Do You Know How to Make Short-Term Choices in Love & Sex?

February 7, 2014

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This week’s article is for grown folks, so it’s ok if this one is not for you. It’s ok to sit this one out and come back next week.

A Quick and Dirty Love Story

A while back, I met a great guy online. He was much older than the typical men I had dated up until that point, and my initial thought was not to go out with him, but there was something about him that I liked. So I said yes.

I had just lost a lot of weight and I was still getting used to my body, so I felt good and a bit awkward at the same time. He lived on the Upper Eastside, a neighborhood so different from mine, and I was so curious about him.

Now let me pause right here, before I continue with the story. I met him during a time in my life when new friendships were scarce and I wasn’t really sure who I was becoming (hello, Saturn return). I was in therapy, I looked different and I was young. It’s only now that I’m about to turn 35 that I realize how young and naive I was, even at 27. The point is, I was in massive transition in my life, a time when everything in me and around me was changing.

Back to the story.

I remember when he walked out of his building, I thought “This guy is nice looking with a classic look. I like that”. What proceeded was a long walk, dinner and then we went back to his amazing apartment with a balcony that overlooked the city. And if you know anything about New York City real estate, you know how valuable that view is.

It usually takes me a while to develop feelings for a man, but I liked this guy right away. There was something about him that I trusted, and I wanted to get to know him better.

So I spent the night.

Yes, yes I did. And it was fantastic. The night we spent together was sensual, erotic and sweet, and he made breakfast in the morning. He invited me to stay through the afternoon to go for a swim and meet his daughter, but by that point I had been snapped back into my senses, and decided to head home and get my mind right. But I figured this was the first of what would be many more experiences together.

He emailed me right away and I was intoxicated by him. I responded, excited to see him again, and then there was nothing…

The short of it is, I didn’t hear back from him for months. My feelings were crushed and I wracked my brain trying to figure out what went wrong.

It wasn’t until years later that I allowed myself to appreciate the value that experience had for me at the time, even if it didn’t “work out” the way I had hoped. Love, sex and dating in the short-term can be a worthwhile experience if you’re able to use it to your advantage and keep perspective.

Let’s be honest here, if you’re a single woman who’s sexually active, sometimes you just want to do it. But this doesn’t just apply to sex. You might find yourself on vacation in Paris and you meet a great guy who you want to spend all of your time with, knowing you’re going back home in a week. Does that mean you should abandon that experience all together or drive yourself crazy, trying to figure out how you could maintain a long distance relationship with the hot Frenchman you just met? Absolutely not. Situations like these are worthwhile even if it never develops into anything long-term.

My point is it’s ok to make short-term choices while you’re in the midst of a transition, have a lot on your plate or can’t make a long-term commitment right now. But let’s be clear about something, this is not the arrangement you want to sign-up for when you know you’re looking to get married. This is not a substitute for your real desire for a long-term relationship, you’ll have to put forth the effort to make that happen. This is about what you can do when you’re in that place called in the meantime.

But as you consider these short-term arrangements, here are some important guidelines to keep in mind to help you do it the right way, so you can enjoy it and not make a long-term investment in something temporary:

Stop judging yourself. There’s just no point. Really, there isn’t. You might also have to keep it to yourself if you know friends or other people in your life might be more judgmental about your choices, and that’s ok. Everybody doesn’t need to know all of your business.

Be safe. I think this one is self-explanatory, but you’ve got to use your brain in these situations. That means having conversations about STI’s, protection and making informed decisions, if sex is on the table. Meeting in public spaces, letting someone know where you are, that kind of thing.

Guard your heart. This can be a hard one, especially if you’re like me, and you tend to pour your heart into situations and people. But this is the most important one. Most women aren’t good at compartmentalizing, but that skill really comes in handy in these kinds of situations.  Don’t create an emotional attachment to a temporary man or situation (please tweet that).

Love in the moment. Look, you don’t have to marry him to enjoy his company right now. Which leads me to the last one, Take it for what it is. Don’t try to turn it into something that it’s not.

So as my sister always says, that’s it and that’s all. Have you made short-term choices in love, sex and dating? How did you handle it? Leave a comment and share your experience.

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