A few years ago, I decided it was finally time that I found myself a good old fashioned hookup partner. I was burnt out from a three-month tempestuous love (sex) affair with a blue-eyed highly strung graphic artist who lived across town. It was one of those “harmless” little flings that aren’t supposed to hurt but leaves your heart sliced open and your self-esteem a bloodied mess.
“I need to be single. For awhile, ” I told my best friend Ruba over the phone. I was walking to work, crossing Fifth Avenue. It was August in New York and the humidity was so thick Manhattan felt like a steam room.
“You’re too vulnerable for a hookup buddy. You’ll catch feelings,” Ruba warned.
I lightly tripped on a crack in the pavement. I stumbled down the block for several seconds before I found my footing. “I can fully commit to not dating anyone, but I can’t commit to not having sex. It’s not realistic. I just moved back to New York. It’s summer. I’m a wild animal, Ruba.” (Do your hormones rage in the summer? Or is it just me?)
I could hear Ruba suck back a cigarette through the phone. I imagined her drinking a glass of wine on her London front stoop, her skinny shoulders wrapped up in an oatmeal colored trench coat. Guiltlessly smoking and drinking to her wild heart’s content, because that’s what you get to do in London.
“Good luck, babe.” She exhaled. I pictured her smashing the cigarette butt with her shiny black rain boot. “I have to go.”
I thought about things as I walked downtown in the stifling city heat. I was not in a place to enter a relationship. I knew that. I know people like to say “You can’t control the timing of love,” and while that’s semi-true, I firmly believe that there are certain moments in our lives when we’re meant to be single. Especially when we lost our sense of identity and self-worth in our last relationship and are currently roaming the earth as vacant shells of ourselves. It up to us, and only us, to find our sense of self again.
But does that mean that you should neglect your sexual desires? Especially when it’s a hot, hot summer and your entire body is buzzing with sexual hunger pangs?
Maybe some people will tell you to stuff down the lust beast, to masturbate the urge away, but I’m not that person. And I’m living proof that you can find a woman to physically intertwine with, with zero emotional strings attached. Even when you’re complicated. And intense. Like me.
I’m a big feeler. If I connect with someone physically I always assumed there was a dramatic, emotional connection too. I would dive into her flesh recklessly. For years I didn’t think it was possible for me to find someone to hook up with, without it turning into a wild, fiery emotional drama that resulted in crushed feelings and gaping holes of acute vulnerability.
But as I healed, I learned to break the self-destructive pattern of getting into toxic affairs with every girl I locked lips with on the dance floor. I mastered the art of what my shrink calls “healthy detachment.”
When searching for the hookup partner of my dreams, I realized that I needed to implement some rules. Now listen, no one hates rules more than me. I can’t handle rules, I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth because I loathed being told what to do.
But these aren’t oppressive, mundane boring rules put in place to dull down your sharp edges, babes. These are rules that will help you find the proper hookup partner without getting your heart smashed!
And my rules are specifically designed for us ~intense~ entities. Us women who tend to get ourselves into complicated situation after complicated situation because boundaries don’t come naturally to us. Sound familiar?
So here it is: Zara’s official etiquette guide for finding a simple hookup buddy (when you’re a complex creature like her).
Be totally upfront about what you’re looking for.
The cruelest thing you can do when searching for a hookup partner is this: Go on a date with a girl. Charm her leather pants off. Engage in a passionate post dinner street-side make-out session and then break the news. In between sexy little kisses, with heavy breath, pause, look her in the eye and say, “Just so you know. I’m not looking for anything serious.”
This kind of insensitive performance will make the person you’re kissing feel infuriated, hurt and insecure at once. This happened to me just over a year ago.
“Who the hell said I wanted anything with you?” I defensively spat back at my presumptuous date as I slithered out of her arms. Even though I pulled away from her and coolly got into a taxi like I DIDN’T CARE, I totally cared! My feelings were crushed and my ego was bruised. Plus, I was thrown. I was in a place in my life where I was looking for something deeper.
So don’t do it. You must be upfront, so the girl knows before the first date, that you’re looking for a consistent sex partner, not a girlfriend. If you’re seeking out a girl on Tinder, put your wants and needs right in your profile. When I was looking for someone to hookup with the first girl I messaged on Tinder had “Looking for a casual sexual relationship” typed into her profile. Some of my friends thought it was bold and brash, but I thought it was awesome. After all wasn’t that was I looking for too?
