Enjoy a good hookup now and then, but feel like a drag afterward? Hooking up takes skill, and not in the way you’re thinking, say clinical psychologist Joanne Davila, PhD, and relationship expert Kaycee Lashman, authors of The Thinking Girl's Guide to the Right Guy: How Knowing Yourself Can Help You Navigate Dating, Hookups, and Love.
“While research shows that hookups don’t have a negative impact on most people, for some, they can be stressful, unsatisfying, or confusing,” says Dr. Davila. “These are just some of the concerns we've heard from real girls, and these issues can lead to uncertainty and disappointment,” Lashman adds.
If you’re interested in hooking up, there are three skills you need to use to increase the likelihood that you’ll have the experience you want, without regrets or emotional ramifications.
1. Know what you want
It’s the first thing you need to do in order to have a healthy hookup.
Ask yourself these questions: What do I want sexually? What am I willing to do and not do? What are my limits? Know the answers so that when the time comes you will be prepared and you can communicate effectively about what you want and don’t want. It’s also important to have insight about what you’re looking to get out of a hookup. Is it just about the sex? Are you fine with it being just a one-time thing? Are you actually hoping it will turn into a relationship? Know your expectations and hopes so you can determine how you’ll react to whatever happens.
2. Make it good for BOTH of you
People often go into a hookup with the goal of getting sexual pleasure for themselves and judge the success of the hookup by whether it was pleasurable for them. But there are two people involved who both want sexual pleasure and both deserve to get it, so communicate your needs. Now if you’re in it just for your own pleasure and not really interested in really pleasing someone else, opt to stay home with your porn and/or your vibrator! On the flip side, if you judge the success of a hookup solely by whether you pleased your partner – and completely disregarding your own pleasure – that can be just as detrimental. Maybe you’re afraid of being yourself, what the other person might think of you or you’re trying to get the other person to like you. Understanding your real motives and knowing if the other person is capable of fulfilling them is an important part of a healthy hookup.
3. Keep your emotions in check
You’ve been there before post-hookup, you start to feel those warm twinges of love and see images of a beautiful life together (thank you Oxytocin!) Now you’re getting anxious about when, if ever, you’ll get another text or call. Remember, there’s a reason it’s called a hookup – it’s not a relationship. And it was not intended to be from the beginning. The best thing you can do for yourself is to assume exactly what it will be: a fun encounter between two consenting individuals that is not meant to happen again or to turn into anything else. Remind your developing feelings of love that they are better placed elsewhere, when the right relationship comes along.
If you are on the receiving end of someone wanting a hookup to go further than you want it to go, be clear and direct with the person about where you are and what they can expect, both up front and afterwards. And be kind in all of your communications. You just shared nakedness and bodily fluids. It’s an intimate exchange no matter how you look at it. And the people involved deserve to be respected.
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