Trigger Warning: This post relays scenes of rough, BDSM sex. Consensual but rough.
Your mother will likely tell you that you can’t build a loving relationship from a casual hook-up. You’ll likely ignore her and be convinced this is possible in 2021 – after all, Becky and Andy started off shagging and look, they’re now engaged. But how many Beckys and Andys do we know? Laura and Jake tried the FWB-to-partners thing and that failed, and Sophie and Amelia met on a hook-up app and that fizzled out after a while. We all know far more Lauras, Jakes, Sophies and Amelias than Beckys and Andys.
But hey! Who says you won’t be Becky or Andy?!
Yes, let’s ignore Mum. This is different.
We want to believe that a sexual connection with a grounding of friendship can progress into a relationship. When we have pleasurable, experimental sex with someone, we form a deep connection that some people take years to build in a traditional relationship. We might not have felt this way with anyone before (perhaps it’s the booze, the oxytocin or the coke?). The connection isn’t necessarily love (and it can be established on the first night of meeting) but it’s undeniably strong and intimate. So why won’t this develop into something beyond ‘just sex’?
Simon and Jemima meet on a hook-up app. They message each other for a while then meet up and laugh and chat all night. They share private stories and find one another charming and endearing. And the sexual chemistry is palpable. “Is it presumptuous if I stay at yours tonight?” he asks Jemima after God-knows-how-many cocktails. Thank Christ he asked! After having sex in every area of the kitchen, pushing and pulling one another in directions beyond their limits, they fall into bed as the birds start to sing. Lovely Simon has a rough, gentle way about him. He’ll slap Jemima, spit on her face then cuddle her all night, whilst stroking her hair. Simon hangs around once they’ve both surfaced then heads off. ‘See you around.’*
One night? More? Either way, what a night.
Simon and Jemima continue this pattern for a few months. Convenient, fun and satisfying – there’s more than just sex here; a friendship is developing. Could it be more than friendship?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
But throughout their casual ‘situationship’, Jemima and Simon become entwined in one another’s romantic lives – Jemima has started seeing Rosie and Simon is dating women from Tinder, Hinge and beyond. Their rope becomes longer, slackens but remains tethered. Just as they think the rope will be severed, Simon invites Jemima to a hot night in a hotel for her birthday. (No partner has done this for her and that little flame grows a bit stronger.) As her birthday nears, Jemima finds a guilty feeling settling in her stomach; it’s probably not fair on Rosie even though her affirmations of commitment only run skin-deep. So Jemima tells Simon the truth and the hotel is postponed.
It’s not until a few weeks later that Jemima realises Rosie is never going to commit. She messages Simon, who’s over the moon to hear from her and they arrange a rendezvous.
We all think we know Simon; he’s cool, non-committal and flexible with plans. Turns out, Simon was gutted when Jemima cancelled their night of passionate sex. Feeling let down by Rosie, silly Jemima takes Simon’s disappointment as an indication of romantic interest rather than wanting sex he doesn’t (can’t?) have with anyone else. She lets herself fall into him, following her heart rather than her head (quite out of character, I might add).
The rendezvous lasts a few days.
Wild, like the others, but somewhat more tender (or is that wishful thinking?).
Simon returns home. Spent, satisfied and apparently on a cloud. Jemima’s phone receives a message – Simon likes her and how would she feel if this became something more? Naturally, Jemima is thrilled and floats around on a cloud of her own for days.
Sadly at this point, the world is still in lockdown. Fuck-buddies are basically banned and housemates make for tricky accomplices. Cool, non-committal and flexible Simon buys a one-way ticket to South America; ‘there’s nothing here for me,’ he messages Jemima.
‘There’s nothing here for me’ makes its rounds in Jemima’s head for days, weeks, months.
She busies herself the way every single person does in lockdown: keeping up with friends and family, having too many Zoom quizzes and flirting with random people online. As the weeks turn into months and Boris announces a depressingly slow exit plan, Jemima and Simon keep hold of that thread that connects the south of England to South America. The thread is weakened but still in existence.
Spring has sprung and Simon is on a plane to the UK. They reconvene for another night and Jemima leaves anticipating these sporadic nights becoming more frequent. What gave her that idea? Only Simon’s words and actions…
A month goes by and Simon has clearly got other things on. He’s having a tough time with family and Jemima is always empathetic to these situations. Then he runs off again – there’s nothing here for him in London, so off to Manchester he goes. Jemima is dumbfounded, to say the least.
Friends, sisters and counsellors provide helpful insights. Jemima worries about what she said but that’s no use.
Miraculously, Jemima begins to forget about Simon and his wayward nature. Yet some cruel twist of fate, it’s now, two months later, that he pops back into her WhatsApp – ‘…I’d love to say hello in any way you’d have me.’ Sure, a ‘hello’ drink can be arranged but then there’s no arranging and Jemima realises Simon won’t commit to her and experimental, casual sex won’t always lead to a relationship.
And Becky and Andy are very much the exceptions to the rule.
*In no way is this post condoning aggressive, rough sex. Whilst names are fictitious, the retelling is based on consensual experiences. If you are concerned about sex you (or someone you know) have had, please seek professional advice.