Friends with benefits. Just a hook up. It all sounds pretty harmless. And it is, right?
While magazines, your friends, and guys might tell you that random hook-ups are just a little bit of summer lovin’, physical affection without a committed relationship can actually be pretty problematic. There are basically two main reasons that casual intimacy is tricky: you, and your partner.
You. In any relationship, it’s important to know that you’re respected. How is respect shown? Through tone of voice, kind treatment, equal consideration and many other ways. Allowing someone to use you for physical pleasure with no relational component is telling them it’s Okay to not respect you. Even if the relationship moves forward and becomes “something more”, you’ve already communicated that you are okay with being used.
Secondly, consider your heart. As much fun as it might be in the moment to fool around, is your heart getting involved? In a week or a month, will you wish you had acted differently? Like it or not, our hearts get easily entangled in our actions. Physical intimacy stimulates our brains to become relationally attached to the person; setting us up for heartache if no relationship develops.
Besides respecting yourself and guarding your own heart, think about your partner. Remember when you were a kid and your parents used to tell you to “treat others as you would like to be treated?” If hooking up is hazardous for your emotions, it must be for your partner as well! While they might pretend to be disinterested or keeping it casual, you never know if they’re secretly hoping a relationship will develop.
Without being a downer, it’s important to mention that engaging in physical intimacy is also an act of vulnerability. If you don’t know your partner’s sexual history, you are making yourself vulnerable to any STI’s they might have come in contact with. Let’s be honest: there is nothing casual or fun about telling your parents you have an STI!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against kissing. In fact, I’m very much pro-making out. In the right context. Like it or not, when we’re physically intimate with people, we open our hearts and bodies up to them. And if it’s a one night stand or a random hook up, that’s a big risk. Your kisses are something to be treasured and given to somebody who will commit to you and cherish you. And in that context, you won’t need a silly quiz to tell you if they like you; you’ll know.