We get it: it stinks to be in a boyfriend slump. You miss getting random texts during the day, having someone who looks at you differently than a friend would, and benefitting from a person in your life who means something special to you. Let’s be honest––if you’re stuck in a dry spell between relationships, like many collegiettes are at some point in their college career, a no-strings-attached hook-up can begin to be pretty tempting. Whether you’re hoping it could lead to a relationship or that it’ll just serve as something fun in the meantime before you meet Mr. Right, it’s easy to see the pros in casually hooking up with someone. What’s harder to see, however, are the reasons why a hook-up might not be such a great idea after all.
“Friends with benefits sounds like a foolproof plan. Any safe harbor in a storm, right? You are feeling lonely [and] he is game for a go; why not?” Jodi R. R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Counseling, says. “Why not indeed. There are plenty of reasons to opt for a cold shower or battery-operated romance instead.” Before you dive headfirst into a hook-up, consider these 5 reasons why you should think twice.
1. You’re Close Friends
If the two of you have a solid history together, think twice before hooking up. While friendship can definitely lead to a great relationship, if you’re just looking for something casual, it’s not worth risking what the two of you already have in the name of a fling. “While there are the occasional ‘Samanthas’ [of Sex And The City] among us, for the vast majority of females, sex creates an emotional connection to the other person,” explains Smith. “Before that first kiss, imagine you see him tomorrow holding hands on the quad with another co-ed. If you feel a bit of jealousy creeping into the pit of your stomach, then you are not emotionally disconnected enough to go through with it.”
Reflect on the memories you have with this guy to help decide whether or not you’re willing to risk a future where similar moments will no doubt be altered. “If this person is truly a good friend, search your feelings: are you secretly hoping this hook up with lead to a relationship? If so, better to keep your clothes on and ask him on a date then to lock lips and forever lose a friend,” Smith says.
2. You’ve Known Him for 20 Minutes
The flipside is also something to consider when deciding whether or not to start a new hook-up. If you barely know the guy you’re considering get close to in the imminent future, make sure you’re not jumping into something too quickly. “Slow down and ask yourself why you are so ready to jump into bed with a stranger,” says Smith. “Is he a cutie with good boyfriend potential? Then flirt the night away, get his number, and start with an afternoon date which can evolve into a dinner date, and then turn up the heat after you have known him for a number of hours rather than a number of minutes.”
While too much history can be a definite turn-off when deciding whether or not to hook up with someone, not knowing enough about what a person is like outside of the situation you just met them in is also something that should give you pause. Slow things down a little and check with other friends or classmates who might know more about him. You don’t need to know every single thing ever about a guy, especially if you’re just looking for something casual, but make sure he is who he says or appears to be. Double check that basic facts check out—like that he’s actually single—whenever possible before rushing into something more.
3. You Want Revenge or Payback
It’s never, ever, ever a good idea to hook up with someone as a way of getting back at a boyfriend/girlfriend/recent ex who has made you angry or upset. This often leads to a lot of hurt and confusion for you, whoever you hooked up with, and the other person in the picture. “I hooked up with two guys immediately after I started school freshman year just to get back at a long-distance boyfriend,” says Anna*, who goes to the University of Missouri-Columbia. “I was mad [that] he blew off our Skype dates and wouldn’t answer his phone, and thought this would be a way of getting his attention.”
Smith explains: “Women use sex to feel loved. Hook-ups are not a sign of a confident gal with good self-esteem.” Instead of hooking up with someone else to calm your anger or heartbrokenness, consider having a cozy night in with some girlfriends, wallowing in chick flicks, or even taking a weekend at home if you live close enough and need some TLC from mom. Give yourself a day or two to cool off instead of doing something you’ll regret later on.
4. You’re Really Just Not That Into Him
“Don't feel guilty or pressured to hook up with a guy that you're not actually interested in or attracted to,” advises Gabbie, a collegiette from UNC-Chapel Hill. “I had a new guy friend that I thought was really cool and funny, but it was pretty clear from the beginning of our friendship that he wanted to exit the friend zone. I knew I wasn't attracted to him, and I knew that I didn't want to hook up with him, but I did so anyways because I felt so bad.”
Instead of giving in, try to help him out by finding someone else for him, Smith advises. “If he gives your grief about being in the friend zone, ask him what he is looking for in a girl and start playing matchmaker with your friends,” she says. “He may not float your boat, but everyone’s boat is different. And if he keeps pressuring you, ditch him; clearly, he is not really a friend.”
Relationships that start out of sympathy or pity, or from pressure put on the two of you by friends or others around you, almost never end well. “Even if you think you're being nice and doing a lovestruck guy a favor by hooking up with him, it’s really just going to cause further trouble for both of you if you're not into the hook-up,” says Gabbie.
5. He’s Forcing You Into It
You wouldn’t stick it out in an abusive relationship, so why put up with an abusive partner in a hook-up or FWB scenario? Maybe it’s comments from your friend about the way he acts towards you or treats you, concerns expressed by family members about changes in your behavior or attitude, or that little nagging feeling that doesn’t seem to go away when you’re together with him, but if things feel wrong or you have any doubts about starting something more than friendship with a guy, hold back! Take any verbal threats, displays of physical violence, or statements about you “owing” him for a meal, drink, or sexual encounter seriously.
“In 2014, we woman have the right to flirt all we want. If he wants to pay for dinner, he is paying for the pleasure of our company, NOT the chance to be pleasured later,” says Smith.
Any guy who tries to intimidate you, threatens you into starting something, tells you that you “owe” him something, or demonstrates other emotionally or physically unhealthy behavior is bad news. “Lose him and his number fast… when a guy shows you who he is, believe him the first time!” says Smith. Avoid a hook-up like the plague in this situation!
It can be hard to think about the cons before things get hot and heavy with your dude of choice. As difficult as it may be, it’s a good idea to think twice, and consider if any of these reasons (or ones unique to your situation) serve as a reason to avoid hooking up, no matter how tempting the guy may be.
*Name has been changed.