I’ve become pretty disenchanted with relationships, but I really like the physical aspects of dating. Is it OK to just hook up with people until I feel more confident about who I am and whom I’m looking to spend the rest of my life with? —Lily E., Decatur, Alabama
The rest of your life, girl, damn! That sounds like a lot of years that you’ll be spending with this potential future boat o’ dreams. I imagine that it will take a WHILE to find somebody worthy of so much of your time. I also imagine that you will sometimes feel the great urge to attach your mouth/body to the mouths/bodies of others during this waiting period. (I imagine this because it’s exactly what you wrote. Pretty perceptive of me, I know. Bring me your hardest advice questions and I’m pretty much guaranteed to spew out all manner of beautiful insights like this.)
Before we get into the ostensible matter at hand (and mouth/body) here, allow me to address the REAL Just Wondering that you hid in this question all coy, like, “This is the idea I really want someone to talk to me about, the soulmate thing, but I’ve been let down before, so I’m gonna couch it in this lascivious ’n’ devil-may-care sex query, lest people think I am a herb who wants to feel a thing.”
Look, dude. I absolutely believe in true love. It’s the thing I believe in maybe above all other things in life—you can find it in friendships, in artwork, in sunny pockets of the afternoon where you just feel lucky to be hanging out in the world, and, of course, in romantic partners. I wonder if I could ever spend my whole life with someone, if they were dope enough. Probably. I also think I could, and will, spend stretches of my time on earth with other long-term partners, exploring, you know, the “physical aspects of dating” (YOW). It’s OK to believe in, like, Plato’s Symposium thing, where the playwright Aristophanes talks about how we’re all half-people casting about for the missing double that will complete the erector set of our selves—it’s the theory that everyone has a missing partner that fits them perfectly, in all places, like wearing a flawless bodycon dress but better, since it’s UNDYING, WHOLE, ENDLESSLY ROMANTIC LOVE. That’s like at least 12 flawless bodycon dresses, in terms of feeling good, probably.
Of course, it’s fine to not believe in a one and only. And you don’t have to pretend—and I’m not saying you’re doing this here, but others reading it might be, and I did it myself, once upon a time—that you do believe if you don’t. In my pre-18 years, I used “not having met the right person” as an excuse for wanting to put my mouth/body to extensive, diverse work because I didn’t want people to think I was a skank (no such animal, by the way): “I just haven’t found the THE ONE! That’s why I have to make out with this incredible-looking bohunk/Betty whose chest I’m already groping! SIGH!” Just kiss (or whatever) him/her/them, darling-thing. You don’t have to explain a thing to anybody. It’s five thousand percent fine.
I guess this brings us to the body encasing the heart of your question: Yes. Make out with whomever you like. Just make sure you’re doing it because you want to, not because you feel like you’re supposed to or like you’re rotting away for not being with someone you actually adore instead of whatever rando is around to make you feel like you’re “normal” for being Young Person Having Kiss Experience! High School Party!
Since you mentioned building confidence, I’m gonna mention it too (those incredible advice-giving instincts kicking in again, I know, PayPal me a high five or something): The phrase “until I feel more confident about who I am” seems to me to be an expression of almost terrifyingly on-point acumen in re: understanding that you need room, as a young person, to grow and shred at will, and that sometimes that process involves experimental games of TONSIL HOCKAY. If this is what you meant, I should be PayPal-ing you, because that’s amazing, and: yes. BUT. If you meant “until I hook up with enough people that I feel ready to settle down without some sense of missing out on a broader spectrum of bods and babes”…HA, just kidding, that’s also totally fine! Do it up. Wait, wait, though: On a serious note, if you’re saying that you need to hook up with people IN ORDER to be confident that you are an attractive, rad person, that’s where I cock my head a little. You don’t. You already are. I know you know that—I’m just making sure. (And if you don’t know it, GET TO KNOWING IT, SERIOUSLY.)
Anyway, I love you a lot, and I’m wrapping up, but finally, it doesn’t sound like you’re all that “disenchanted with relationships” from where I’m typing this to you (empty bathtub—long story). Based on the last part of your question—that “rest of my life with” business—it sounds like you believe in true love just as fervently and ferociously as I do. You will find amazing people everywhere, if you make yourself available to them—people who will hang for the short-term (HOOKIN’ UP, HOOKER!!! WOO) and the long-term (Aristophanes, if you want). Do whatever you feel is right, and OF COURSE it’s OK so long as you’re safe and respectful of yourself and other people. I’m sorry if someone hurt you, or something. Fuck that person, for real, and you can tell them I said it. Now go have a great time. Yes! —Amy Rose