After the first time I had kissed a stranger — in the blushing light of a music festival — I was reeling by how easily it had happened. He had seen me, chatted a little, put his arm around me…the only reason why we didn’t kiss sooner was because I was too naive to realize what he wanted.
In high school, finding someone to kiss would have been much more difficult, to say the least. Not because I wasn’t interested in anyone — but my shy and awkward demeanor didn’t attract boys at my school. The option of hooking up — being physically intimate with someone without the emotional aspect — was never really on the table, mostly because I was idealistic and unpopular, partly because high schoolers are actually more romantic than society portrays them as.
I was shaken by the intensity of the raw intimacy and sudden escalation. However, I also felt more pleased and content than I’d ever expect to be. It had happened so spontaneously that it almost felt natural, like this is the way kissing should be.
Blessfully, that first encounter wasn’t just a fluke. I found heady kisses in the corners of frat parties, amid swirling lights and pounding music. There’s usually not much conversation or courting that precedes them. Just a glance. It suits me surprisingly well: I’m not good at talking. Even though I barely had experience before college, I felt like I had been capable of this all along. I learned that I’m not a patient girl.
“I’m not, like, seductive,” I explained to my friends as we walk back home, after a successful night. “I don’t have ‘game.’ I’m just easier than most girls.”
But it’s just kissing. After making out for a while, boys usually ask me to go home with them, and I curtly say no. As it happens more and more, though, it’s harder to refuse.
One morning I woke up next to a boy, and we sweetly kissed goodbye, but it didn’t hurt to leave. Quick and painless. I didn’t miss him, and it’s the lightest I’ve felt about a boy in my whole life.
The next week, I cringed away from him when I blinked awake, remembering what we had almost did, hating him for trying to go too fast. I left the apartment without a word, and I explained my reasons through text later. We don’t talk or see each other ever again.
I’m thankful that it’s so easy to escape.
I thought I needed a summer fling in my life. A mutual friend, Kaley, hooked me up with a friend that she, herself, had hooked up with, so I trusted her recommendation.
He’s definitely a fuckboy, but not like any fuckboy I’ve ever met. He’s very affectionate and tender. “You have such a cute nose. Boop,” he said, leaning forward and brushing his nose against mine. For a second, I was insanely happy — in the next, I was struck by tragedy: because none of this was as real as I wanted it to be.
For a week, I took delicious, consecutive shots of intimacy and felt okay until it hit me all at once — ’til I was laying across his chest after a party, and the sound of his heartbeat in my ear moved me to tears.
Afterwards, I run to Kaley, and she muses, “He’s really good at making you feel special — but not, at the same time.”
It was such a clarifying, succinct aphorism; I’ve been nudging against it, but it would’ve taken me weeks to synthesize that realization myself. I needed to hear that sentence like I need food and water. Not only did it pinpoint exactly what was wrong about him — what was wrong for me about him — it also explained exactly how hookup culture is tearing me apart.
“I don’t think we should do physical stuff anymore,” I said.
“That’s fine,” he said, immediately and casually. “Is there a reason why?”
“Well, I just see myself getting hurt if I keep seeing you,” I explained. “Not by you, but by my own feelings.”
“That makes sense,” he replied, and that is that. I’m relieved by how effortless it was: that he didn’t protest, didn’t try to dissuade me. But at the same time, it hurt to see how quickly he let me go, you know? Hookups are just like that: easy to start, easy to detach. But I don’t think I’m looking for easy anymore.