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Sex + Relationships

Double the Trouble: What to Do When You’re Hooking Up With More Than One Guy

Sex (or lack thereof), relationships (or their twisted, unhealthy counterparts) and anything having to do with love (or other suppressed, romantic feelings) are controversial topics – ones that collegiettes™ will never totally agree upon. And why bother trying? It’s like attempting to explain the benefits of Facebook or Twitter to your grandmother – pointless.

Nevertheless, we’ve always tried to break it down for you, whether you’ve agreed or not. We’ve demystified vibrators. We’ve helped you deal with betrayal. We’ve clued you in to how guys really feel about those tips you’re getting from Cosmo. And now we’ll delve into yet another of the all-too-common sticky, messy, hotly debated subjects in the realm of love: hooking up with more than one guy.

But, let’s preface this nitty gritty conversation by clarifying the situation. This is not your “first two months of college” phase, mackin’ on a different hottie every weekend. We’re talking two or more guys, consistently, over the same period of time. It seems many college girls have turned – or, perhaps, confused – casual dating with casually hooking up.

See? We told you. It’s sticky and messy, so let’s hotly debate it.
Keep reading as we answer the most pressing questions about the topic, on everything from whether there is a double standard in the world of hooking up to the reasons behind why girls are doing it. Plus, transformational dating and relationship coach Lisa Shield shares her insights on these tricky situations.
Guys vs. Girls: Is there a double standard?
If this were HisCampus instead of Her Campus, this discussion might never be had. But, ladies, it’s time to face the music. We’re held to an awful double standard in many aspects of our lives, only furthered by stereotypes that have been created. Still, let’s advocate objectivity – guys are subjected to their fair share of labels, too.

One stereotype is that a guy will do anything to hit it and quit it, while the feelings of his latest conquest(s) are irrelevant. Yet there are still a great few that would balk at the idea of hooking up with two gals at the same time. But these split mentalities surely exist within the ladies, too. So, the question remains: is there a double standard?
“I definitely think there is,” says Danai, a student at Harvard. “If a guy hooks up with a bunch of girls, he’s the man, but if a girl does it, she’s a skanky ho.” Labels are thrown so much quicker and stick so much longer on a girl than on a guy.
There’s also the double standard that guys can sleep around with whomever they want and not get attached while girls can’t. But that’s not only a double standard in the minds of college guys and girls; it’s scientific!
“Women have a hormone called oxytocin that causes them to bond emotionally with men they are having sex with,” Shield says. “It is almost inevitable that most women will get attached in these situations. It doesn’t work.” Whether or not we’re predisposed to become attached more easily, many girls still go there.

Why do we do it?

Girls consistently hook up with multiple guys for a slew of reasons (though it’s certainly not fair to pin them on each one who’s ever done so). Maybe a select few really are just out to have a good time. They don’t have the feelings to transform either relationship into something intimate, so they keep hooking up with more than one guy. But as Shield has discovered, “Very few women have the ability to have sex with someone without feeling some sort of emotional connection to the man.”

Hooking up as a means of waiting for him to develop emotional feelings in return, though, is a disaster waiting to happen. While the movies may glorify sex and its powers as a way to make a man fall in love, few long-lasting relationships start with a casual hook-up. “Learn to share your head before you share your bed,” says Shield. “Take this time to learn how to create emotional intimacy with a partner, not just sexual intimacy. Otherwise, you might wake up in your late 30s or 40s and wonder why you’re still single.”
Erica, a student at the University of Michigan, sees hooking up with multiple guys as a thrill but also as a form of emotional protection. “When I was hooking up with multiple guys at once, it was great getting texts from both of them and being able to choose whom I was in the mood to see that day,” she says. “But if one of the guys moves on to another girl, you’ve still got someone else.”

