In high school, dating was so simple. After gliding a few circles around the roller-skating rink and casting shy glances at your cutie, you knew whose hand you’d be holding when Boys II Men started playing. After that, we’d talk on the phone every day, hold hands in the hallway, and wear each other’s corsages to prom. No getting-to-know-each-other chats, no wondering if we’re just friends, no awkward morning-after breakfasts.
In college, things get complicated. The terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” vanish from our vocabularies. People who aren’t dating sleep together, hang out and cuddle. And cheating? That word is for divorcees with kids and pensions – it’s now totally acceptable to “see” five people at once.
Since dating is as elusive as a Smurf’s gender, the morning after sex is even more baffling. But if you analyze the morning awkwardness correctly, you might be able to figure out if last night was a hook-up or a second date. We’ve outlined five categories on the spectrum of morning-after behavior, because people are easier to understand with oversimplified, bold labels.
Sleeping Position: Embarrassingly close to the edge of the bed.
First Sentence: “When I spot you in the Tech Center, I duck into Starbucks faster then you came last night, even though I hate caffeinated beverages and John Mayer.”
Breakfast Preparation: None. They’re grabbing McDonald’s down the street.
Dating likelihood: Dating? You’ll be lucky if you’re still Facebook friends.
What to do: Shrug it off. The Darter is either a Catholic or alcoholic with guilt issues, and both require extensive rehabilitation programs. These neurotic messes are usually right out of a relationship and don’t know how to handle intimate interactions. Their heart strings are fried, so don’t take their icy reaction personally. And don’t worry about how awkward stat class will be – they’ve already dropped it.
The Fifth-Year Senior of One-Night Stands:
Sleeping position: Separate bed or room.
First Sentence: “I’ve got a 10 o’clock class. But if you want to chill here when I leave, there are extra towels by the shower, and the door locks itself.”
Breakfast Preparation: Any kind of granola cereal, bar or trail mix will suffice. Keep it light and energizing. Fifth-year seniors have a long week of promiscuity ahead of them.
Dating likelihood: Sure, if you want to share them with seven others.
What to do: Celebrate. These people know what they want and whom they want it from. You should feel honored. Now that you’re glowing, though, realize you’re not the only one they’re after. Feel free to be open and honest with them about what you’re feeling, but be prepared to hear it like it is. Last night was all business, so keep the goodbye at a handshake and ask them to pencil you in for next month.
Sleeping Position: Spoon or stealing-the-covers.
First Sentence: “Cuddle? Hell yeah. Don’t wanna cuddle? Hell yeah. Whatever, man.”
Breakfast Preparation: Toast is perfectly OK, with or without butter.
Dating likelihood: Who knows? They don’t even know who they are.
What to do: This person is simultaneously the easiest and hardest to understand. They’ll love you whether you’re breaking the bed or breaking their heart. But when it comes down to it, they just have no idea how to communicate. If you want the relationship to move forward, speak up: they won’t share their feelings unless you pry ‘em out of their cold, naked souls. Otherwise, feel free to fart under the sheets – they won’t say a peep.
Sleeping Position: Back-to-back, hands down your own pants.
First Sentence: “Sorry about last night. That doesn’t always happen, I swear. But, I made you eggs. Do you like bacon? Oh, you’re Jewish? I’ve got vegan, too.”
Breakfast Preparation: A four-course meal. Savor the fresh-squeezed orange juice – it’s the closest thing to passion you saw all night. Indulge yourself to replace that black hole of satisfaction you were hoping to fulfill.
Dating likelihood: They like you, but did you like their clumsy tongue?
What to do: Stop sleeping with 17-year-olds. Or, if you have a short attention span and like it quick ’n’ dirty, keep in touch. This isn’t a bad person to date: they care enough to apologize and give you a SEPTA token on the way out. Then again, you might want to pass this novice on to a friend who can teach them a few naughty tricks. By the time they’re well-versed in sensual delights, they’ll actually be legal.
Sleeping Position: Smothered.
First Sentence: “So, what are you doing tonight? How about we get Mexican, rent Shop Girl and cuddle up on the couch?”
Breakfast Preparation: Hopefully, you packed your Sunday best, because the dater is taking you someplace fancy for brunch.
Dating likelihood: Wake up, you lush/pothead/socially-inept wreck. You’re already dating.
What to do: The backrub, eye contact and poetry weren’t ploys to get you into bed. They were spells to win your heart. So be honest. If you’re more of a darter than a dater, the relationship isn’t going to work. And don’t try to booty-call them, either. It’s way past being casual. Better yet, pass ‘em our way – we’re starting to think the dater is rarer than a dinosaur.
Brian Kirk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holly Otterbein can be reached at email@example.com.