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.”

 

WTF?

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…..you 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


  • What’s up with the GIRLS who have boyfriends they are not happy with, yet who flirt incessantly with me? The ones who get drunk and call/text/interweb me in the middle of the night, telling me things like they’d rather be with me than their boyfriend? The girls who use a glass of wine as an excuse to make out/hook-up with me behind closed doors, but stay with the BFs they supposedly loathe? The ones who bolt when I ask them to break up with said “loser” BF?

    Let’s not forget that it’s a two-way street often resulting in, “I’m really attracted to you. I have a great time with you. You’re awesome, you’re the coolest GUY I know. Your friendship means a lot to me. I don’t want to date you.”

    I’m a guy and most of the time, I’m perfectly alright with hooking up with girls that have loser boyfriends. Sometimes, I actually prefer this. Let their BF handle all the leg work, I’ll take them when they’re drunk and horny. But, I’m also a heart-sleever from time to time. So, girls, WTF is going through your head?

    • susanawalsh

      Grrrr, I hate the girls who do this shit and ruin it for everyone else! Douche Baguettes. Jon, you make a very good point, I know there are lots of great guys getting jerked around. BTW, it sounds like there might be one particular girl who is upsetting you at the moment. FIDO: F**k It Drive On, she is unworthy!!!!

      OK, now a word to my girls: This guy getting shafted is nuts. I mean, this chick must be certifiably insane. Jon Ray is soooooo The Whole Package. He is adorable, funny, sweet, successful, so smart, he has really got it going on. I have a little cougar crush on him from his blog, and I keep trying to transfer it to my 19 year-old daughter, who just says “Get outta here.” But I’m telling you, this boy is such a catch!

      His blog is at http://www.whoisjonray.com, and I recommend you start by reading “On Being a Nice Guy,” as it relates to his comment here. He’s in his mid-20s, lives in Austin, TX. On his blog he lists his phone number, so I encourage you to check him out and then give him a call. Seriously, girls, he’s hot.

  • Wow did that post hit close to home. I “dated” a guy for three months and that is basically the speech I got when he found someone else. WTF??? I am in my early 30s and have been around the block a time or two, and while I have dated more than my share of douche bags, I believe that good & decent and nice guys still exist. It’s just wading through the bullshit that gets tiring.

    • susanawalsh

      True story. I give you a ton of credit for not giving up on the male species entirely. There ARE decent men out there. I’ve been married to a sweetie pie for 24 years, yikes. 🙂

  • Megan

    So when is John Ray moving to NYC? My current hookup right in front of me tonight told a girl he didn’t have a girlfriend and then told her how it was so cool of her to make time in her busy schedule to hang out with her friend. I was like excuse me what do you think I do all day twiddle my thumbs. Needless to say he did not get this girls number and told me later he did not get a vibe from her so he isn’t going to call her. Then was like when will I see you again. I told him he’ll see me when he sees me. I’m taking a two week time out from him and see what he does at my birthday. Seriously I do not need another best friend.

    • susanawalsh

      AAARRRGGGHHH. This guy is a fuckwit! How on earth can he think that behavior is OK? The fact that he was so open about it tells me that he is not seeking a relationship, or that the two of you are not on the same page. I think taking a time out is a v. good idea. And when that’s over if he tries to get in there I would ask him what his deal is. I hate to see you waste time, tho in the past he has been very sweet. You need to find out what’s going on there, so you don’t waste the pretty.

      xoxo

  • Megan

    I do need to find out what is going on here and have failed pretty awful at the break thing. If only he didn’t like talking with me and I with him. I’m trying I really am and we have only been emailing about plans for this weekend which is a group thing. Ah maybe perhaps I will talk. He just keeps throwing around the friend word so I’m guessing I’ll just take his lead be friends and flirt shamelessly with other guys and hopefully find one or at least make him realize what he is missing out on by just being friends. There are many fish in the sea and he is just one.

