The Art of the Sober Hookup

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By Hester Prynne

As awful as it sounds, the collegiate generation has completely mastered the drunken hook-up. How often have you been inebriated and texted the person you’re thinking about, in hopes of them texting back something promising? I think the most atrocious thing I have texted was, “If you want to hang out, I’m down – but only with the best intentions, obvi.” What is wrong with me? But, whatever, we’ve all done it. We’ve all taken a tipsy tiptoe across the hall, down the street, around the corner, to that new boo’s front door, in hopes of a late night canoodle. But it always amazes me when girls parlay this act into something real and tangible… and sober. That being said, how do you translate your skills of the drunken MOPO (make out peace out) to a sober situation?

I kid you not; this is something that I have found myself wondering constantly. Not that I am a total wino or anything, but in a city with sub-zero temperatures and the landscape of an arctic tundra, the easiest place to gather for warmth is a local watering hole. So, unsurprisingly, this is where you’re dressed to impress, feeling up for the challenge, and are surrounded by veritable sexual prey. However, at some point, you may end up actually enjoying the company of some of these people. What do you do when that happens? What do you do when you’re ready to actually see them in the harsh light of day, outside of a post-coital/pre-hungover bed?

Disclaimer: I refuse to discuss the people who have the ability to pick people up in class. These people do not need help. They have confidence for days and have no qualms with striking up a conversation, knowing that they are impossibly charming because they are taking the right classes, look the right way and caught the right eye. These people are not human, they are not like us and they do not need my help.

Back to business, here is my list of tactics that are harshly realistic but sometimes, just sometimes, work for me. Granted, I go for the kooks who watch just as much NBC as I do and will suffer through my turkey bacon.

“He definitely looked better last night…”

Morning Segue

I highly recommend engaging in some sort of activity the morning after you have a drunken hook-up to gauge whether that it is worth pursuing. Of course, this would lead most to assume sober/almost-hungover morning sex is the recipe to this. However, I have bad breath in the morning. He has bad breath in the morning. My make-up is running down my face and I know it. I know my shave isn’t nearly as close now. It’s just a mess, it’s sloppy and it’s not really showing anything to that other someone besides the fact that you like and can do sex with them.

My MO is breakfast. Literally cannot think of a better way to approach that awkward morning after. This method is a double-edged sword of advantage. First, you make breakfast for them, you chat, it’s all lovely and wonderful and now you’ve had breakfast in bed with someone who has touched your genitals within the last 12 hours and you didn’t hate it.

Two, you make breakfast for them, it’s great, but then it’s the perfect exit for the possibly significant other to leave. Why would they stay past breakfast? I get up at dawn, pretty much, so when a dude wants to sleep til 10, I will get up and send emails and go on a run and come back if they feel like sleeping. But it’s a lot less bizarre to make breakfast, eat together and send them on their merry way. This morning business segues from the awkward air of the dreaded “morning after” into actually talking and seeing if they are, in fact, as great as they seemed in the dim light of Chasers.

Mohammad from Manalapan 2

Strategic Texting

This one is the worst but arguably the most necessary point to discuss. Have you ever noticed that movies stray away from texting conversations or any other sort of digital technology to string along a romantic story line? It’s awkward, it involves so much crypticism and generally is the most unremarkable part of relating to that other person. But, admittedly, it is the easiest way to talk with that other person without being completely obtrusive.

The main points to understand here is that the timing, the length and the frequency of texts can never be truly dictated into a recipe because it is a case-by-case art. Of course, you wouldn’t want to send a novel, but that should be because that is annoying to write out. You wouldn’t want to send eight texts in a row, because that just looks unhinged to any recipient. And, honestly, it doesn’t matter when you send a response back – if you’re busy, they would understand. If you’re able to text back right away, that’s great.

Remember, if someone special sends you a text in the middle of the day, it only means one thing: they were thinking about you long enough to take time out of their day to tell you so. That is the most important part to remember. The strategy of texting lies not in the words you use, the execution of the message or even how quickly you read it (I see you, read receipts). The strategy is driven by when during the time between when you’ve seen that person last and you’ll see them next that you want to tell them, “Hey, I am thinking about you and you’re important enough to me right now to warrant a text.” If you’re thinking about them, and you have something to say, say it. The worst thing that can happen is that they won’t text back. I’ve received some of the dumbest things from guys via text, but it doesn’t matter how menial or silly it is – it shows that they were thinking about me enough to scroll through their phone and send me a message.

"I can't believe I told him I like this sh-t."
“I can’t believe I told him I like this sh-t.”

Brutal Honesty With Yourself

Biggest faux pas of the sober hook-up is pretending to be a different version of yourself in front of the person you want to be around sober. Do you have any idea how hard it is to suppress old Liz Lemon quotes when you’ve led someone to believe you aren’t that kind of person? If they suggest going to the zoo, and you respond with, “I want to go to there”, you should have been honest enough with them that they understand this would be normal for you to do.

The most destructive thing I’ve done to ruin a potential sober connection with someone was to indicate that I am in any way sporty or athletic. This person wanted to go on runs with me, because I boasted about the run I had gone on earlier that week. That was the only run I went on in July. I had to skirt around the issue, making me look so rude and aloof, that it eventually fizzled and died out. That was awful.

Be honest with who you are and what your personality is truly like, then the people who match that personality will gravitate toward you. But probably only because you’re acting out the Barry Gibb Talk Show skit with your roommate on the way to class.

Brutal Honesty With Sex

This is a massively important point of self-awareness. After a couple times of hooking up after being out, you’ll be trying to hang out sober. By that time, most adult women and men have already done something sexual with the other person, past making out (not trying to seem promiscuous, trying to be realistic – judgers, step to the left). At that point, you’ll have a decent idea of whether or not this is someone who is worth your time physically. If they have no idea what they’re doing with your bajingo but are smart and good-looking, are they really the kind of person you want to be with? If they are really incredible at cunnilingus but are just garbage at being a human being, are they worth your time?

Be realistic about what your physical expectations are with this person – you have standards; don’t hope that the person will rise to the occasion. Also, understand that this is something the other person will be thinking about as well. Understand that physicality is important and that honesty about that physicality will help guide you through your next liaison.

In summary, remember to be yourself in texting and in conversation, be realistic about how you work physically with that person, and (when in doubt) scramble some eggs.

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