MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2018
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|The indefensible position: In praise of the 12-hour relationship|
Casual hookups may have become the post-11pm takeaways of the dating scene. One-night stands are the greasy spoons. They're not necessarily nourishing, they often don't fill you up, and invariably they come served with a side order of regret. But oh boy!, sometimes nothing else will hit the spot. The 2012 India Today Sex Survey showed that a small town like Guntur is the capital of one-night stands in India.
One-night stands are pretty common in the present times but what's worth noting is the Indian women's attitude towards sex. A study conducted back in 1989 revealed that, while 70 per cent of men would agree to casual sex with an attractive woman who propositioned them, not a single woman would do the same when the tables were turned. More recently, however, a Cosmopolitan sex survey has revealed that around 32 per cent of Indian women have had one-night stands. Just as many women as men say they'd take the fetching inquisitor up on his offer. Crucially, this shows that women were almost as likely as men to have indulged. Women, it is clear, have transitioned. The trouble is that men have not. Male courtship behaviour, to coin an especially caponised phrase, hasn't shifted at the same pace as female attitudes. To put it bluntly, women are up for it and they don't need you to jam a stick in their spokes by employing some kind of awkward, anachronistic idea of chivalry (or worse still, no sense of chivalry at all). Here is the perfect life cycle of the 12-hour relationship.
However vague or capricious this might sound, the rules here are actually fairly simple. First, if you've only just met and she is offering/agreeing to leave with you, she knows precisely what this is. Repeating something pathetic like, "But…just for fun, yeah?" will only make her angry. Discussing leaving together is unlikely to be your first conversation of the evening (and if it is, you might want to check your pockets) so you should have already spelled out your position in much less obvious ways. Try explaining how you're really enjoying the dating game, for example; or how you're not long out of something serious; or even chatting about that trip to Manali you've got coming up with your friends. Don't worry, she'll get it. For you and her both, it's a case of innocent until proven guilty-it's just a one-night thing unless it becomes something else. She won't expect too much from it other than for you to be a normal human being and above average in bed. Pay the bill while she does her final bathroom sprint, put your hand on the small of her back and walk her out.
Don't say: "So what will it be, your place or mine?"
Don't say: "Could you pay? I'm a little short on cash right now."
Do say: "Don't worry, I've got a five-star rating on Ola."
Don't say: "I love how you feel." She is not a sheepskin rug.
She's now stuck at your house for the next five-to-seven hours and all she has to her person is a good deodrant and some provocative underwear. Give her one of your shirts-one long enough to cover her bottom, so she can answer the call of duty without encountering your flatmates looking like a high-class hooker. Subtly locate her clothes while she's in the bathroom, but do not fold them up. The latter says one of two things: "I want you out," or, "I'm a weirdo who's just been rifling through your things." Neither is an emotional unguent. This moment is about sensing the tone and acting accordingly. She's not looking for assurances from you that she did-the-right-thing by sleeping with you. But, much like you, she'll want to know you enjoyed yourself and be treated with respect, not flippancy.
Lastly, a quick word on shut-eye. You know the "hug'n'roll" episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S where Chandler doesn't like cuddly sleeping, but hugs Janice anyway before reeling her away in her slumber? Yeah. She saw that episode too. It might come as news to you, but she kinda likes her own space when the lights are out.
Don't say: "Hold on a moment, I've probably got something here that'll fit you-girls leave stuff here all the time."
Do say: "Here, you can wear this, on the condition you're naked again within five minutes."
(A firm yet proprietal hand around the stomach or a gentle stroke of the breast is good; an uninvited prod in the thigh is not.) Whether it happens or not, bring her some water, perhaps some tea. Give her a towel, too. Don't be shocked if she doesn't take up the offer of a shower. She probably just doesn't want to spend the rest of the day smelling of your Kiehl's Pour Homme body cleanser. If you think there might be a hint of something else there between you-and only if- consider offering breakfast off-site. But if it was what it was, it's time to say goodbye.
Don't say: "Morning Dimple!" Her name is Sakshi.
Do say: "I'm making coffee-good coffee. Stay right where you are."
As well as being like a greasy spoon, a 12-hour relationship is also like a board game (Note: A woman is allowed to mix her metaphors). It is designed specifically for good times, when merriment is high, fun is to be had and respect for the rules is observed nonetheless. But as soon as someone starts taking himself too seriously, everyone wants to forfeit and go home. Fast love is a trivial pursuit, indeed.
You might think you have nothing to lose by getting it wrong at this point-the deed is done, after all-but that could not be further from the truth; it's what separates you from the Mad Men of this world. See her to the door, kiss her properly, tell her you had a fantastic time and, if that's really it, say nothing more. In the end, the key to getting it right is not so much what you say, but what you don't. So sshhhh, stud.
Don't say: "Take care"-or anything else you'd write in a letter to your grandmother.
Do say: "I'm really glad we met."
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