    • susanawalsh

      Ah, you are 80% of the way there! You realize that he is just one guy, and that perhaps it is not going to happen. So I say: Don’t get even, get even better. His loss.

  • Megan

    You are so right.

  • Megan

    Ugh I just can’t stay away. On the bright side he does all the contacting I just refuse to ignore it.

  • susanawalsh

    Well, that’s understandable – and OK. Sounds like you know better at this point than to get emotionally invested. What about having a convo with him about all of this? Just a thought.

  • Megan

    A conversation is going to be had soon. He lives outside the city so we haven’t had a chance to just have any one on one time recently. I’m planning on it soon. No worries I even have something planned out to say. Thanks for your comments they really are helpful and it is nice to have a place to write about what’s going on and know other people are going through it to. All my friends are in relationships so it can be rather frustrating being the single one.

    • susanawalsh

      I’ve got my fingers crossed! Glad you enjoy HUS and find it helpful – that’s
      why I’m here.

  • Morning_glory

    Hi, Susana! I recently discovered your blog. I don’t agree with everything, but sometimes you are incredibly right (and cool!). I know my comment here is late, but I just read this and is exactly what I went through this week. I had been hooking up for 3 months with this dude, he always asked me the spend the next day hanging out at his place and he asked me to go out to movies and stuff a couple of times. He even took a day off from work to be with me! This week I finally summoned the courage to ask him if it was just sex, because in that case I didn’t wanted to sleep at his place or hang out any more, just leave afterwards. (I though it was pretty dangerous to get so close to a guy if wasn’t open to the possibility of something more than sex). After a lot of the same old stuff (“I’m not looking for anything serious, blah blah…) he admitted it was just sex, but he didn’t see anything wrong with us “getting along fine”. He also said that I could do whatever I wanted, and that I didn’t had to hang out anymore if I didn’t wanted to. I still hooked up with him that night (a moment of weakness, haha) but when I tried to leave at midnight he was all: “how can you leave now? blah blah” I left, and the next day I recovered some of my brains and send him a text telling him it was over (I heard in my mind the words “intimacy light” all day long, haha). I’m kind of sad, he was a really great guy, but I felt dissapointed with his reaction to what I said. I’m being a really brave girl. I even went ahead and got a makeover and I feel really hot an optimistic, haha. I would love to read what you think about my story. PS: sorry if my grammar is kind of funny, I’m not a native English speaker and I don’t live in the US (a foreign fan, hahaha)

    • susanawalsh

      Morning glory, I am really happy to meet you! Thanks for coming by and introducing yourself. First let me say that your English is excellent, complete with idioms! It’s better than many Americans’, which I’m afraid may say something about our schools. :-/

      I read your story, and I can’t help but think WHY? WHY? WHY? What is his problem? You enjoy spending time together, have good sex. What is he holding out for? I am sooooo glad that you ended it. He is not to blame for the three months, since he never lied, but it’s a really good thing that you finally know what he is thinking.

      I am proud of you for taking charge of it, being strong and independent. You know that you deserve someone who will give you what you want. I’m sure that he respects you for taking a stand. His loss. FIDO!

      Good for you also for getting the makeover. Feeling hot and optimistic is about as good as it gets as you head into a new weekend!

      Morning glory, please stop by again and let me know how it’s going!

      • Morning_glory

        My story took an unexpected turn. I’ll try to keep it short.Today at 12AM he texted me wanting to know why I ended things last Wednesday. We ended talking on the phone for 2 hours, about silly stuff, but also he asked me what had happened and told him plainly that I had realized that he meant more to me than just sex. He said that he wanted to see me and he also said: “Nobody will give a Nobel for saying this, but I really like talking to you”. As for the “getting together” part, at first he meant going to his place, then he changed it to “what do you want to do?”. Anyway, I’m really busy this week, so I told him that I’d see him Friday. And before hanging up he said like 10 times: “see you Friday, then”. So there I was, in my bed, at 3AM, realizing I don’t have any idea about what’s going on in that boy’s head (or in any male brain, in general haha). I do want to see him. And I’m sure that he’s not the kind of guy who would take adventage of my feelings just to get laid. But now I’m really confused!

