Searching for relationship advice, you’ll find a plethora of information and tips on marriages, partnerships, and long-term relationships. But what about short-term relationships? In a culture where casual hook ups are not only accepted but thriving with dating apps, it’s important that we navigate these short-term relationships (STRs) with respect and clear communication to make them mutually beneficial and enjoyable.
Be clear about what you’re looking for
Short-term relationships can mean different things to different people. For some it may bring to mind a quick hookup or one night stand, while with others it may be a relationship that lasts a week or a month. Some may want it to be purely physical where others are looking for a mental connection also. Be clear about what you’re looking for with perspective partners. If you’re not sure what you want, communicate that too.
Make your profile accurate
If you’re using a dating app or website to find your hook ups, try to make your profile as accurate as possible. Misleading pictures and information can lead to misleading expectations.
Also try not to fall into the patterns of profiles you see and aim to make yours unique and clear. A more concise profile will attract more particular partners. Many people use dating and hook up apps, though their intentions can vary dramatically. Make your intentions clear.
Don’t lie about the important stuff
It’s true that you may not want to divulge all your information for a person who may be a stranger again in a few hours. They don’t need to know all the details of your life but don’t lie or hold back the parts that may affect the hook up itself. Don’t hold back information about your gender, body, relationship status, or STI status to avoid a potential bad situation.
Steer clear of making assumptions about someone’s sexual preferences or expectations. Just because you’ve engaged in sex with someone in a certain way before, does not mean that this person is down for the same experience. If you are unsure, ask. It can save you from a lot of upset further into the hook up.
Have a game plan
If you are wanting your STR to transpire to something sexual that requires a private space, have a game plan for how that may work. Know if your space or home is available, and if not, what other options do you have? A friend willing to give you their space for the night, a close by air bnb you can book last minute, or a local sex club where you can both get it on?
If you don’t have a space available or it has limits on it, like time, let your potential hook up know.
Your game plan also extends to your birth control and/or STI protection. If you have a preferred method, bring your own supplies. Don’t forget pleasure! If you love your lube or want to include a vibrator to enhance the situation, bring that along too!
Let someone know
In a world where sexual violence is ripe, it’s a sad truth that you must safeguard yourself. By sending a quick text or checking in with your roommate, you are making someone aware of your plans. Share your location and let them know the person’s information including name and phone number.
Watch your alcohol and drug intake
It can be tempting to take the edge of meeting and potential having sex with someone for the first time with a few drinks or maybe a joint. However, be mindful of your consumption and your intoxication levels. Yes, it may free up some of your inhibitions, but it also lowers your reaction time and judgement. After certain levels of intoxication, the lines of consent and communication become blurred which can lead to harmful situations for all involved.
There may also be the case of your hook up using drugs and alcohol to get you intentionally intoxicated and easier to take advantage of. If you suspect this is happening, contact your safety person, excuse yourself from the situation, and make your way to a safe area.
On the other hand, if you find your date getting wasted, following through with the hook up may not be ethical. If you are uncomfortable with their consumption, respectfully let me know, ensure they are in a safe place or can get to a safe place, and excuse yourself from the date.
Know Your Boundaries
It’s always a good idea to go into a hook up with your boundaries firmly intact. Sexual and relationship boundaries are your hard “No”s, or where your draw the line. Think about what your ideal sexual experience would be and what it would include. Then picture what it would not include. Are you into oral sex but uncomfortable with penetration? Excited by the idea of rimming but not by anything being inserted into your butt? These are all boundaries.
By discussing your boundaries, you create a framework for which you and your partners can play within. This can help you relax, knowing that you’ve communicated what you’re uncomfortable with happening.
Consent Consent Consent
Asking questions during a hookup is vital. Negotiations don’t stop as soon as the action starts and communication needs to remain during the physical acts as well. Ask if you can touch, stimulate, or penetrate a person’s body in a certain way. Also pay attention to the physical cues of your partner’s body.
If you are met with a person’s “No” during sex, try not to get upset. Understand that a person’s boundaries are unique to them, and usually decided before they even meet you.
Make no promises like “I’ll call you” or “let’s do this again” if you don’t plan on doing so. A simple “I had a great time” or “it was wonderful to meet you” leaves a kind impact without promising anything you’re not going to fulfill. This way there is no false hope created.
If Feelings Develop
It happens! You go into a well defined one night stand, with great boundaries and perfect communication about expectations, only for it to all be thrown on its head as you or your date develops feelings or want to pursue more. The best way to deal with these situations is to communicate how you feel without expectations that the feelings will be mutual. If your date clearly defined that they were looking for a short-term situation only, it’s unreasonable to expect their mind to change just because yours did.
All images by Alex Kacha