And at least when we met up a few days later at my favorite lesbian bar (Cubby), we both knew what the other wanted. We had a few drinks and chatted, but we had managed our expectations about what our meet-up really meant (it meant sex).
Hearts get broken because people are too afraid, to be honest with each other. You think you’re protecting her feelings by withholding the fact that you’re just looking for a sexual connection, but you’re not, girl. If you reveal this information after the third date, she’s going to think you’re saying you’re not “looking for anything serious” because she’s not good enough. And that’s not the case. Your not wanting a relationship has nothing to do with her and everything to do with you, right?
Don’t bring them into your world, it’s not fair to anyone.
In my 15-year dating stint, I’ve had ONE woman who brought me into her world, even though she wanted nothing more than to have sex with me. She was older than me (go figure) and told me right away that she was still getting over her ex-wife (go figure) and that she just wanted to have “fun.” I was totally down to have “fun” because I was young and majorly attracted to her and pretty much figured that I could manipulate her into liking me by charming her and wooing her with my maturity.
Want to know why I was really convinced I could lock this lady down? She brought me everywhere. Her best friend’s intimate birthday dinner. Family drinks. Parties. Gatherings. Vegan potlucks. I began to grow close with the people in her life.
You’re not to do this with a hookup partner! It’s extremely intimate to bring someone you’re already doing an intimate thing with (SEX) into your private underworld. The lines get blurred. Your friends and family get attached to her. She get’s attached to them. And everyone’s heart is broken when it ends (and all hookup-orientated relationships have an inevitable end point).
Feel the lust, but remember, it’s just LUST.
Are you having an amazing sexual experience with your hookup partner? Are floods of oxytocin (the love hormone that makes you want to cuddle) oozing through your body, post-orgasm? Are you thinking “Holy hell, I’m catching feelings? I mean how can it NOT BE LOVE when it feels so good?”
Are you me?
Oh, honey. It’s been so, so, so hard for me to separate sex and love in my little life. I’m telling you, I’m animalistic about sex! If I’m physically attracted to you, I’ll project all kinds of fantasies on to you. You don’t even have to twist your lips around a coherent sentence. I’ll create a dialogue for us in my mind. And believe it’s real. And then six months later, after I’ve fallen hard, I’ll wake up one morning and go “Oh. I don’t think we have that powerful of a connection. It was just LUST. My bad.”
Never underestimate the power of lust. But repeat after me: lust does not mean love. Lust does not mean love. Lust does not mean love. LUST DOES NOT MEAN LOVE.
Have connected, powerful, magnetic sex but leave that ~fiery passion~ in the safety of the bedroom. After all, sex can be connected and disconnected at once. It can be connected when your bodies are passionately folded into each other, and then you can emotionally disconnect yourself afterward. Love takes time to cultivate. It takes trust, time spent together, hardships endured to really cultivate a love connection. Lust happens in an instant.
Be super kind and respectful.
Just because you’re “just hooking up” doesn’t mean you get to act like an asshole. The person you’re hooking up with is not a sex object, she’s a living, breathing human being.
It’s vitally important that we treat anyone we’re sleeping with like gold. A person is being wildly vulnerable when they surrender their sexuality to you. When a person is trusting you with their vulnerability you must always be kind. Ask her how her day was. Offer her a drink. Pay for the damn cab home.
If you catch feelings, don’t resist.
Sometimes we do find love in a one-night stand. Sometimes love happens when we least expect it.
So if it’s been about three months and you don’t want to stop hooking up with your hookup buddy, because HOLY SHIT you just want to be around her amazing, intoxicating energy, and breathe in her primal scent, and talk to her for hours and hours and hours about your hopes and dreams for the future; don’t resist.
It’s rare to connect deeply with anyone in this cruel, cold world. And if even if the timing isn’t perfect, and you’re not quite done working on yourself, don’t ever push away love. You don’t have to dive into a relationship with her if you’re not ready. You can still take it slow. But if you’re feelings feelings that are honest and pure, it’s a sin to pretend they don’t exist. And stuffing those feelings down, never, ever works. In fact, it often leads us to into a nervous breakdown, and nervous breakdowns (while sometimes necessary) aren’t the ultimate goal right now.