on-sleeve