There have been many times I've wished I could casually date someone. I've wished to be content with flings, one-nighters and no emotional attachments.
But in reality, I've always been the girl who kisses a guy as a prelude to a relationship -- only when it's safe. If there's no promise of commitment or potential for love, I can't do it, or at least I can't prolong it.
But this summer, I thought I'd try. My best friend is a courageous, confident girl who can handle flings without them bothering her. She can let herself go and feel pleasure without confusing it with love. I adore and admire her for that. She feels comfortable enough in her skin to have a good time without worrying about what others think or “where this is going.”
Taking her lead, I was open to new experiences for the summer. I thought if something casual arose I'd experiment and stay cool about it. I wouldn't overanalyze, I wouldn't dream up plans after a single kiss and above all, I wouldn't expect anything from the guy.
Everyone knows expectations tend to crash in casual hookups.
As it happened, I met someone. We had fun together; we teased. We had similar backgrounds but also very different interests and life goals. It made him the perfect candidate for a summer fling. Our similarities were just enough to make it amusing, our differences substantial enough to remind us it wouldn't last.
It took him a long time to make a move so I had accepted he wouldn't. But then he kissed me (isn't life beautiful when it surprises us?).
I won't deny there was a thrill. But because I was surprised I couldn't live in the moment. I'm the kind of person that has to plan for a plan, and although I was OK with us kissing, I had to first sit down with myself and decide it was OK before I could actually feel OK doing it.
After I did, the second time around was easier and more fluid. But that didn't last long. We'd probably been kissing for five minutes when we fell silent. The little passion there had been evaporated, so we just faced one another in silence.
We looked at each other without depth. Our hands touched for contact, not intimacy. I noticed his gaze was hollow, as I'm sure was mine.
It's funny how you can stand so close to another person, close enough to kiss them and feel so far away.
It was like a brick knocked me back into reality: I felt nothing. What's worse, I knew I never would feel anything more for this guy than I did right then. There was no potential, no future. In the beginning, there had been some passion, but never magic. His touch was heavy, not intimate. This wasn't what I wanted.
The silence had clarified it all. It was so casual that there was nothing connecting us. There was nothing to say, because there was no emotion.
And when the veneer of pleasure disappeared, so did any delusion that we matched.
A sudden emptiness washed over me as I realized. Nothing about that moment was gratifying. There was no point to it at all.
Although it wasn't his fault, I felt an urgency to push him away. Just to avoid staring into the nothingness he now represented to me. To avoid the reflection of myself staring back at me, telling me we didn't fit. I thought a fling might be a pleasant distraction and a chance for adventure, but in the end, the whole thing was just perfunctory.
It was an ephemeral cover up for trying to believe what I didn't. Physical contact would always mean more to me. It was about finding a partner, intimacy and closeness. I missed adoring someone and them adoring me. I wanted touch to signify more than attraction.
I wanted a lover's gaze, not a dull stare -- I could get that from a goat.
A kiss should forge a connection and make you shiver. The silence between kisses shouldn't be hollow; it should be an appreciation of beauty.
But as I looked into his eyes at that moment, I knew I wasn't special to him, and that I never would be. And I've come far enough to say that's not good enough.
To be clear, I am not against casual dating. I don't think it was wrong to kiss him, nor do I enjoy his company less now. I think it's actually largely my own control issues that keep me from casually experiencing pleasure, when many times I wish they wouldn't. But I do think it's fair to say that casual dating isn't for everyone, and I just happen to be one of those people.
All I want to say is that if you too are one of those people, it's OK. It's OK to crave more than a fling, as it's OK to choose to have flings. It's your choice who you kiss and who you're intimate with.
It's also always OK to say no to something that's below your standards.
But if someone doesn't cherish your body, heart or mind (whichever you choose to show them), then feel free to walk away without explanation.
They don't deserve you. You can do better. As a matter of fact, you owe it to yourself to do better.