        • susanawalsh

          Yay, I was hoping that would happen. It’s too early to say how things will turn out, but it is clear that once you exited his life, he realized he wants you to be a part of it. The question is, What is he willing to give? Last week he said it was just sex, this week he focuses on enjoying your company. That’s a good start. You didn’t ask for my advice here, but I’m gonna give it to you anyway, Morning glory. DO NOT HAVE SEX WITH HIM ON FRIDAY! You got that? DO NOT. Your credibility is riding on it. Hold out for something meaningful, or become platonic friends if you want to, but I think you will be a very unhappy girl if you have sex with him and nothing changes. Ggaaaahhhh, please let me know what happens!

        • Morning_glory

          I was hoping to get some advice, I kinda forgot to ask (end of semester, very little sleeping hours, haha). Well… I guess I can try… I mean… I will wait! How hard can it be? (very hard… but I’ll keep focused on my true goal) Thanks a lot! I’ll keep you posted!

        • susanawalsh

          I forgot to mention earlier that it is AWESOME and amazing that you told him plainly how you feel about him! That is so brave and so strong, and it didn’t freak him out. It’s a perfect example of what I was advocating in my post Say What You Need to Say. It’s so much better than mixed-up communication and guessing games. Excellent!

        • Morning_glory

          Well, I took I some inspiration from that post. I’ve been straightforward before, but never with so much confidence as now. And it really does feel kinda like jumping off a cliff 🙂

        • susanawalsh

          But you already jumped and you’re still here to tell the tale! And he called! No matter which way it goes, I am so convinced that you did the right thing by telling him how you felt. You will be able to look back on this and feel really good about taking that risk and being honest with him, I’m sure of it.

  • Emma

    So you said it is important to verbalize your feelings and questions for the relationship but when is it an appropriate time to do so? Because i do think if you bring it up too early any sane guy might freak out a little bit. If you were to bring it up at the right time then the guy would be kind of an asshole for not respecting your feelings. But what is that right time do you think?

    • @Emma
      There’s no perfect answer, but my general advice is No Sex Before Monogamy. So you need to have the talk before going all the way. There’s just too much at risk for women who have sex, get attached to a guy, then find out he’s not on the same page – something that happens frequently, unfortunately.

  • Emma

    yes that is my general rule too…especially since i’m a virgin. I think first time sex with someone i’m not serious with wouldn’t be a good experience. I am 20 though so i’m hoping that serious relationship comes soon. It doesn’t really help that people keep pushing me to have sex because i am getting old or something. Its interesting though in the past girls were pressured to stay virgins until marriage but now girls are getting bombarded with a lot of mixed messages. One side is saying that girls should be able to sleep around like men and that they should be very sexual and the other side is telling girls to stay innocent. Its almost like if we aren’t sexual we are prudes but if we are sexual we are sluts.

    • @Emma

      It doesn’t really help that people keep pushing me to have sex because i am getting old or something. Its interesting though in the past girls were pressured to stay virgins until marriage but now girls are getting bombarded with a lot of mixed messages.

      Do not be swayed by pressure from anyone. Women who are promiscuous have every reason to feel threatened by women with less sexual experience because men prefer them for long-term mating, i.e. marriage. It’s in their best interest to get all women to act slutty, and the culture promotes this.

      You are wise to want to wait for a serious relationship. Many 20 yo women feel exactly the way that you do, and serious relationships are not necessarily easy to come by. This will get better as you get older. In the meantime, stick to your own values. I promise you will not regret it.

  • I have been floating around exploring your blog for a couple hours now, and this is my favorite topic so far. What a subject to tackle… It’s baffling!

    Part of me wonders if these things aren’t happening in the SMP because women are allowing it to happen, and participating. That whole “we teach people how to treat us” thing.

