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Sex and Dating: Avoiding awkward hookups

Dr. Desiree, Sex Therapist

Issue date: 10/17/08 Section: Focus
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College is the ultimate breeding ground for random hookups. Waiting in line for your stir-fry at Leutner can become very awkward when you see the person you hooked up with last night standing in line in front of you…what was their name again? Those situations can be handled, but what happens when the hook-up is a friend, or an ex?

These situations are more difficult to figure out. If you don't know someone and have a one-night stand, chances are you won't fall in love. However, what about the aftermath of hooking up with someone you know, and presumably already think is pretty cool? Is it possible to have sex and not develop feelings for the other person?

All bets are off when you hook up with someone you are already friends with. This could be good, as in you can sleep over and eat eggs together in the morning while gossiping about Sarah Palin. It could also be bad if you maybe discover a dark and kinky secret you'd rather forget about. What about an ex? Often, due to the novelty of secret meetings and forbidden love, things are even hotter than usual. On the downside though, you could get yourself involved in an emotionally sticky situation, being set up to get hurt a second time around, as if once wasn't enough.

To be honest, I have tried to do it, but being pretty emotional, I find it hard to compartmentalize my feelings, especially if the hookup is great. For many, it is not a conscious thought, but rather gets materialized in telling behavior. Jealousy of other girls or boys who show interest in your hookup, overanalyzing every friendly conversation as foreplay and finding pretty sheer excuses to send them a text are all signs.

A friend once told me the rule of thumb is after three rendezvous, it's time to decide where the relationship stands. Hookup purgatory can only go on for so long before it's time to continue being friends with plenty of good stories for "truth or dare," or taking the plunge into a relationship. I myself have a few rules that I try to observe, unless unforeseen snags get in the way.

Making out is pretty harmless, but having sex without knowing how you'll feel about it after is not always a wise choice. There is also a stigma of being that guy or girl who asks, "Where is this going?" after one night. I agree that this question may only be asked using proper judgment, but it shouldn't be avoided like the plague. Just because someone asks, it doesn't necessarily mean they automatically want to be in a relationship. It is just an attempt at clarification of the unavoidable emotional confusion.

Of course, you may discover how much cooler your friend really is if the two of you can ignore any morning-after awkwardness and be mature about the situation. Who knows, you might actually discover some feelings for that person. You never know what awesome chances are up ahead, so don't be too afraid of hookups. Just be thoughtful, intelligent, and grounded about them.
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