Sometimes I feel like the personal, raw topics are good ones to mull over in blogland. We all want to get our teeth into something a little more personal than dresses and pretty countryside sometimes, right? You probably know that I’ve thrashed out relationships posts on here before, and well, I’m gonna do it again. Musings on 21st century dating/’dating’/shenanigans courtesy of your gal Lily Kate. Being single means you can say whatever you want without offending anybody or making it personal. Hurrah.
I’ve rambled enough on previous occasions about how it’s an absolute minefield, but today I thought I’d ponder how much trepidation we should enter said minefield with. Because y’know, the universe likes to give us conflicting messages about these things.
(Disclaimer: I don’t believe ‘the universe’ sends any such messages)
Seriously though, I honestly think you can’t do right for doing wrong. On the one hand (now begins the part where I sound like I’m writing a history essay), we hear ‘oh you’re young, just have fun’, a bajillion times over, by people who think it’s a crime to want anything other than friends with benefits. And to be honest, friends with benefits just seems to me like a series of one night stands with the same person, or like a game where you never get beyond square one of the board. Like snakes and ladders, except you only ever land on snakes. Pardon the pun.
Friends with benefits is like snakes and ladders, except you only ever land on snakes. Pardon the pun.
Most of the time what people mean by ‘just have fun’, is ‘just play the field and don’t get feelings’ and don’t worry about the fact that rightly or wrongly, you’re probably getting judged. We’re supposed to not give one anymore, and completely detach mind from body. We’re supposed to act like all you could possibly want is a bit of casual action that means nothing whatsoever. But if the action means nothing whatsoever, then the person must mean nothing whatsoever, right? I mean… if you don’t like the person enough to enjoy their company in other ways too, then it can’t even be that good, can it?
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that I truly believe it’s not the same for girls and guys. I’m slightly sceptical of girls saying that they actually want to go out and sleep with however many guys as they can in one week. If you’re happy to do this, then fair play to you for being able to work the system like that – you’re stronger emotionally than I am. Maybe this sounds anti-feminist, I don’t know, but sex is a different scenario for men and women. For us it’s invasive and inward, and for them it’s outward. (Yes, I’m only talking about heterosexual sex here, don’t think I’m being judgemental and homophobic please – I can only write about what I have experience of and I’m straight, so I’m not gonna make any guesses about others!).
So yeah, I just don’t get the appeal. And the fact that every second guy out there wants something in the FWB category is reason enough to keep your guard up, if that’s not your style. What’s the deal with this grey area between one night stands and relationships? Isn’t it better to be either actual friends or just be open to doing it properly, to minimise the chances of getting hurt? Nobody knows from day 1 how things are gonna go, but I think it’s kinda important to both be on the same page and have an open mind. Or agree you definitely both want just the bedroom action, if that floats your boat. I don’t want this to come across like I think you have to go from friends to full on relationship without an in-between – couldn’t be further from the truth! I just think it’s best to know from the outset if either of you has categorically ruled it out.
What’s the deal with this grey area between one night stands and relationships?
The ridiculous amount of game playing that goes on these days is bound to make us cautious. We’ve dropped a load of the ‘dating etiquette’ and gained another lot, starting with the fact that we’re not supposed to call it dating any more. That would be massively uncool, of course.
The thing is though, we live in a world where not only is the next person available at our fingertips, but where talk spreads equally easily too. Like it or not, reputations are a thing. Admittedly to a lesser extent the older you get, but still. And unfortunately, what makes a guy’s reputation ‘impressive’ is the same as what tarnishes a girl’s. What I’ve gathered from chatting with male friends is that there are 2 perceived categories of girls – the type they’d consider ‘keepers’, and the type they’d consider a ‘bit of fun’. Reputations play into that, sadly. Although I’ve no doubt some girls out there feel the same way about guys too. If all you’re both after is a bit of fun then by all means go for it, but the thought of in the ‘just a bit of fun’ category is enough to make some of us a little wary, that’s for sure.
Then there’s the flip side, where I’ve seen people diving head first into full on relationships knowing there’s any expiry date looming. In the words of one of my close friends, it’s like booking yourself a week of crying into Ben & Jerry’s and vodka when it all inevitably ends. Why knowingly go there if circumstances are guaranteed to get in the way? There’s the highly romanticised idea ‘love fixes everything’, that if you care about each other enough it will work out regardless, but I’m just not buying it. If moving out / going to uni / going back home means you’ll barely be able to see each other, what’s the point?
In the words of one of my close friends, it’s like booking yourself a week of crying into Ben & Jerry’s and vodka when it all inevitably ends.
Throwing caution to the wind and getting into a relationship knowing your time together is finite seems equally daft as getting together when one of you wants casual hookups and the other wants something more. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve fallen into that trap too. Whilst there’s something almost fairytale-like about the whole whirlwind fling idea, I just don’t see how it can’t end with at least one person getting hurt. And although I’ve said before that I’d rather wear my heart on my sleeve than metaphorically lock myself away, it’s just stupid when you know for a fact that circumstances are gonna screw you over. You might disagree with me, but I’ve learnt the hard way that setting things straight from the start is the way to go.
There might be people reading this wondering what I’m on about because I’m only 18, and that’s a whole nother thing that grinds my gears. Because I’m 18 I should be able to magically detach feelings from physical stuff and ‘just have fun’, right? I shouldn’t like the idea of having someone to actually enjoy the company of (in many ways) and should just want to ‘enjoy the single life’, supposedly. But getting attached and hurt, reputations, expiry dates and scheduled breakups – there are a whole number of reasons to actually be pretty damn cautious when society tells you to ‘just have fun’. I fear I’ve descended into rant mode and that wasn’t my intention, so I’ll wrap it up now! Tell me – do you keep your guard up or throw caution to the wind, and why?
lily kate x
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tink jayne19th October 2016 at 9:31 am
I’m 30 and over the summer me and my partner of 5 years split up (read about it here) and one thing I will say as a fairly new single lady is – I HATE GAME PLAYING!
I did it so much when I was younger and would really react to it.
Now? No way. I’m all about being honest. Like me? Great. No? Bugger off then. Game playing is just a waste of time.
Defo agree that honesty is the way forward.
Brill post *applauds*
x tink jayne lifestyle x
Lily Kate France19th October 2016 at 1:15 pm
Just read your post – so sorry to hear about the tough times but it definitely sounds like you’ve come out the other side stronger! Also, you’re a fab writer. I love your writing style. Stick at writing!
WHYYYY THE GAME PLAYING??? Why pretend you only care a little bit, or pretent you care when you don’t? Just say it how it is, people! Drives me mad and I’m only 18 haha.
Thanks for stopping by!
Max19th October 2016 at 3:50 pm
I don’t know about the whole friends with benefits thing. Like you touched on, are you actually friends? Cause friends are there for each other in all kinds of ways and they do not make you feel bad about yourself. In theory this sounds like a great idea, to have a friend who is also a lover, but isn’t that what a relationship is? It sounds really complicated. Also it seems like “people” do still have Victorian viewpoints about young women sleeping around, despite all this urging you to just have fun. Also what about these “friends”? Are they real friends who know your other friends that you have to be friendly with when you aren’t “friends” with anymore? Are also “friends” with your other friends? I would say usually not. If one goes in for casual sex with several partners might prefer to keep these partners out of their real life, like you are not popping around their place for a chat about university or work the next day.
So I guess you are not dating at present? As for me, I have occasionally been swept away, but usually I kind of knew that I wanted a relationship with that person. Having sex on the first date is kind of just the first (big) step in the relationship for me, and not a recommendation. Usually (can I say that if I have been in a relationship for 18 years from one such date?) I would hold back. I don’t like people to know me or judge me too much at all.
Lily Kate France31st October 2016 at 10:06 pm
First of all – I’m not sure if my original reply sent to you on email because I have no idea why it isn’t showing here! Attempt 2.
‘Friends with benefits’ just doesn’t sound like it could actually work does it? Because like you said, close friends + sex = on the way to a relationship anyway. I can only imagine it causes drama in friend groups too!
I’m not dating anyone at present, no 🙂 Sounds like you were really lucky to just ‘know’ and have it all work out for you in the end!
Kaitlin20th October 2016 at 9:37 pm
Lily you hit the nail on the head or snake on the head shall we say. Dating can be like economics: does the risk outweigh the reward or vice versa ? I’ve been experimenting with the “90 day rule ” myself ((loosely garnered from a book. You wait 90 days before getting intimate with someone you are dating. In theory- it weeds out the men looking for fun. But on the flip side doesn’t guarantee a non asshat either.) I will say it’s been empowering for ME and increasing my patience, self control and worth. I’m rather attracted to my boyfriend (55 days to go. Not counting or anything) but remembering previous mistakes just encourages this experiment to continue. I will also say my caveat is: it will be a minimum of 90 days or it will be when I’m in love ((which would be even longer.)) I’m at a point , at 24, where I want the physical aspect to mean more. I’ve never considered the inward versus outward point you brought up. Well done. I recommend dating older , since you’re 18 maybe a 21 year old? Men are immature. Still. Mines 29. Ha! Still immature; but he was left six weeks before his wedding so he has some trauma.
Kaitlin20th October 2016 at 9:42 pm
Also – I tend to go in with an open heart guard down but guns blazing. I struggle with the unknown future but it’s impossible for me to take a really logical approach. I’m the hardest to date in the beginning of my relationships because I have a need to test the person and push in/ pull away from things. All relationships end until one doesn’t. I have had two relationships where both guys had dealbreakers (one didn’t ever want kids and one smoked marijuana daily and never wanted to stop), so there was an expiration date. It was horrible. I broke up with both and the second I dated for 3 months and I was really hurt from it. It’s best to recognize a dealbreaker and walk out quicker and sooner than later in my opinion. I made good memories with the one but having met his family and been to a wedding with him made it even harder at the end…
Lily Kate France31st October 2016 at 10:23 pm
Thanks Kaitlin! So glad you can relate and it’s not just me who feels this way. Gotta say I haven’t heard of that rule before! I bet those 90 days can go very slowly in some situtions haha. Hope it all works out well with you and your boyfriend, past traumas aside! Don’t blame you for wanting the physical side to mean more at any age. 🙂 Tbh I’ve only ever really dated guys older than me anyway, it’s always worked out like that. And I’ve learnt that age seems to make no difference anyway!
I agree with you about going all guns blazing – what’s the point in holding back and having ‘what ifs’? As for your past situations, it sounds like you really have been through a lot. I can definitely relate to some of those experiences, trust me! Everything is so much more complicated once you’re close to family and stuff, doesn’t it.
Anyway, thank you so much for leaving such a thoughtful comment! I really do appreciate it 🙂
Chinyere21st October 2016 at 5:21 pm
Hello Lily Kate, I love this piece so much having done a youtube video on this issue myself titled “Ten dating rules you should know” I’m glad and I haven’t lost faith in the young generation just yet (I’m in my thirties lol) and yes I do agree with you. Before I met my husband I actually was into into the friends with benefits thing, and I ended up breaking quite a few hearts along the way which I’m sorry about, so you’re right not everyone is emotionally strong in these matters to look the other way when the time comes, I guess it was easy for me at the time because I was leaving the country, but it still makes me feel bad for the people who are hurt. Love is a serious thing as well as sex, so my two cents on the issue, is take your time. There’s no hurry, it’ll come when it’s meant to.
Lily Kate France31st October 2016 at 10:25 pm
Thank you so much Chinyere! Do you have a link to your YouTube video? Hopefully you still have some faith in us hehe. I can imagine that leaving the country makes it easier when you know you’re the one going away doing the leaving – I’ve always been in the position that I’d be the one left behind. I’m definitely in no rush. It’s really interesting to hear about these topics from others’ points of view!
Chinyere11th November 2016 at 3:16 pm
Hi Lily Kate, I’m sorry I just got your email. It just went straight to spam. (my bad). Here’s a link to my youtube channel, and feel free to read up on the blog as well; it’s more detailed over there. FYI, I love the way you write :))
Wendy2nd November 2016 at 4:03 am
I know this comes from a faith perspective but this article explains why all of this feels so confusing.. please bear with it and read to the end….
Lily Kate France3rd November 2016 at 10:49 pm
I don’t believe so don’t really find this relatable, but thank you for taking the time to read and comment anyway. 🙂