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A couple months ago, I had met a guy through some friends, and we went for tea (tea shops are big in L.A. these days). We hit it off, but it took a while for us to go out again because we were both traveling. A few months later, though, we reconnected. We caught up on our travels and talked about exciting work projects. I was having a great time.

That is, until he kissed me.

A kiss, I usually don’t mind. But he also got really handsy really fast. I stopped kissing him and said I was not interested in going “that far.” He looked at me and said, “What is this? The 1900s?” I explained to him that we had only seen each other twice, and he said, “You did make me wait for, like, four months.”

In that moment, I wish I’d had more gumption. I should have asked him to leave. Instead I explained to him, for clarity’s sake, that I actually liked him and would like to see him again rather than just hook up. When he left, he said that he would talk to me soon. He never called, and the next time I ran into him, he gave me some strange nod. Shocker.

Years ago, I might have followed his lead. In fact, I followed many guys right down the road to hangout-ville. But, after far too many uncommitted hookups, I finally learned that this kind of arrangement was never going to lead to a fulfilling relationship. I know all the things women tell themselves to convince themselves that hanging out and hooking up with a guy is worth it—because I told them to myself as well. Here are four truths about hooking up and hanging out I learned the hard way.

01. Commitment is never the result.

When I was younger, I really thought that if I could just be super-chill and fun to be around, the guy I was hanging out with would eventually ask me to be his girlfriend. Turns out, I was giving him exactly what he wanted, and he had to make no effort to be there for me as a boyfriend would. Not once (and unfortunately it took me way too many tries to get this one through my brain) did a hookup/hangout guy turn into a real boyfriend.

02. Physicality is fleeting.

I’m like every other woman; I just want to be loved. I want someone to give me attention and spend time with me. But too many times I mistook the physical attention that I was receiving as love. The good feelings were nice at the time, but then it never lasted long because it wasn’t true love—it was just a chemical high. I would waste so much time and energy wondering when or if he would want to hang out again so that I could feel it again. Now I know that real love requires commitment, not a kiss.

03. Someone always gets hurt.

Most of the time, I was on the side of the fence longing for more, but there have been cases where I was on the other side, too. This guy was once super into me and I knew it, but I didn’t see it going anywhere. I did, however, love the attention he gave me. We hung out all the time and had a lot of fun together, but I made sure he knew we were only friends. He, on the other hand, always held out hope that I would come around and fall for him. In the end, I hurt him really badly, and I still think about the pain that I caused. No matter how often you tell yourself it’s just a hookup thing, it doesn’t change the fact that someone always gets hurt, even if it’s not you.

04. Other men will notice.

My senior year of high school, I was nominated for prom queen, which was sweet and all, but no boy would ask me to go to the dance. Afterward I asked a classmate of mine why no one asked me to prom. I still remember him telling me, “I would have asked you, but we all thought you were dating that one guy still.” I still want to kick myself because “that one guy” and I were just hanging out, and I didn’t even know that people at school knew about him. I spent so much time being sad about no one asking me out, but the real problem was that I was putting out the wrong message. Dating in the adult world is no different. Guys watch the way you behave with other guys, and if it looks romantic, chances are they are going to keep their distance.

I have spent way too many nights of my life shedding tears over men who never promised me anything more than a cuddle partner on the couch. But what I realized later is that at least when committed relationships don’t work out, I know that I am feeling heartbroken over a man who invested in me rather than being broken up over a guy who never considered me anything more than a filler in the first place.

Photo Credit: Benjamin Giesbrecht