Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 3.20.27 PMWhen I broke up with my ex about a month ago, I was determined to rebound as quickly as possible. No wallowing this time; it was over and I was moving on.

It was almost too convenient that I was presented with an immediate distraction. Jack was someone I’d known for years; we were never super close, but he’s part of a circle of friends I’ve known since high school. I’d lusted after him for years, too. About four years ago, I even asked my boyfriend at the time permission to make out with Jack, just to “get it out of my system.” My boyfriend said “no,” alas, and so the pining continued. The timing had just never been right.

Until now.

I was single and Jack had broken up with his girlfriend a few months back. We flirted online for a few days before we met up while out with mutual friends on a Friday night. We made out in the bar like drunk 20-year-olds who’d been fantasizing about making out with each other for years.

He contacted me again two days later. We went to his place, watched TV and drank beers before going to bed. We got along, respected one another, and had pretty amazing chemistry but agreed that we were looking for different things in a relationship and wouldn’t be compatible in that way. So we decided to be “fuck buddies.”

“It’s the ideal situation,” Jack said over dinner the next Friday night. “You’re my buddy and I like fucking you.”

It felt refreshing and exciting to be able to talk in such a straightforward and honest way with someone on a “date” – precisely because it wasn’t a date. It was just two friends who were into each other, trying to figure out a way to hook up without anyone getting hurt or ruining the friendship.

I told him I’d never really been in an intentional “fuck buddy” relationship before. I’d had casual sex, of course, but that was when I was much younger. And certainly I didn’t have frank conversations with those guys about our wants, needs, and desires; nor were we “friends” in any real sense of the word. In the last six or seven years, I’d hooked up  with people I was either already in a committed, monogamous relationship with or dating with the hope or intention of it leading to something like that.

I had no idea how I’d feel about this prearranged “casual sex” as we went along, though when I’d initially agreed to it I had felt fine — excited even — about the prospect. This seemed like the perfect way to recover from my breakup, a distraction that was satisfying in a number of ways. Since I had no way of predicting how I’d feel about the situation in the future, I promised to keep Jack informed if my feelings changed. “I’ll let you know if it starts to fuck with my head,” I told him.

And what do you know, it did.

A few weeks in, I started to wonder if maybe I just wasn’t cut out for casual sex, at least not with someone I actually liked. Though I’d promised to be honest about my feelings, I didn’t trust them and wasn’t sure how to express their complexity. We’d made an agreement, if I was no longer okay with that agreement, it was my responsibility to cut things off – I knew that much. I also knew that I was having a lot of fun and honestly didn’t want to tank the whole endeavor just because I’d started to feel confused.

People like to say that men can have casual sex more easily than women, that women can’t have sex without getting emotionally involved, whereas men can. They say men can separate their emotions from their dicks. I don’t believe any of this to be true in a biological sense, though I think our socialization does impact our sex lives. And I have female friends who have casual sex easily, often, and without getting emotionally involved or otherwise attached. I want very much to be one of those women.

Instead I felt like a cliché. Maybe I just wasn’t cut out to have a fuck buddy. The reality seemed to be that I have no idea how to navigate a “relationship” that isn’t a relationship. Is it possible to genuinely like and respect and feel attracted to a person, yet keep it “casual?” Is it possible to go on what would otherwise be perceived as “dates” with a person but not date them?

I’ve seen other people do it but frankly, I’m lost. And it’s starting to fuck with my head.

The Frisky

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

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