He was Colombian, with olive skin, dark brown hair, and green eyes. An engineering major, we met my freshman year of college. He was the second person I ever had sex with. Before our clothes even hit the ground, he spoke frankly: "I don't want a girlfriend." There was no way I could misunderstand what he was saying. After all, he told me point-blank. (Read: "I don't want you as my girlfriend.") Most important, however, his actions were in line with his words. We didn't go on pseudo-dates, nor did we text or speak on the phone. Aside from parties with friends, and sex here and there, we showed no mutual interest in each other's lives. It was, in short, easy.
But nowadays, things are different. The older I get, the more I miss my college days when everyone was still respectful as they came into their own, when hearts had yet to be chewed to a bloody pulp, and casual sex was honest. Now casual sex is wedged somewhere between brunch and that show Facebook said you were both attending, most likely with other people but that would be awkward so you just go with each other instead. It's not that casual sex partners can't do lunch or attend the same event with or without each other's company, so much as people can get hurt when the casual sex is veiled behind the term "dating."
A few months ago, I slept with a guy I'd been hanging out with for a few weeks. The next morning, as we drank our coffee and smoked our cigarettes, he told me he was dating other people and didn't want a girlfriend. "But," he added, "we are dating. Whatever that means. You should write about that." In that second I determined we were not really dating and I was OK with that.
To the single and charismatic, I realize sex and flirting can be a fun past time. It doesn't matter if your current partner is attractive and awesome, that person over there looks even more attractive and more awesome and you want to experience that because you can and why not, you're young and one day you'll be old.
Sometimes you reach a point in life where being single sounds like the best thing ever, and in that moment it is. To be single is to be fully in control of your life, with no partner's life or feelings to consider. So when you're in your 20s and don't yet know what you want out of life, these moments of solidarity spent with one's self and friends can generate the greatest emotional growth in a person.
As a single person hungry for new meat while in pursuit of one's life ambitions, you will inevitably have sex or date someone at some point. Some of these people you meet on your journey will not be meant for you, some will be for short periods of time, and others longer, but whatever the circumstance, whether in sex or in love, do not squander a person's time or emotions with a false foundation if all that is truly available in that pairing is the satiating of sexual appetites. We're not 20 anymore. We know better. We're older. We're also stronger. The scar tissue is thicker than it ever was before. We can take it.
Tell me you think I'm hot and want to lift up the back of my skirt while we're at the bar, and I will smile slyly and whisper in your ear, "I dare you." But if you tell me, "I haven't felt a connection like this with anyone in years," while holding me close after we stare at the full moon, with my shoulder in your nook as your lips kiss the dreams in my head and know that I might get up and walk out, naked and all, to find myself another man I can fuck without fear.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't like my intimacy and casual sex to coincide. The less room there is for gray area, the better things are. If we agree to be play pals, then pull my hair and call me names, but don't tell me you have love for me, do not call me from work or vacation to tell me I'm amazing and you miss me. Do not call me on your way to my house and tell me all you want to do is cuddle and talk on the couch. Do not tell me you feel like the universe has gifted you with exactly what you want.
Things we are incapable of doing as human beings: control who we fall in love with; control who we are sexually attracted to; fly. Things we are capable of doing as human beings: treat people with respect; be self-aware; fall.
To tell a person "I don't want [you] as my girlfriend" or "I am seeing other people" is less offensive, hurtful, and cruel than to act like you care about someone when you don't.