Somewhere along the way, an entire generation decided that having feelings was uncool. In fact, feelings have become so uncool that they are now "caught" like the bubonic plague. On the one hand, I get it — vulnerability is terrifying. On the other hand, getting physically intimate with someone is inherently vulnerable. Feelings happen. If you are wondering how to get over someone you've hooked up with, you're not alone.
The tricky part about "hooking up" is that of all of the relationship adjacent terms, it might be the hardest to define. Growing up, my parents would unintentionally but consistently embarrass me by saying "let's hook up later" to mean "connect" in the PG way, not the naked bodies way. (Telling them why this was not OK would have been even more mortifying for middle school me.)
Millennial "hooking up" definitely connotes two bodies in a state of undress, but it doesn't necessarily mean sex. "Hooking up" might come with a side of dinner dates and romance, or it might happen exclusively at 2 a.m. Typically, "hooking up" refers to a lack of commitment, but "exclusive" hookups exist too. Confused yet? Same.
With no consensus on what the F "hooking up" even means, it's no wonder getting physical without being in a relationship can get messy. If you're trying to get over a hook up that you caught feelings for, first off, I'm sorry. It sucks, and I've been there. Have those feelings, and then, here are some actionable steps you can take to move on sooner than later:
Be Honest With Yourself
While painful, the fact that you've recognized that the feelings you have for your hookup are lopsided is the first step to moving on. So many women and men prefer denial to reality, but the thrill of a night of sex isn't worth the sadness you'll feel in the morning when you realize you're not going to get a text for a week.
Ask yourself honestly, "What did I like most about this person?" Was it the closeness? The sex? Humans release oxytocin — the "love drug" — during intercourse, so it's quite literally natural to catch feelings for someone whose body has been so intimate with your own.
Even if your feelings go deeper than the sex, do you really want to be with someone who is lukewarm about you? Didn't think so. Have you stated that you are "bad at hooking up"? Eh, maybe you just want a relationship. Getting clear about what you are looking for is a great way to start moving forward.
Tell Them How You Feel
I know, this seems counterintuitive — if you already know someone doesn't want a relationship, why subject yourself to the real life rejection? Hang on. Hear me out, I promise I'm not a masochist trying to transfer my self-sabotaging ways over to you.
In my own experience, when I have told the person I'm hooking up with that I have caught some feelings and would like more than a casual relationship, I have felt more empowered and confident than the times I've pretended my feelings didn't exist and defaulted to what my "partner" wanted. That's a long road to the same, upsetting outcome.
Even when I've gotten a hard "no thank you" from the guy I have professed my feelings for, I've been able to move on more quickly because at least I effing said it. I promise your "partner" will respect you for telling it like it is. (And if not, they're a jerk anyways.)
Remember That It's Not About You
Feelings aren't logical, so let's get figurative for a moment: Think back to a time when you were dying to try a restaurant, but once you finally tried it, you were underwhelmed. Or, think of a time when you've gone into your favorite clothing store, tried a bunch of stuff on, and then left empty-handed.
Sometimes, people are just not selling what we are buying, and vice versa. You could have a genuine connection and excellent physical chemistry with a person, but for whatever reason, they might not be in the place for a relationship.
There's no point in wasting your time beating yourself up for not being "the one" for this person who isn't reciprocating the feelings you caught. Think about a time when someone really liked you, and even though there was nothing wrong with them, you just didn't feel the same way towards them. Chemistry is weird, it's not you, and it's not them, it's just not right.
I know this last step is easier said than done, but it's the most important one. Take a Post-It, write "it wasn't meant to be" on it, and stick it on your bathroom mirror if you have to. (Well, until you start hooking up with someone new who comes over to your apartment on the reg.)
Be honest with yourself about what you want, be honest with your hookup about your feelings, and continuously remind yourself that the fact that this one hookup didn't work out does not mean that something is wrong with you. There will be others, I promise.
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