What if I want more?
If you want to take things to the next level with one of your guys, tell him, but be prepared for an answer you may not like. Despite any double standards, and despite any of your reasons for participating in an ongoing casual hook-up, you should not string yourself along or allow him to string you along. Shield advises saying something like, “I really like being with you, and I’d like to spend more time with you if you’re open to that.”
If it turns out this guy wants to spend more time with you, too, make sure to break it off with the other guy or guys in your life (or, more specifically, in your bed). If you didn’t, you would be venturing into cheating territory, and that’s not good for anyone.

What if he wants more and I’m not interested?
Remember the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If you entered the hook-up with this guy to have fun rather than to become emotionally involved, don’t get sucked into the drama of pretending to care about him. “There’s not much worse than lying to him,” says Danai.
“If you don’t want a relationship, say, ‘I enjoy having a sexual relationship. That’s what we agreed on, and I’m not really looking for a serious commitment at this time,’” says Shield.
Your best option may be to just make a clean break and find a new guy. This guy’s feelings will most likely not go away as you continue to hook up, so you’d be doing him and yourself a favor by just ending it.

How do I let him know there is more than one guy?
If you don’t care to keep things a secret – scratch that, actively don’t want to keep things secret – then be straightforward with all of the guys. Before the next time you hook up, say something along the lines of, “I’ve been having a really great time with you, but I’m not looking for anything exclusive right now. Are you feeling the same way?”
Realize that you’re running the risk of him declining any future hook-ups. But if that’s the case, you’re doing him a favor by letting him know now rather than having him find out later and getting upset.
How do I make sure he never finds out?
The answer is simple: don’t blab your conquests to everyone you encounter. Even if you don’t tell people you’re hooking up with two or more guys, there are other ways for word to get around.

Shannon* from California State University, Long Beach says, “Don’t date his friends, don’t talk about other guys in front of him, and don’t get in the habit of conversing with either guy via text.” Aside from texting, the many other technological pastimes we have at our fingertips are just accidents waiting to happen. If he leaves a flirty comment on your Facebook wall or someone tweets a picture of you two looking awfully cuddly, you can probably kiss everyone else goodbye.
“The nature of this is that girls don’t want guys to figure out what they are doing. The double standard in that is inherent,” Shield reminds us. “If you are behaving in a way that you don’t want other people to know about, you should look at the behavior and ask if this is really what you want to be doing.”

To hook up or not to hook up – that’s the real question.
Maybe you will try it, and maybe you won’t (or maybe you already have!). But the most important thing to remember is to be safe, physically and emotionally. Hooking up with more than one guy can be fun, exhilarating even, but if you’re hooking up with more than one guy, there’s a big chance he is hooking up with more than one person, too. And if one of the other girls captures his heart, your emotions could catch up to you – leaving you heartbroken.
There can also be serious repercussions if you aren’t protected (in the more obvious way). Do your part and make sure your guys are doing theirs. If you aren’t his only hook-up buddy, you can’t account for what the other girls are bringing to the bedroom. As your gym teachers, your overbearing aunts and numerous PSAs have told you many a time, “No glove, no love.”

*Name and school has been changed.
Lisa Shield, Transformational Dating and Relationship Coach [link: http://www.lisashield.com/index.php]
Real College Girls

Sarah Weinberg is a student at San Diego State University, Class of 2012. She is attempting to overcome her aversion to multitasking as she pursues courses in Liberal Studies, Spanish, and Journalism. Sarah has always been interested in the “behind-the-scenes” aspects of the fashion and lifestyle industry with journalism being a prominent prospective path. Now, much of the time that she should spend working on homework and writing papers is instead spent pouring through magazines and lusting over ridiculously priced shoes, impeccably styled pictorials, and the glamorous lifestyles of the cover models. It isn’t unusual to find Sarah baking (anything with a large amount of chocolate), traveling (last stop: summer abroad in Granada, Spain), playing in her closet (never too old to play dress up), or hanging out with friends and family (how cute and cliché). She is currently a Style Guru for CollegeFashionista.com and is thrilled to become a writer for Her Campus.
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