*Ed. note: Mom and Dad, if you’re reading, the below information is all hypothetical. No, seriously.
Imagine a situation where there’s a person you maybe might actually kind of like. Not fantasizing about a wedding or doodling their last name next to yours kind of “like,” but a slow burning and small kind of enjoyment when you see their name on your phone, wondering if it’s a dinner invitation or an idea for a date, another chance to spend a night trading stories, trying to impress them with your wit. Now imagine that same situation, but instead of a dinner invitation, it’s an invitation to their apartment, where there will probably be stories traded and witty statements, plus a few things that definitely wouldn’t happen at dinner… slash in public. Welcome, one and all, to the latest line in the sandy shores of single life in NYC: when you’re on a date, versus when you’re a booty call.
One of the most difficult things to figure out when you first start talking to someone is whether they’re trying to date you, or just keep you on the books for a slow Saturday night. Some are more obvious than others that their intentions are not-so-innocent, while others are harder to figure out, keeping in touch with you during the week, but never making plans until it’s 8 p.m. on the weekend and suddenly you’re their new favorite person. In all fairness, sometimes that’s just scheduling – busy weeks at work, a crazy schedule in general, or maybe he remembered you had plans that afternoon and didn’t want to intrude. It’s those situations that are the most confusing, filling a clearly defined line of “date” vs. “dat ass” with a sticky gray matter, clouding your judgement with “I miss you” and a smile. That gray line feels like standing in emotional purgatory, staying just emotionally invested enough to try hanging out one more time, but then staying just guarded enough so he can’t hurt you, watching the precariously-built wall around you rattle, dusty and hastily-built, each time he makes you laugh. (… or so I hear).
I can understand the appeal of having a designated booty call. Sometimes people want to disengage from seeking an emotional connection for a little bit, stop trying to flirt with strangers and go home with something familiar, easy and carefree and no commitment required. There’s no talking in between these weekend nights, because you’re not trying to forge an emotional connection, not trying to find out his hopes and dreams or what’s in his Netflix queue. It’s like the ratty sweatshirt at the bottom of your closet, the one you wouldn’t wear in public, but you keep around anyway, for laundry day or for a lazy night in. Eventually it’s just more of a “why not?,” a default: no effort, no emotions, no mess.
Then again, from a twenty-whatever standpoint, I have to admit it’s probably not fair for someone to be relegated to “booty call” when both parties have put in actual effort to keep the connection alive. If you want someone to be your back-up bar girl/guy, that’s totally fine – just be transparent about it. We’re in a day and age where people shouldn’t look down on each other if you just want a no-strings-attached anything; we’re also in a day and age where people shouldn’t look down on each other if you’re looking to build those strings while having a little fun. I don’t think it’s impossible that what starts as a late-night thing can turn into something more. But if it stays a late-night thing after a few weeks of hoping and hoping for something more, maybe it’s not the worst thing to let it fade slowly and convince yourself he was only in it for the bod.
Normally this is the part of the post where I have some witty insight, or an anecdote about my own experience that ties in a larger idea, but to be perfectly honest, that’s about as far as I’ve been able to understand this sandy, grey, murky line. Transparency should be the name of the game here, grabbing a stick and drawing a thick line on your own terms, but emotions make things clouded and messy, breaking the stick and washing over your preconceived ideas. Maybe the point isn’t to force someone else into your line, your terms. Maybe it’s just finding new sticks, making line after line, until someone meets you halfway with their stick too, making everything just a little clearer as you send that Saturday “plans tonight?” text.