Out of all my relationship faux-pas, falling too quickly remains my biggest downfall. When a guy sticks around to unlock my barriers, I admire them as though they’ve managed to part the sea or awake back to life. One actually did, rising from a coma. Not catching feelings is a difficult task… to not catch feelings for a hookup seems impossible for some.
Surely, they’re ways we can protect ourselves?
Why you get attached to someone you’ve slept with
She Knows published an article on how our brains react after sex. The piece explains how oxytocin (known as the cuddle and love hormone) is linked to “bonding and trust” and gets released during intercourse, according to psychologist and social worker Dr. Sal Raichbach.
The article reveals how the hormone helps to connect people together, but does note that not everyone having sex will experience the chemical’s affections.
Psychology Today clarifies the difference between oxytocin in genders. Oxytocin after an orgasm creates a short period of trust. While most men (similar to the animal kingdom) can enjoy a hit of feel-good pleasure and then “go back to being themselves”, women may “mistake the oxytocin release for feelings”. Perhaps that’s why some guys pull away after sleeping with someone.
When I was in school, my first sex education involved a video showing an animated man and woman lying in bed together, suddenly smiling with a red heart in the middle, indicating they had made love. We’re usually raised to view sex as an intimate act between two people. It’s something sacred and special.
My piece on dealing with regret after sex, describes how guilt can appear when sleeping with someone you don’t love – a person who doesn’t feel important. Because of views in culture, some can harbour post-sex shame.
If you believe sex is always intimate (what’s more intimate than someone inside of you?), maybe you might look for a connection. You might perceive their naked vulnerability as an openness and warmth towards you. Particularly if you’ve always made love and never had random sexual encounters.
Is having friends with benefits good or bad?
If chemicals are released during sex that help you bond with someone, isn’t it easier to catch feelings in an FWB situation, rather than catch feelings for a hookup?
How do you commit to no strings when you’re already tied emotionally? The one thing keeping two people as friends and not lovers: sex. I think FWB is better when the friendship almost borders on acquaintance.
There are so many potential problems. What happens if you sleep with a best friend who begins to fancy you? Or a friend who secretly fancies you already, and hopes sleeping together will lead to a relationship? Can a friendship ever go back to normal?
As Glamour advocates, it’s best to communicate prior to sex, acknowledging how the “benefits” will end. The good thing about hooking up with a friend, is comfort in addressing the uncomfortable. It’s probably strange to go on Tinder and ask a stranger how long they intend to enjoy your body. But with friends, you can ask about exclusivity and if they’re planning on staying single. (Not that anyone can really guarantee their singledom).
How to not catch feelings for a hookup: Set boundaries
How do you define a hookup? If you set yourself clear boundaries on what you will and won’t allow, you can better separate romance and intercourse. I know for me, if I was sleeping with a person casually, I’d probably decline going out for dinner and sharing too much personal info. Not to say that a hookup has to be this cold, uninvolved affair.
Some can enjoy casual sex and still care deeply about a person non-romantically. You just have to be open with yourself on what works for you.
Don’t hold expectations
Expectation should only focus on sex: orgasms, pleasure and safe fun. Sex will not reveal whether a person likes you, neither will it form affection. A hookup is not a boyfriend/girlfriend – don’t expect them to care for you outside of the bedroom.
Separate other emotions
Ideally, a hookup forms to release horniness. It’s about liberating those urges. Sometimes, when feeling down (experiencing a breakup, job loss, grief), a person can seek sex for an instant high. That can be effective in the short-term, though it can also draw you closer to the person physically helping you.
Let’s say you’re currently feeling sad, maybe insecure. You sleep with someone who makes you feel incredible – they compliment your looks and touch you as if you’re statuesque art. Each time you’re upset, they come (literally) to your rescue. That person can easily get confused as a saviour, or someone who makes you happy.
Avoid the intimate stuff
Gazing into each other’s eyes, slowly kissing on the lips, cuddling together after… those love making moments. I believe you can actually create more passion with a stranger than with a partner. You can ferociously pin them against the wall and make them your slave (if that’s what you’re both into). And yes, couples can do this, but I find when you love someone, you can’t help to interlock fingers or throw out a gushy comment.
Separate your lives
You don’t need to know what you’re fling is doing next Saturday. You don’t need to get brunch together, or hang out in the same circles. The more we’re with someone, the more we talk about ourselves and discover similarities. It’s a no-brainer: the closest people tend to be the ones we spend most of our time with.
If you become comfortable with a person being around and acting as confidante, friend and lover, you have a lot to lose when you stop meeting.
Know when it’s time to quit
Hookups aren’t meant to last forever. If you feel your hookup has caught feelings that you don’t share, or if it’s the opposite and you have feelings, the kindest thing can be to say goodbye.
Learning how to not catch feelings for a hookup seems an empty promise. There is no guarantee – no one can predict what will happen when you undress and touch another naked body. It’s not uncommon to initially not feel attraction, only to then pick up feelings during time alone together.
With that said, going in with honest communication, discussing requirements and expectations, and separating your day-to-day, can help in avoiding hurt and dissatisfaction.
Do you have any other tips on how to not catch feelings for a hookup? To compliment this post, read: Does the number of people you’ve slept with matter?