Swipe Right Into A Real Re­la­tion­ship

YOU MIGHT THINK IT’S JUST A CA­SUAL HOOK-UP – BUT SCI­ENCE SAYS THE CHANCES ARE GOOD IT COULD TURN INTO MUCH MORE.

Men's Health (Singapore) - - RELATIONSHIP -

WWhen Tyler Holmes first met Tori McDonough on Tin­der, he wasn’t look­ing for a long-term re­la­tion­ship. They’d flirted for a few months be­fore McDonough had asked him out to din­ner at a Mex­i­can restaurant. “We’d agreed ahead of time that this was just go­ing to be a gen­eral meet-up, so we could gauge in­ter­est first and make sure nei­ther of us were se­rial killers,” says Holmes, 28, an en­gi­neer and pole dance in­struc­tor in Seat­tle. “The idea was to move to­wards some­thing ca­sual, but there was no in­ten­tion of any­thing hap­pen­ing this first meet-up.”

The night they met, McDonough walked into the restaurant wear­ing a Tardis dress, a ref­er­ence to the cult classic Doc­tor Who. For Holmes, a fel­low Doc­tor Who fan, it was an ob­vi­ous sign they had a lot in common.

Af­ter din­ner, they grabbed ice cream and went back to his place to watch Penny Dread­ful. That night, they slept to­gether for the first time and dis­cov­ered they had strong sex­ual chem­istry.

They con­tin­ued to have sex for the next four months, un­til one day, Holmes re­alised he’d de­vel­oped feel­ings for McDonough. At first, he was caught off-guard. This wasn’t what ei­ther of them had ex­pected.

“We were spend­ing so much time to­gether and talk­ing more about our­selves and our lives, just even out­side of go­ing to each other’s places and bang­ing around for awhile, that I think it just steadily de­vel­oped in the back­ground with­out ei­ther of us re­al­is­ing it,” Holmes says. They’ve been dat­ing ever since.

Dat­ing a one-night stand might seem coun­ter­in­tu­itive. In the age of Tin­der and Bum­ble, it’s never been eas­ier to have ca­sual sex, and for many, the pur­pose of such apps is to hook up with mul­ti­ple peo­ple with no strings at­tached.

But in many cases, ca­sual sex can lead to some­thing more se­ri­ous. While there’s no re­li­able data to sug­gest how of­ten this ac­tu­ally hap­pens, ac­cord­ing to bi­o­log­i­cal an­thro­pol­o­gist He­len Fisher, as many as 30 per­cent of re­la­tion­ships have started out as one-night stands.

More­over, while cul­tural stereotypes sug­gest that men are more likely to pur­sue onenight stands than women, re­search in­di­cates that the truth is more com­pli­cated. In fact, men are three times more likely to want to turn a onenight stand into a re­la­tion­ship, ac­cord­ing to Match’s an­nual Sin­gles in Amer­ica sur­vey.

One rea­son for this phe­nom­e­non? Peo­ple who are play­ing the field may still be sub­con­sciously look­ing for a good part­ner, some­one who’s “a cut above the rest,” Grant Langston, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of eHar­mony, told Men’s Health. The Match sur­vey also in­di­cated that men are 43 per­cent more likely to be­lieve that sex helps to build a strong emo­tional con­nec­tion, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it: Hav­ing ca­sual sex right off the bat ar­guably makes it eas­ier to build a strong emo­tional con­nec­tion with some­one, be­cause you’ve al­ready bro­ken through a ma­jor com­fort barrier (for ex­am­ple, see­ing the other per­son naked).

“You al­ready know how that per­son is in bed. As you get to know each other, it’s just go­ing to get bet­ter from there and you have more feel­ings. You can ac­tu­ally get to know this per­son,” Sameera Sul­li­van, a men’s match­maker based in Man­hat­tan, told Men’s Health.

While dif­fer­ent fac­tors like luck, tim­ing and com­pat­i­bil­ity ob­vi­ously play a role in whether a one-night stand can evolve into some­thing more, some might ar­gue that hu­man bi­ol­ogy pre­dis­poses us to de­vel­op­ing deeper feel­ings for some­one we have sex with only once.

While much has been writ­ten about the role that oxy­tocin, or the “bond­ing hor­mone,” plays in de­vel­op­ing feel­ings of post-coital at­tach­ment, hav­ing sex also in­creases the level of dopamine in our brains, which can also act as a “bond­ing agent,” Langston says.

That said, not ev­ery­one is in­ter­ested in a re­la­tion­ship, and some peo­ple might gen­uinely only be us­ing hook-up apps to pur­sue some­thing ca­sual and short­term. Al­though it’s not un­com­mon for a one-night stand to turn into a re­la­tion­ship or­gan­i­cally, it’s im­por­tant to note that if you start de­vel­op­ing feel­ings for your part­ner be­yond sex­ual at­trac­tion, they might not be on the same page. That’s why it’s im­por­tant to be open about your feel­ings right off the bat. Holmes says hav­ing low ex­pec­ta­tions al­lowed him and McDonough to es­tab­lish a level of trust with­out tack­ing on pressure to make things work. “From the start, there was a great amount of open­ness and hon­esty,” he says. “It felt like it was go­ing to be some­thing tem­po­rary, so it was easy to just kind of lay out wants and needs early.”

So can re­la­tion­ships that started out as ca­sual flings ac­tu­ally last? Mark Black, who’s been mar­ried to his wife Mary for 29 years, says ab­so­lutely.

In true When Harry Met Sally fash­ion, the Blacks met twice — once when Mark was 20 and spot­ted Mary on a beach, and then again five years later at a broom­ball tour­na­ment. They started talk­ing and even­tu­ally be­gan a ca­sual re­la­tion­ship. Mark had al­ready been di­vorced once, and was “dead set” against getting mar­ried ever again. But the more time he spent with Mary, the more he de­vel­oped feel­ings for her.

“Af­ter we got to­gether, it was like I didn’t have that de­sire to go out and see or date other girls any­more,” says Mark, 57. “I was thinking, ‘This girl is sat­is­fy­ing all my wants and de­sires, and we get along great. I don’t know how I can do any bet­ter.’”

So how do you ac­tu­ally know if a one-night stand is the real deal? If you’re hav­ing amaz­ing sex sev­eral times dur­ing a onenight stand but you don’t have much to say to each other af­ter­wards, that’s a good sign it’s just lust, Sul­li­van says. But if you’re con­nect­ing and en­joy­ing each other’s com­pany both be­fore and af­ter sex, there might be some­thing deeper there that’s worth ex­plor­ing.

Langston says: “The best way to un­der­stand if a per­son is a good part­ner for you is to see them in a lot of dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stance. You want to see this per­son af­ter a bad day and af­ter a great day. You want to see this per­son af­ter they’ve had too much to drink and when they’re bored. You want to have as many data points as you can get.”

IF YOU’RE CON­NECT­ING AND EN­JOY­ING EACH OTHER’S COM­PANY BOTH BE­FORE AND AF­TER SEX, THERE MIGHT BE SOME­THING DEEPER THERE THAT’S WORTH EX­PLOR­ING.

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