college relationships: friends with benefits, open relationships, and never-ending ambiguities

Gay boys at college have it easier than almost any other demographic of gays. They are surrounded by attractive guys their own age with lots of opportunities to meet them and hang out. Worse comes to worse they also have Grindr and dorm rooms. However, while we college can somewhat easily get a hookup (if we desire to), it is nearly impossible to find an actual boyfriend for a legitimate, serious, exclusive relationship that will last.

When I got to college I was so excited that is was easy to hookup with other guys: parties, shows, Grindr, facebook, and other school-specific websites for hookups and anonymous compliments–there were tons of outlets to meet gays. So my first year that’s what I did.

But sometimes I would repeatedly hookup with the same guy. We would become friends with benefits (FWB). Each fwb was different. Some would have real conversation with me. Other would only text for booty calls. There were no strings attached, no expectations. There was just a lot of sex, a lot of condoms, and a lot lube.

But there is always a large danger in a friends with benefits situation: developing feelings. This can be fatal because usually the other person only wants something causal. This is especially true at college, where seemingly everyone “isn’t looking for anything serious right now.” So be cautious about fwbs, and know that feelings can be fatal.

Open relationships are another odd trend for college students. Here you are in a relationship with another person, but you are still “open” and free to hookup with other people. This can be seen as the modern relationship sensibility or as the trend of college students being unable to commit. Either way, this type of relationship is void of exclusisivity. All I can say on this subject is that although open relationships seem theoretically great (I still have a loving boyfriend to snuggle but I can still go sleep with the hot guy at the party tonight), in reality they usually lead to jealous and fights (“you slept with him? Was he better than me?”).

However, the most prevalent type of relationship for college kids, and gay guys especially, is the vague, undefined relationship: you see each other a lot, you hookup, you talk about real things, you have some feelings for each other, you go out to eat (or at least go to the dining hall together)… but you never use the words “boyfriend,” “relationship,” or “exclusive.” Sadly, this is what is most popular, mainly because guys are too afraid to have “the relationship talk.”

But this is a conversation that needs to happen. Don’t be afraid to say “so what are we? Where are we going?” Yes, I know, this is very scary. Yes, I know, he may say “nothing” and run away scared. But then again he may say “I want to be your boyfriend.” Either way, you deserve to know.

Undefined relationships can be stressful, painful, overly emotional, and not healthy for anyone involved. If you want to be casual, be casual; if you want to be exclusive, be exclusive; if you want to be open, be open; if you want to break up, break up—but say something! Communication is very important when forming a relationship of any kind, so just make sure you tell your guy what you want. Regardless of whether it’s a hookup or a soulmate, let him know what you’re looking for, because in the long run it will help a lot to know where you both stand.