It’s something of a cliche that getting what you want doesn’t always make you happier. That’s never more true than when it comes to sex. For many people, living the sort of swinging lifestyle modeled by Hugh Hefner seems like the ideal.
After all, who wouldn’t love a life of hot-and-cold running sex with a rotating series of partners? What kind of red-blooded person wouldn’t want to have more hook-ups without worrying about things like “commitment” and “relationships”?
As it turns out: a lot of people. In fact, a recent story on NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast – and many of my own readers – talk about just how miserable hook-ups can be. After all, you’re supposed to be “chill” about it all, lest you give the impression that you’re not cool with your situation. Developing feelings for someone is seen as a continual risk and keeping someone at arm’s length can get exhausting. It can seem like a continual balancing act of keeping just enough distance to discourage the relationship frame while also having to put in the effort to keep the sex coming.
The problem with hook ups is how often people seem to be stuck following the “unwritten” rules – rules that, frankly, make no sense. The fear of “a relationship” runs rampant among them. But hook ups – whether it’s a one-night stand, a friends-with-benefits situation or a no-strings-attached arrangement – are relationships. And like any relationship, there’s a right way and a wrong way to make them work.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. Hook ups and casual relationships can be amazing experiences for everyone involved… as long as you follow some simple rules. And the first rule of making a casual relationship work is: