How to stifle all of your feelings in a hookup (or not)

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She slept over and the next morning I wished she’d just disappear from my life.

I didn’t want so much as an inkling of anything to do with her — I didn’t want to exchange numbers, to add her on Facebook or to acknowledge her existence in my world.

And the fucked up part is that I thought this was normal: that the best sort of hookup is completely anonymous and that you shouldn’t want to see each other ever again.

But I’d never felt so broken or damaged before in my entire life.

I’m sure she felt shitty about it, too, but she was already in a relationship so she probably preferred to keep it that way.

(And it wasn’t a non-monogamous relationship, to make the wound even saltier.)

A small part of me wanted to find and develop a committed relationship and to be with somebody at that level but I don’t think I was ever ready for that in college.

Not then, maybe now.

So, I stayed avoidant for as long as I possibly could.

Anytime I felt like I was growing close to somebody, instead of leaning into those often complicated feelings, I’d run away.

This was the norm, not the exception.

Even when I knew that those feelings would likely be reciprocated, I still ran.

I thought that that was the masculine thing to do: that actually connecting with somebody on a deeply emotional level was for pussies.

And that you should hate everything, especially relationships.

Especially yourself.

Hate is a difficult emotion to wash off.

Hookups and emotional connection.

She had me against the wall in our fraternities disgusting frat-house and she was sucking on my fingers and it was hot and part of me was like, is this seriously happening right now?!

Cool! I thought.

I’d met her, I think, in one of our classes and a few nights before that she’d basically implied, via text, that she wanted to have sex but I was none-the-wiser and frankly that terrified me.

I invited her over to “study” and I’m sure that’s the last thing she wanted to do, too.

And so, she came over and we were playing video games in my room and I just remember how terrible she was at video games but also how much tension I felt.

Historically, when I’ve felt that tension, I’ve tried my best to shove it down deep inside like a dirty secret.

I had this cute girl in my room and I was just sitting there playing video games.

I was pretty aloof then. (Not that that’s changed very much.)

And so, at some point, she said something like, “sooooo… what should we do next?!”

And I think she was implying that she probably wanted to hook up but because I was smart, I said, “more video games?!”

She left not five minutes later.

I’d make the same mistake a few more times, but not at the party.

She was sucking on my fingers and we were making out and I probably had about a half-chub at that moment in time.

And I suggested that we go back to my room, the one that we were playing video games in not a few days earlier.

She said, sure! and I was like, score!

And so, we went back to my apartment.

Before we even got into my room — in fact, in what had essentially become a “chill room” in the back of the house, right next to the kitchen — she had my dick in her mouth.

That was the moment I knew that I liked this girl.

A few days later, we were texting back-and-forth to hang out and I could feel the resistance in my body telling me that this feels off!

(In hindsight, I think that was my subconscious telling me to go for it, dude! Just suck it up, yo!)

And so, we were texting back-and-forth and she invited me over or to a party or something and I was being especially difficult and hard to read.

(Because texting is the worst fucking way to communicate with anyone.)

At some point, we just stopped trying to connect with one another.

And I was disappointed.

Really disappointed.

Because I wanted to see her again and I wasn’t sure how to react.

I continued to stifle those feelings, deep in my gut, for years.

When a small piece of you dies.

I think she was crying.

She had developed a crush on my roommate and was mostly there in an effort to get to him, I’m sure, but she was in my room.

And so, I consoled her and told her it was okay.

And that, we didn’t have to hookup.

(And side note: college I was about as insecure and faux-manipulative as they come, so I probably didn’t really mean it.)

Eventually, she calmed down and she stayed over and I don’t think we really did anything beyond make-out with our clothes on but I still felt off the next day.

Like I’d stolen something from somebody.

And it didn’t feel like I took anything expensive or particularly meaningful.

And I just felt this guilt and shame the next day that was only slightly mitigated by the fact that some of my housemates were like, dude, nice! because bros will be bros.

I’ve never felt particularly good after a hookup that I knew was ultimately meaningless.

Even if it’s fun in the moment, I always feel guilty or shameful the next morning.

I’ve never been one to feel particularly masculine or more manly because of a hookup.

In fact, for me, it’s far more emasculating and psychologically damaging than it is productive.

Which is why, more and more, I try to avoid those moments.

Sure, I enjoy hooking up with people as much as the next person, but I get emotionally attached, too.

In recent years, I can’t think of a particular hookup or moment in which I didn’t get emotionally attached to somebody or at least feel something afterward.

And I like those feelings: those jitters, that excitement, that nervousness.

I’d hate to see that ever go away.

I’d hate to become cold to that.

The truly masculine thing.

As soon as I left her apartment that night, I felt like crying.

I felt so guilty and awful and in the wrong.

I thought my girlfriend at the time was going to break up with me.

(Because even though we were in an open relationship, it felt like I’d had this girl’s mouth on my dick for 15 seconds too long.)

I called my friend the next day and I told him about it.

How awful and yucky it felt.

“Do you think I fucked up?” I asked.

He said, “no, you’re fine man. Especially in an open relationship.”

“I don’t get how people do this random hooking up thing. I’ve always hated it,” I said.

And we both agreed that it wasn’t for us.

It was never for me.

I’ve always felt like a shitty, horrible monster after hooking up with anybody.

We’re taught that, as a guy, you should want to fuck everything.

Does it have legs? Fuck them.

Does it talk? Fuck them.

Is it a person? Maybe? Definitely. Fuck the shit out of them.

You’re judged and evaluated by your number.

In fact, people will even go so far as to make up addictions in order to rationalize their behaviors that are more often driven by low self-esteem than they are serious addictions.

Because, again, fucking things is masculine.

I’ve never felt less like a man than when I’ve hooked up with somebody who I felt like I should never have.

Saying ‘yes’ to everything isn’t particularly masculine, though.

Because it paints you as an insecure loser. Someone whose self-worth isn’t wrapped up in whether or not they feel they’re actually worthy, but whether or not people will actually have sex with them.

(And that’s not to say that casual sex is bad or wrong or anything. It’s totally fine and healthy and normal.)

Saying ‘no’ to opportunities for sex, for hookups, for whatever — that’s far more “alpha” than saying yes to anything with a warm hole.

I’ve been trying to say ‘no’ to just as many opportunities for hooking up and for sex as I’ve said ‘yes’ to.

(You know, all three of them, right?! Haha, what a loser.)

I’m a little more selective these days.

That makes me happy.

Maybe I’m just rationalizing.

Maybe I’m overcompensating.

But that works for me.

A few months ago, a friend who I’d been hanging out with (and met through THE INTERWEBZ) told me that she liked me and that she thought I was attractive.

I told her that I was happy to hang out with her as friends and that I was flattered and humbled that she felt that way about me, but I didn’t see anything beyond that.

Normally, I would’ve lied and said, “yeah, me too!” Because that’s the easier thing to do.

And it wasn’t the truth.

I don’t think we’ve really hung out ever since.

In hindsight, it felt like the right thing to do.

Instead of forcing it.

I was just being honest this time.