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Listen, we all know that modern dating is difficult. Between all of the dating apps, social media, and just general stress of existing, it’s a wonder any of us get out at all. It’s the same whether you live in a bustling city, where you constantly have to work to make sure that you can continue to live there, or a rural area, where you already know everyone and you already dated everyone you wanted to when you all went to high school together - it can be difficult to start a relationship "naturally". Nobody meets in bookstores anymore, reaching towards the same copy of Catcher in the Rye, and gently touching each other’s hands before pulling away bashfully. Nobody accidentally leaves their charming notebook behind on a subway, and their future husband spends days trying to find the owner, just to start one of the most beautiful, romantic love stories of all time when they finally find each other. And if those people still exist, quite frankly, I would rather eat up to three of my own fingers than speak to them at a dinner party.
Dating is scary, and a lot of people realize that, which is why there’s such a tendency to go low-maintenance and start by hooking up first. Hooking up isn’t scary (or at least it shouldn’t be) - its fun, exciting, sexy, and occasionally it could even grow into something that is somewhat emotional. Hooking up does not always evolve into something more, but eventually, a kind of friendship could form that becomes a lot more intimate than just meaningless sex. Think about it: you get to know each other, you talk, you learn each other’s bodies and what your partner’s turn ons and turn offs are. At a certain point, if the relationship has morphed into something new, you just have to face the music and realize that you are not fooling anyone with your ‘we don’t want to label anything’ rhetoric. Here’s some sure-fire signs you might be dating, and not just hooking up anymore! Listen to us for the best sex advice and figure out just what that relationship of yours might be!
Face it, our friends sometimes know us better than we know ourselves. Sometimes they just offer that perfect little nugget of relationship advice that we need, so listen to them! Although you might think that you are a great judge of character when it comes to other people, sometimes it is close to impossible when it comes to reading a situation that you are directly involved with, because you can’t be neutral. Your friends know you and love you, and honestly, odds are that if they even know about some random person you have been sleeping with, that’s already a big step towards something. One step even further is if this person has met your friends, and has maybe even hung out in a group setting with them and had fun - in which case there is basically no way in hell your friends are not looking at you a little sideways when you tell them "we’re just hooking up".
As mentioned before, dating is scary, and hooking up is comfortable and noncommittal, so there may some resistance to realizing that the bond you have with the person you have been having fun, breezy and exciting sex with might be something a little deeper. Now, you might be raised with the question, "well, what do we do now?". All sorts of questions are raised from that moment: do you talk to your partner and see what’s going on in their minds? Do you establish boundaries to push away from the idea of a possible relationship? Or do you just not say anything at all and continue with what’s already been happening? Those conversations and situations are all petrifying for lots of people, because talking about your feelings is inevitably difficult. So, if all of your pals are breathing down your neck and pointing out that there is obviously something a little more going on than just hooking up, it might be time to take some relationship advice and ask yourself, "what do I want out of this situation?"
Although your friends have your best interest in mind, and them bringing up that certain guy does come from a good place, it is important to remember that this is about you, and you do not need to let anyone make an outside influence. Researching relationship advice is a great first step to figuring out what is going on, and organizing your thoughts about the situation. If you are perfectly happy with the bond that you have now formed with someone that initially was just a meaningless sex partner, then you do not have to jump into anything you are not ready for. If you want more out of the situation, and you think that the feelings are likely reciprocated, then by all means, talk about it. Or, if you feel like you might have the stronger feelings in the relationship, and your partner only wants to stay where you are both at, that is another thing to evaluate. Will it hurt in the long run if you just keep hooking up?
Sometimes hooking up can be just as much of a messy situation as dating is, because it comes with its whole different set of proverbial rules and regulations that differ with every single encounter. Sometimes, hooking up just means that — that is the only thing that ever happens: sex. It means that you do not really talk to this person outside of the bedroom, it means that you do not really ever tell your friends about them apart from whether or not the sex is good, and it means that both of you definitely never check in on each other during the day. It means that the only type of relationship advice you are looking for is best sex advice and nothing too committed necessarily, and that is more than okay!
It is possible, and within the realm of reason, to have a compassionate, emotional friendship with someone that also entails sex, so it is not necessarily a bad thing or something to worry about if you are getting that elusive good morning text from them. If you want this arrangement to only be about sex, however, and you are receiving cute little messages throughout the day that suggest that they are thinking about you, it might be time to have the "what is this?" talk with them. We are all emotional beings, and it is more and more prevalent to gain fulfillment out of various relationships that do not necessarily have you running down the aisle. If you are in a dating situation that does not have the big ‘HE’S MY BOYFRIEND’ label slapped on it, and that is what you want, then that’s fine. But if you either a) don’t want the situation to get serious, or b) do want the situation to get serious but do not think the conversation will come up unless you do it, then the little notes, texts and messages throughout the day might be an indicator that this is a little bit more than just sex.
On the other side of this, are you walking down the street and seeing something that you know they will find funny? Did you just watch a movie that you are certain they would like if they haven’t seen it yet? Do you find yourself itching to talk to them throughout the day and, most importantly, outside of the bedroom? In that case, take a moment to evaluate your situation, because it looks like you have some feelings.
There are few things more charming and heart-warming than when somebody remembers something about you. Not just your birthday, or what your job is, or whether or not you like horror movies, but the little things. Realizing that you do not like green peppers because they saw you picking it off of your pizza and pushing it to the side, realizing that you do not really like to take medication for headaches because you never take any pills, even remembering just how you take your coffee is one of the nicest things that a person can do for someone. Although some people might be more observant than others, remembering those specific, sweet little eccentricities that make you you comes from a place of warmth and caring, without question.
Relationships are never black and white, and every single encounter that you have with every new person comes with its own idiosyncratic set of boundaries. Something to really bear in mind if you are questioning the depth of a hook up is where you want to see this relationship go in the future. It is perfectly acceptable and nice to have a sexual partner who makes you feel that warmth and appreciation, and that is all that it is and needs to be, but if you are wracking your brain trying to make sense of why this person woke you up with a coffee made with two creams and three sugars, just the way you like it, then by all means, explore new steps. Ask yourself not necessarily why they took the time to remember what your favourite movie is, but what is it about this situation that made the words "There’s Something About Mary is my favourite movie" that you mentioned passingly in conversation weeks before stick in their head when you both decided to watch a movie before bed. There’s likely something different here for them too, so it is worth exploring if you want to.
If you and your partner have been with each other so frequently, and are talking so much that you are starting to have your own little inside jokes with each other, then the chances are that something is a little bit more meaningful here. If the two of you are hanging out in situations that are outside of the bedroom, and you both find yourselves basically speaking a different language than everyone else because of all of your inside jokes with each other, then the odds are pretty high that something more emotional than just easy, breezy sex is happening. This is something that can harken back to the section on your friends seeing that the bond is something more than hooking up, because there is nothing more transparent than two people who can’t seem to stop talking to each other for even a second to join the rest of the party. This is also definitely another situation where it’s helpful to listen to or read relationship advice to gain perspective on why this encounter might be different, because this is such a small, simple thing, it could go undetected by you.
This kind of camaraderie is a great feeling, because this is not only someone who understands your needs sexually, but they understand and mesh well with the kind of person you are in your interests, and, really, your entire personality in general. They know what makes you laugh, they know what makes you feel good, and, of course, any person would want to consider pursuing something if this is the case that they find themselves in. It is important to take time to ask yourself if where you are at is where you want to be, and not drive yourself mad by analyzing little aspects of your situation. If they care about you like it seems they do, they will be real with you.
This is a big one. Many people (of course, not all people), need sex, that goes without saying. There is a certain fulfillment that can come from it, something a little more than just getting off - feeling connected with your body, feeling healthy, feeling good about yourself. Or, sometimes, it is just about getting off, and that is completely acceptable and normal too - but if you reach a point in your relationship with this sexual partner where there is a certain intimate fulfilment that is being met outside of having sex with each other, then odds are you have formed a very special bond.
Intimacy comes in many shapes and sizes; it’s the reason why we have friends and companions, it’s the reason why we bother with dating at all. Intimacy can mean going out for a coffee with one of your friends and catching up, and because of it, feeling heard and loved Intimacy can mean someone looking you in the eyes during intercourse, or holding you when you’re sleeping. Intimacy doesn’t even have to be as frilly as those examples - it just means that you garner a sense of happiness based off of the bonds that you have formed with other people. Intimacy without sex with someone who you have been having proposed meaningless hook ups with is a big thing! Not because you have to stress on whether or not you both should be actually calling it dating, but because you have found a special person in your life totally by mistake, and you want to keep them in your life because they mean something to you - and odds are you mean something to them.
It really bears repeating that no one other than you and your partner have a say over what the next step is in your situation. Take in relationship advice for your benefit to figure out what you want your next step to be. If you want to keep it as casual as possible, then you should be able to. If you want to maybe talk about the idea of ‘officially’ dating each other, then you should be able to talk about that. Or, if you are perfectly happy with the companionate bond that you have formed with someone you enjoy having sex with, then you should be allowed to remain right where you are. At the end of the day, this is all about communication with your sexual partner - you are not in this alone and you should not have to let the opinions of friends or outsiders push you in a direction that you do not want to go. You do not have to feel overwhelmed, or anxious, or ‘crazy’ because you are thinking about someone who you have a great connection with. You are not needy, or pushy, you are being human, and reasonable. Dating can be really maddening if you find yourself trapped in your thoughts, so just be honest, because really, if they react negatively to you saying you really enjoy their company, then that is just not someone you want to be with anyway. If this person is making you feel good and valued, then you deserve to ask the question, "what are we?"
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