Sometimes a casual make out buddy is all you need

Sure, dating can be fun. It can also be stressful, confusing, heartbreaking, weird, and…boring. But we still do it, and we want to know how you do it, too. In our series “Adventures in Dating,” one writer documents their love life for three-plus months, and we get a peek into every part of their experience—the fun and the frustrating. First up, N.Y.C.-based sex writer Shelby Sells will be telling us all about her summer.

Alert the press! I’ve still got it! The last two weeks have radically transformed my perspective on dating. Who says your “Hot Girl Summer” can’t kick off at the end of August? I don’t know what is in the air, but I’m getting attention from potential suitors left and right. I swear, I can’t even walk down the street without locking eyes with some hottie. Getting all the drama out of my love life seems like it’s really starting to pay off.

Summer’s end is upon us, and everyone is trying to get it in one last time before cuffing season starts. I like to call this a “final, final.” A few months ago, I connected with a guy after seeing him perform one evening in Brooklyn. He doesn’t live in New York, but he’s super cute and I was blown away by his talent. I found his Instagram (I’m a regular Nancy Drew), followed him, and was met with a quick follow back. I didn’t think much of it, as I’ve had a full plate in my dating life, but I thought it was a friendly gesture.

A little over two weeks ago, he popped up in my DMs, replying to one of my stories with a fire emoji. “Back at you,” I responded playfully. A message bubble appeared asking, “Do you want to make out sometime?” I had to appreciate his directness. This level of confidence is so sexy to me. You have to admire someone who knows what they want and goes after it respectfully. Why play games? Plus, who doesn’t like making out? Making out is the middle school equivalent of hooking up—innocent and fun. It can be really sweet, like holding hands with your crush, or it can be hot and heavy, leading to some other naughty activities.

Either way, I was down. I’ve been fairly contained this summer, keeping my head down, working on myself, and focusing on my goals. Why shouldn’t I have a little fun? All work and no play, am I right? We texted back and forth for the next week until he was in town. I took some close friends to watch him perform, and we all had a blast. Afterwards, I walked him to a nearby bar that looks like your grandma’s basement (think wood walls, retro bar stools, and neon signs), coincidentally an aesthetic we both appreciate.

It was kind of nice knowing that I may never see this person again. I know how that might read (LOL), but it felt spontaneous and free. No expectations.

We talked, laughed, and flirted. The energy between us was natural and easy. There was no pressure because we both already knew we wanted to make out with each other (shout out to communication!) and, at least for me, it was kind of nice knowing that I may never see this person again. I know how that might read (LOL), but it felt spontaneous and free. No expectations. Two people genuinely enjoying each other’s company and living in the moment. The bartender (an elderly woman with condescending eyes) wouldn’t stop staring at us, so I put up my hand, shielding us from her view, and made a joke about her wanting to watch us tongue each other down.

At that moment, he leaned in and gave me the softest, warmest kiss. My entire body melted into a pool of buttery goodness on the floor. Have you ever kissed someone and your entire body felt ignited? THAT. My mind, which is usually going a thousand miles a minute, went fuzzy, silent, as we got lost in each other’s embrace. I couldn’t help but smile. We both laughed and complimented the other’s kissing style. I swear, romance novels have been written about his pillowy soft lips. And let’s be real, usually if they’re good at kissing, they’re good in bed.

We made out for a little longer and parted ways. He texted me minutes after I left his side, and we talked about how glad we were to have spent time together. I was happy that we didn’t go further than a glorious make out session, and I practically skipped to the train. Over the next few days, I went about my business, not having the usual anxiety that sometimes accompanies first dates (or hangouts, if you will). I’ve been practicing creating space in my relationships for both parties to exist individually.

Growing up, my parents were extremely codependent, and that’s the relationship model that manifested in most of my romantic partnerships. It doesn’t help that the representation of love in media is almost always presented as codependent, too. We’re conditioned to think of ourselves like Romeo and Juliet, Bonnie and Clyde, Sid and Nancy. That “us against the world” mentality can be an extremely toxic ingredient in relationships; I’ve learned this the hard way. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to date in today’s culture, and my experience with this man reminded me that not everything has to fit into these overdone romantic stereotypes.

I woke up to a surprise text from him a few days later asking what I was doing the next day. Turns out he had booked another job in the city and was going to be in town for the weekend. Did somebody say round two? We were both excited at the prospect of spending more time together. I went to sleep that night giddy, looking forward to his tender touch. The next morning I woke up to another surprise text, this time from my ex-boyfriend who I’d broken up with at the beginning of the year.

I hadn’t spoken to my ex (let’s call him X) in a couple months and was shocked, but not surprised, that he reached out (X always does). For a second, I thought X was finally respecting my boundaries—but alas, he just can’t seem to stay away. Long story short, his text sent me spiraling. This is a person who gaslit me for two years. X was physically and emotionally withholding, and it created an extremely unhealthy push-pull dynamic in our relationship. When we dated, everything was centered around him and his schedule. 10/10 would not do it again.

I spent the morning crying and setting boundaries.

I spent the morning crying and setting boundaries with X that included blocking his number. Usually, I try to refrain from cutting people out of my life completely, but after re-living the pain that was (and apparently still is) at the center of our relationship, I decided to take some space from him. I left my phone at home and went to get some comfort food. I ended up making some friends at the restaurant and started to feel better. When I got home, I checked my Instagram for the first time that day—only to learn that I had been VERIFIED! You can’t tell me karma isn’t real. The universe continually blesses me for ridding the toxicity from my life.

I spent the weekend with out-of-town make out buddy. We adventured around the city and shared romantic moments together. Reflecting on it now, I’m grateful for our time together. If nothing else, I can see this person being a good friend of mine for years to come. This year has been a continual process of shedding old skin and traumatic layers of my past. Every day I seem to get a little closer to my goals and dreams. I’m surrounded by light and love, and I’m seeing that shine in all the people around me. It’s with confidence and grace that I enter fall and a new chapter of my journey.

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