Sarah Weir
June 17, 2015 6:22 am

Dear Sarah,

Recently I’ve been hanging out with a guy who is kind, smart, funny, and smoking hot to boot. The thing is, he’s only looking for a fling—although he did say he wanted an exclusive one.

I’ve been debating having a fling for a while.  Sexually, I’m kind of a newbie (I’m 21 and have always felt like a late bloomer.)  My last boyfriend wasn’t the best at helping me figure out what I enjoyed. Talking it through with my friends, I think an exclusive fling might be great. In my last relationship, I was scared to talk about what I wanted in bed. But now, I’d be going in with my eyes wide open and I wouldn’t be anxious that my desires would weird him out.

I am scared though that I might become too emotionally attached. Even now, knowing it will end, I’m worried that it will hurt when things are over. I know I want this fling—but I don’t want to have my heart completely broken. Do you have any advice for me?

—Hesitant in Minnesota

Dear Hesitant,

There used to be this corny song that lamented, “Feelings…whoa, whoa, whoa…feelings…” Yes, feelings…emotions…those pesky, uncontrollable monkeys that get over-excited and create a ruckus and sometimes bite people and throw their own poop around. Forgive me for sounding like a cranky old lady shaking her cane and crowing, “Kids today, whatever happened to morality?!” But, here’s the deal: it can be really, really hard to cut off good sex from emotion. Trust me, I’m not a big one for “morality,” —basically, my code of ethics is “if it doesn’t hurt somebody else or yourself, it’s probably OK.” From what I’ve observed, the whole friends-with-benefits thing is a bit of a sham and sometimes “benefits” the dude more than the chick (I know there are readers who will vehemently disagree with me, which is cool, let’s get a conversation going). I totally get your concept that you might feel freer to experiment and be uninhibited when the relationship stakes are low, but as you have intuited, you could indeed fall for this man and start wanting more than a hook-up.

From a science-y point of view, when women orgasm, a hormone called oxytocin is released that increases feelings of love and trust (it’s also released when you have a baby and helps the bonding process). So, paradoxically, if you achieve your goal of having a super-sexy awesome time with a man who you ostensibly don’t care about, it could actually increase your chances of crushing on him.

Also, what is an “exclusive fling?” It kind of sounds like a…relationship? I know I’m being bit of a buzzkill but here’s my last caveat: sex with someone in the context of committed, loving relationship (with good, open communication) can be very powerful and all-around amazing.

HOWEVER, if you are really attracted to him and want to go for it, I’m not going to tell you to take a cold shower, put on snuggie, and watch a three-hour World War II documentary on the History Channel. What I would suggest is to take it slow, first try out a passionate-but-emotionally-safe make-out sesh and promise yourself you will be home in your own cozy bed at a reasonable hour. Then, evaluate, hash it out with your girlfriends, and decide if this fling arrangement is really going to work for you, and add-on from there accordingly.

No matter what, practice safe sex and be smart and true to yourself!

Love, Sarah

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