When does a casual hookup turn into dating? When does it not?
August 13, 2013 6:30 PM   Subscribe

I have been seeing this guy since December about once or twice a month, and am possibly on the verge of having feelings. Trying to figure out how to reasonably navigate this. Tell me about your experiences?

I met John in December, and since then we have had a casual hooking-up based thing going on, the extent of which is one of us texting the other, getting a few drinks, going back to one of our houses to have sex, and then hanging out and talking. Recently the hanging out and talking portion of that has involved a lot more touching and cuddling and just general physical intimacy.

I am feeling generally infatuated with him lately. Especially in the 2-3 days right after seeing him. This is a new thing! I have not developed feelings for men that I have previously casually hooked up with, (however I have also never regularly hooked up with someone for the course of 6+ months without it being dating). Is this just a byproduct of sex? Am I obligated to talk about feelings now with him? I am not sure that we would be a good dating fit, and I am hesitant to bring up feelings when I am unsure of my own and also really just want to continue having amazing, uncomplicated sex. Possibly relevant: We were not friends nor did we know each other before we started seeing each other. We have never spoken about feelings, past relationships, or future plans. We are in our mid/late-20s and live in a major city.

I am curious to hear experiences from others on metafilter about having ongoing casual hooking-up based relationships. How do they end? Has this ended for you in just phasing the person out and starting to see someone else or did you date the person? Other tips/best practices?
posted by anonymoosemoosemoose to Human Relations (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I realized I was developing feelings for mine after about 4 months. We had the same kind of hooking up - cuddling, physical intimacy, even some emotional intimacy, and we got along really well. But he just wasn't looking for a relationship.
I kind of already knew I had to cut it off, but I talked to him about it first. I told him I was getting attached and I knew that could potentially be a problem. He agreed. He wanted to stay in contact, I said no, because I knew that it would only intensify my feelings. We said good bye, it was sad. We went a few months no contact. Then, when I felt ok about it, I texted him. We started hooking up again, but he checked in with me first to make sure I was ok with it. I told him I knew I could handle it, and that I knew I could get out of it if I needed to again. We continued hooking up until he moved away a few weeks ago. It was a great amicable good bye.
You need to look out for yourself. I know it sounds great to continue to have awesome sex with this person you've really started to care about, but unless he's on the same page, danger that way lies. I would talk to him about it. Soonish.
posted by dithmer at 6:47 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

For almost five years, I had an on/off, reliable, casual hookup partner. We would generally see each other in groups or randomly text one another. We never went out (just the two of us) for drinks, nor was there ever much cuddling or talking.

Both of us came to realize that we, essentially, were each other's casual hookup unicorn. We joked about it, and I have nothing but happy memories from our times together. My advice to you is to decide for yourself whether you want to give dating this person a shot; if you don't, then scale back on the cuddling/going out/talking, and keep it solely on the amazing, uncomplicated sex level.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 7:03 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sex is rarely uncomplicated.

What happens after the two to three days of infatuation after seeing him? Do you still like who he is and respect him when you aren't feeling sexual desire for him?

If so, maybe you should have an honest conversation with him getting at the fact that you like being around him and you might want a relationship, and if not, maybe you should have sex with someone who you will still continue to like apart from the sexual context.
posted by mermily at 7:20 PM on August 13, 2013

i'm usually the one who falls for the casual hookup, so i tend to be on guard against those types of feelings - sometimes i am FLOATING the next day after sex, but quickly try to shake myself back to the reality of the situation. the reality being this - they probably just think it's casual, haven't thought about it nearly as much as me and aren't getting wrapped up the way my imagination tends to lead me. physical intimacy is confusing that way.

if you are a patient person who doesn't mind the potential build up and pain to come, then i would wait it out and not say anything. enjoy the moments you get together and try not to pressure it into being anything it isn't ready to be. maybe it could become something down the road as you get to know each other? (i've not had this happen personally.)

i myself am impatient and don't like drawn out pain so after a while i would gather up my courage and point blank just ask "hey i kinda like what we're doing here, what if we were really dating?" if the answer was yes, that would be great. if the answer was no... well that would suck and probably end it but it takes care of it quickly so there's no pussyfooting around the issue.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 8:35 PM on August 13, 2013

the extent of which is one of us texting the other, getting a few drinks, going back to one of our houses to have sex, and then hanging out and talking.

to me, this sounds like dating.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:47 PM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

What's missing from your question is whether you WANT to be dating someone. Your question is therefore posed in a passive way ("such and such is happening to me - what should I make of it?"). Why don't you instead just first figure out if you want to be dating or not, and if so, then ask yourself whether this is the right guy for dating? You're trying to figure out how to navigate (your words) something that is happening to you instead of by you. No wonder you are confused.
posted by Dansaman at 10:57 PM on August 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Dansaman's got it. You need to figure out if you want to try officially dating. And then talk to him.

Or if you really can't decide, talk to him anyway.
posted by Specklet at 1:47 AM on August 14, 2013

My boyfriend and I started off as casual hookup partners three years ago (with the intention of having solely a one-night stand), and are now living together and committed life partners.

Looking back on it, we developed an emotional connection really quickly - it didn't take long for us to start sharing stories about our lives and families and support each other through our divorces - but it was also sometimes a really awkward transition from hooking up to dating to a full relationship. We were almost always on the same page regarding how we felt about each other and how we treated each other, but it took us a while to get aligned in actually acknowledging that we had a relationship and what the parameters were (I wrote about some of that here.)

It sounds like you're less sure of how you feel about him as a possible dating partner, so I would just observe how you're feeling about him when you're not having sex. Do you enjoy talking to each other? Do you respect him and find him interesting? Are you connecting on a non-sexual basis?

Also, have you had any social interactions outside of the bedroom/leading to the bedroom? I'd been hooking up with my boyfriend for two months before we ever went on a real date, and when we met that night, it was so surreal to be hanging out in public, with clothes on, going to dinner and riding the subway like anyone else. It gave us the chance to look at each other in a different light. Solely hooking up can be such a laser-focus experience that it was really useful to put ourselves in a completely different environment and see how that felt.

(I could write a lot more, but unfortunately work intervenes - but I have written other stuff about how our relationship changed on MeFi if you want to check my history, and absolutely feel free to MeMail me. Good luck!)
posted by Neely O'Hara at 9:35 AM on August 14, 2013

I'm going through the same thing (except its been only a month and a half of hooking up) and wrote a book about it here. Maybe some of the advice there can help you.

"I am not sure that we would be a good dating fit"
Well, why not? Is it because he's emotionally distant? Thats whats holding me back in my situation.
posted by hellameangirl at 10:54 AM on August 14, 2013

Final update from the OP:
Update: John and I kept regularly casually hooking up for another 11 months after I posted this, with feelings that ebbed and flowed (on my part. I have no idea how he felt during this time). Then I started feeling like I wanted to date somebody and that that somebody was him -- I resolved to ask him if he felt the same way. In an odd turn of events, he ended up asking me if I wanted to date the same morning that I planned to ask him.

We kind of dated for one month, but it became clear after the first week that it wasn't going to work out. This was largely because of lifestyle issues (work schedules not lining up) as well as his lack of apparent interest in the process of dating (communicating, making plans, etc). He told me after a date one evening that he didn't think it would work out, and I told him that I accepted that but I did not want to go back to hooking up. We have not spoken since.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:12 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

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