    I’ve been going through a similar situation, so apparently it doesn’t get better even though we are all grown ups in our mid 30s. My best girlfriend told me “you need to make some serious boundaries with this guy..” And I thought… How do I do that? What does that mean?

    I think your line “Keep your distance, protect your heart” is the perfect description.

  • Lee

    Hi Susan,

    I have been talking to this guy for about three months now, and he has been dropping hints about asking to be “official”. He’s a great person, charming, intelligent, and sweet, BUT I do not want to date him. It’s kind of funny that the roles are switched when relating to your post. I don’t know how to break it to him, without banishing our current friendship. He’s been trying to have “the talk” with me, and needless to say Valentines day is around the corner too. ( Btw, we haven’t hooked up, and I don’t plan on it without being in a relationship.) So I was wondering if men take it the same way as women if I directed to him, “I’m really attracted to you. I have a great time with you. You’re awesome, you’re the coolest GUY I know. Your friendship means a lot to me. I don’t want to date you?”

    xxo

    • @Lee

      Well, it sounds like you are not attracted to him. You haven’t hooked up at all, not even kissed? I think it’s surprising he wants to have the talk when there’s no physical connection. If you were really attracted to him, why wouldn’t you want to date him?

  • Jon

    Hey Lee,

    I have to jump in here. You’re situation reminds me of how I met my ex-wife.

    We were going out as friends for about four months before I initiated “the talk.” The only physical contact up to that point were casual hugs. We dated for two years and were married for six before she gave me that speech.

    To answer your question, yes, guys take it the same way. It sucks to hear it from girls you like – it’s even worse to hear from your wife.

    So please do the guy a favor and totally crush him. Don’t try to let him down easy. It may seem harsh, but he needs to learn that “friends first” is a terrible dating strategy, and the sooner he abandons it the better off everyone will be.

  • Lee

    @ Susan
    We kiss, hold hands in public, text everyday, and it is true that I am attracted to him. We spend time with each other and go out on dates, but I sincerely have no interest in having a “title”. We actually spent Vday together, but the words”dating”, “realationship”, and “official” never made it to the table. He stopped trying to initiate the talk, so I guess the ball is in my court. In all honestly I like how things are at the moment, no commitment, just because there are days or weeks I would want to be apart from him. I just hope my actions don’t end up hurting him, because that is the last thing I would want to happen.

    @Jon

    Thank you for your input. It is unfortunate that your ex-wife decided to give “the talk” after settling down. My theory is, some women will never be fully aware of what they want, and some are never really satisfied regardless of a good husband/home.

    The guy I’m talking to is the same deal. I like him a lot, but I’m just not satisfied enough with myself/current situations to fully commit. I would rather be content/happy than in a realationship with doubts/guilt.

  • Jon

    Oops…it looks like I forgot to put on my decoder ring when I read your previous post. I didn’t realize that when you said “friends” and “talking” you meant “dating” and “kissing.” 😉

    I’d like to change my original answer based on this new understanding. Don’t crush him, just keep going for as long as you can and try to avoid the DTR discussion.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you guys are dating. It might not be official or exclusive, and you might not have the title “girlfriend,” but you’re definitely not just “friends.” You can spin it as casual dating or friends with benefits (“benefits” doesn’t have to mean sex necessarily).

    The reason I suggest avoiding the conversation is that you seem to be redefining words in your mind to mean what you want them to mean rather than what everyone else thinks they mean. So if you say you don’t want to date him but you want to be friends, he’s going to understand it as the end of hand holding and kissing.

    This kind of thing has messed me up before and probably will again. I’m taking to a girl and I think she’s speaking English, but really she switched into code and it turns out later that I had no idea what I agreed to.

  • I couldn’t have said it better myself, although I tried. My experience landed me in unending questions of “why” …. if we have a tremendous friendship and phenomenal chemistry then what’s wrong? What could possibly be missing? Turns out that there was too much missing. Our brains get foggy when we are in love, even unreciprocated love. http://proportionsinlife.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/good-news/
    Thanks for your super-enlightening blog.
    Life is good.