Greg Storms’ friends still tease him about the time he drank too much and landed in some guy’s lair. The morning after was weird, especially when Storms realized how much his one-night stand looked like Skeletor.
The 27-year-old, who lives in Ann Arbor, doesn’t mix booze and sex anymore, but he’s definitely not opposed to some “no strings attached” romps.
“I have had pretty good experiences, luckily, with NSA hook-ups,” Storms says. “For a long time, after getting out of a really bad relationship, I didn’t want to date at all – just have some fun for the time being. As long as the person seemed decent, attractive and wasn’t looking for anything more than sex – and possible friendship – I was cool with that.”
Two movies this year – “No Strings Attached,” out now, and “Friends with Benefits,” releasing this summer and starring “Black Swan” actress Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake – explore the hook-up dynamic, where sex is simply sex and nothing else. But do they work? Are they – assuming there aren’t more Skeletors in the area – dangerous?
Nationally known psychotherapist and author Joe Kort, who practices in Royal Oak, is all for them. “People are seeing what people used to do didn’t work, and they’re making up their own rules,” Kort says. “They’re like, ‘This works for me better than what should work for me.’ They’re getting rid of the ‘should.’ It’s almost like, ‘Fuck what I should do; I’ll do what feels right to me.’ And I think it’s great.”
Storms has met guys online for a quickie, but he prefers a regular “friends with benefits” deal where he knows more about who he’s sleeping with. First of all, it’s safer in terms of STDs, but also, he says, far more comforting to know where he’ll wake up in the morning.
“NSA situations work for me because I’m a very sexually liberal person,” he says. “I am a staunch advocate of sexual rights and sexual freedom, and I don’t believe that a long-term, monogamous relationship is what everybody needs to be sexually satisfied.”
Based on new evidence Kort shares, it isn’t.
“The truth is we’re not wired for monogamy,” he says. “What we’re seeing now in the therapeutic world is that monogamy is a long-term experiment.
“It doesn’t mean we can’t choose it, and it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have it. But to do it takes a lot of work that even in the days when you get your head chopped off for having affairs, people were still having affairs and getting their heads chopped off. So we know now that that’s not how we’re wired, and that’s why I think NSA works, because it’s natural. It’s a natural type of relationship.”
Even for birds, apparently. Kort explains that for so long our feathered friends were known for being monogamous, that scientists thought the male bird was just gathering materials for the nest. Turns out, according to Kort, birds are sluts. “We’ve just discovered in the last few years that when the male bird is going out to get stuff for the nest, he’s fucking around on her.”
Not everyone, however, can fly from nest to nest. Takara Tuff can’t. It works, she says, because she’s juggling two jobs and a relationship wouldn’t fit into her busy schedule, but that lovin’ feeling always gets in the way.
“NSA agreements seem to start off smoothly,” the 25-year-old Detroiter says, “but being a lesbian, it’s only natural our emotions eventually intervene, causing it to go downhill. They never last.”
No wonder: Females aren’t built for hook-ups, and science says so. According to Kort, testosterone in men overpowers oxytocin, a drug that’s released during sex in both genders, which allows them to detach after intercourse. “It explains why men can do it,” and then cut the strings, Kort says. Women, though, risk a greater chance of falling for their partner.
Kort’s keys to “no strings attached” success include immediately calling off such arrangements if mushy feelings start to flourish. “You’re done,” he says. “You don’t nurture those. Also, if there are too many disagreements or conflicts, it’s over because now you’re starting to move toward a relationship.”
Garrett Fairbanks of South Lyon gave up hook-ups all together after they ruined two of his closest friendships. A third NSA arrangement ended just as badly.
“They all ended up not working because there were more and more distrust issues on both sides,” says the 21-year-old, who’s been monogamously partnered for five years. “Past mistakes of NSA helped me realize and find a real committed relationship.”
Fairbanks says jealousy tore into his “friends with benefits” relations, and his preference to devote himself to a single person wasn’t met with the get-some-and-go plan.
The freedom to screw around with whomever was nice, but “after a while it got boring, because with NSA, there wasn’t a return of any affection at all – nothing to look forward to,” Fairbanks says. “NSA is a really cold way to enjoy other people, and I never ended up talking to the NSA guys ever again.”
They’re also ravaging in other ways, says Kort. “It can be damaging if they ultimately want a relationship and they don’t have any practice on what it looks like to go beyond the honeymoon – the beginning,” he says. “Because once the honeymoon is over, once the newness of NSAs is over, they’re done. They move onto the next.”
Kort sees people just into sex as lacking motivation to work at a relationship, but not necessarily as a sign of “attachment disorder.” Storms, who’s currently in an open one, sometimes wants a boyfriend, and sometimes just wants to get off.
“NSA works best if somebody really doesn’t want to get into the power struggle of a relationship – the conflicts, the mundane,” Kort says. “There are a lot of people who don’t want that.”
Just like some people don’t want to wake up to Skeletor.