5/14/10
Dear Em & Lo – What's Between a Boyfriend and a Booty Call?

photo by balinto

Dear Em & Lo,

Not too long ago I was in a committed relationship with a great guy. However, he wanted to be a bigger part of my life than I was really hoping for, and we ended up breaking up because of it. I’m nineteen, in college, and figuring my own life out. I know a booty call isn’t for me, yet neither is full blown let’s-be-together-always relationship. At the end of the day I don’t want a boyfriend, but I don’t want to give up intimacy altogether.

When I told this to my ex he said that people don’t have relationships like that, and later all of my girlfriends concurred. Can I have a casual intimate relationship while remaining independent? Is there even such a thing as a zero-calories relationship? And how can I tell a guy that this is what I want?

— Free(ish) Bird

Dear F.B.,

First of all, we think your ex was seriously over-defining the term boyfriend. The whole let’s-be-together-always is for fiances and spouses. Sure, we understand that some people find it depressing to be in a serious long-term relationship if they know it’s going to end at some point. But that’s your boyfriend’s problem for pushing the issue. Nobody should have to decide at age 19 what they’re going to do or who they’re going to be with for the rest of their life. Of course you were going to push him away. We’d have slapped you around like Cher in Moonstruck if you’d even considered making a permanent relationship decision at your age.

So we think you shouldn’t necessarily discount the role a decent boyfriend could play in your life. Trust us, most college-aged boyfriends will be more than happy to avoid discussing your long-term future together and will be more than happy to take things one date at a time.

As for your girlfriends. Um, are you from the deep South by any chance? Are they all sorority sisters who are going to college for their MRS degree? Whatever it is, they’re just plain wrong. How are you supposed to figure out who you want to marry if you’re not allowed to have relationships that might not go anywhere? The wrong relationships teach us so much about what we want and deserve out of the right relationship.

So, keep on dating. Go ahead and make someone your boyfriend if you really take a shine to him. And know that all it means to be someone’s boyfriend is that you like each other’s company and you’re not going to enjoy anyone else’s company for the duration of that relationship. Not for the duration of your life. This is college we’re talking about, not some kind of marital boot camp!

If you still find the whole boyfriend concept too stifling, you could experiment with a little casual intimacy — think of it as a booty call with spooning. But we’ll warn you: It’s tricky to pull off and can easily break hearts. Still interested? Check out these two recent posts we wrote about it:

On a final note, thank you, thank you, thank you for proving to us that things aren’t quite as Mars-vs.-Venus on college campuses as some people would have you believe. You’re a living, breathing counter-argument. Which might not be quite as sexy as getting to snuggle with someone who’s more than a booty call and less than a boyfriend — but, hey, it’s something!

— Em & Lo

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7 Comments on "Dear Em & Lo – What's Between a Boyfriend and a Booty Call?"

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Stephanie
Stephanie
5 years 9 months ago
“If you still find the whole boyfriend concept too stifling, you could experiment with a little casual intimacy — think of it as a booty call with spooning. But we’ll warn you: It’s tricky to pull off and can easily break hearts.” This comment really, really, really should be paid attention to. This type of situation, which I’ve heard described as “Intimacy Lite” is like walking the tight rope. With one misstep to either side, you wind up either falling in love or falling to a broken heart (and they usually go hand-in-hand). Not only have I been through a… Read more »
black iris
black iris
6 years 5 days ago
From her letter, I’m not sure if FreeBird was saying her boyfriend wanted to be together for always or if he wanted to be spend more time with her than she wanted. As far as for always goes, I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship where it was agreed that we definitely wouldn’t be together for always, but I’m sure that at 19 I wouldn’t have wanted to commit to forever. If she’s talking about how much time she wants to spend with him, it’s hard to know without knowing more about what exactly they each wanted. Maybe she… Read more »
Em & Lo
6 years 6 days ago
Apologies if our deep south comment offended — it was a cheap joke. In our defense, we’ve been on the negative end of some deep south attitude — not that this makes it right to stereotype and generalize, of course: Frat boys (and sorority gals) in the north-east can be close-minded idiots, too. Oh, ok, and sometimes students outside the Greek system act like that, too. 🙂 Btw, Michelle, all our deep south friends tell us that Florida doesn’t have the deep-south attitude that its surrounding states do… it’s sort of like an Austin in the middle of Texas. But… Read more »
Gabbi
Gabbi
6 years 6 days ago
Aside from casual dating, the spectrum between full-blown boyfriend and booty call is huge and varied and exciting! You are right, some of it takes an added level of self-awareness and honesty, but the payoff can be grand. I spent several years of my life cultivating “long-term flings,” and now that I am in a committed long-term relationship, the intimacies that grew slowly and intermittently with those flings have blossomed into some wonderful friendships. It’s true, I did experience insecurities and confusion about what I really wanted, what he really wanted, whether we were just using each other or really… Read more »
Ash
Ash
6 years 6 days ago

I am really irked by the “deep south” comment.
I am an avid Em&Lo reader but this is disappointing. I have a master’s degree (no MRS yet). I also relate quite a bit with “Free(ish) Bird” and was very interested to see the reply… I also happen to be from Lafayette, Louisiana.

Mar
Mar
6 years 7 days ago

I’m from Texas and in a sorority. I can honestly say that you are not that far off in your comment about Southern girls. Even the girls that are in graduate school with me fall into the stereotype. It doesn’t bother me though because I accept it and actually enjoy growing up with a more traditional baackground.

Michelle
Michelle
6 years 10 days ago
I think the deep South comment is completely unecessary. I live in Florida and am completly tired of these stereotypes that the media places on us. Yes, many women down here marry after having very few serious relationship. But maybe its because we know what we want and don’t feel the need to be in a long realtionship that won’t go anywhere? I’m just surprised that both of you would further spew that garbage stereotype when so many of your articles are bout acceptance and equality… Anyways, I think the issue may just be the guy. I wanted the same… Read more »
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