Zara Barrie

I was sitting in her apartment at 2:30 pm in the afternoon of a lazy Sunday. We were shooting the sh*t as per usual, gossiping about people we didn’t particularly care for.

I was lamenting about how the underwire of my bra was poking into my skin. I removed it and tossed it on the couch.

We kept on talking. We talked in that beautifully effortless, stream-of-conscious, wildly uncensored way only close friends can.

A glass of rosé was poured. There is nothing better than drinking rosé in the air conditioning, braless on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

We were amidst that lovely sweet spot that exists after an indulgent brunch but before the pending stresses of the looming workweek invade the surface of your brain.

It’s that fleeting, glorious moment when the hangover has mostly subsided but the pesky Sunday scaries haven’t quite set in yet.

“So… I’ve got a date later,” she said to me. She fluttered her eyelashes and stared down at her incoming text messages. Her lips curled into that smug “a boy likes me” smile, exclusive to single heterosexual girls in their 20s.

“Tell me everything,” I pressed. I was genuinely happy for her. After all, she had only recently recovered from a shattered heart and was new to the elusive “dating world” in the city.

“Yeah, I’m really excited,” she exclaimed with an enthusiastic innocence reserved only for people fresh on the dating scene. She ran her fingers through her honey-colored, clavicle-grazing hair and peered at me with her penetrating ice-blue eyes.

“We’ve been talking on Tinder for a couple of days, and he finally asked me out. He’s super cute. He lives in Bushwick. I’m going over to his house tonight around 9:30 pm.” She lit a Marlboro and inhaled with a newfound confidence.

“That’s a little late for a Sunday. I hope he’s cooking you a three-course-f*cking meal with wines imported from France,” I replied.

She released a delicate high-pitched pearl of laughter (why do girls voices get inexplicably higher when they talk about boys?).

“Nah, I think we’re just going to chill. Maybe crush a few beers and watch some Netflix.”

Ex-f*cking-cuse me? “Crush beers?” What does that even mean?

“Wait a minute. You’re telling me you’re taking three trains from the Upper West Side to f*cking Bushwick to meet some random boy in his sh*t-hole apartment to ‘crush beers’ and watch television on a Sunday night? You don’t even like beer!”

“Yeah, it’s a date, assh*le,” she primly retorted, smoothing her hair with the tips of her silver-ring-adorned fingers. “I’m sorry YOU don’t have a date tonight.”

Her tone was haughty as she refilled her wine to the very top of the glass, so much so that a little bit spilled out the sides and onto the black lacquer coffee table.

Allow me to preface: The girl in question has a master’s degree in art history from a noted educational institution. She’s whip-smart. She’s witty as hell. She’s got magnetic, exotic, hypnotic cat eyes and bee-stung lips.

I’ve never seen her mouth brush up against a can of beer, and as far as I know, she prefers books to Netflix.

How was this incredible force of girl nature NOT getting it? Maybe I’m bat-sh*t insane, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s common knowledge when a guy you hardly know invites you over after 9 pm on a f*cking Sunday night and isn’t even offering to cook you dinner, it’s not a f*cking date.

It’s a booty call. It’s sex. It’s what my lovely friend Laura delicately calls a “dial-a-d*ck.”

I left her apartment, wine-buzzed and sorely irritated by irrepressible humility hanging heavily in the air. I haphazardly hailed a taxi. My mind raced as fast as the cab flew down the West Side Highway.

My brain was teeming with dark thoughts about how screwed up the modern day hookup culture is, and how it’s ruined the lost art of dating.

When did all the fabulous, career-oriented, stunningly beautiful women of the world start confusing late-night hookups on cheap sheets of a dude’s dumpy apartment with an actual real-life date?

When did giving unreciprocated oral sex on a Tuesday night become the framework for a new relationship? When did girls start confusing f*cking with affection? When did deep throating become the baseline for a deep connection?

I’m not shaming girls who frequently have casual sex. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a f*ck buddy, engaging in a one-night-stand or simply having sex for sex’s sake. It’s 2015 — there is absolutely no such thing as a “slut.”

That’s not what this is about. I’m talking about mixing up “hooking up” with the lost art of dating. While sex and dating go beautifully together, sex, by itself, on its own, isn’t a replacement for the affection one deserves in a new relationship.

“Netflix and Chill” is not affection.

Watching Netflix and chilling on the couch is a beautiful thing once you’re in a long-term committed relationship with a partner you’re in love with.

But, girls, if a boy invites you over to his studio apartment to watch “Netflix and chill out” for your first date, it’s not a date.

There is zero effort, no thought or planning when someone invites you to his house to watch TV. It’s not romantic. It’s not sweet and thoughtful.

It’s f*cking lazy. It’s a glorified booty call. If that’s his idea of a date, he’s a f*ckboy. And you don’t need to f*ck with f*ckboys.

A 2 am text is not communication.

Don’t pretend you’re “communicating” strongly with the person you’re dating just because he occasionally texts you late-night.

When you only hear from the person you’re having sex with when the sun is breaking into the 4-am sky, it’s a bright, shining, red flag.

It means you’re only crossing his mind when he’s a few drinks deep and is hungry for sex.

You deserve the person who thinks of you in the daytime, at work, with his friends. Not just because he’s horny and it’s easy.

A consistent booty call is not a relationship.

Having consistent sex isn’t enough to deem your dynamic a relationship. A relationship takes the investment of endless effort, valuable time, extreme vulnerability, hopeful trust and a cohesive lifestyle.

Sex is a big part of a relationship, but it’s not enough. You need flowers, and dates and deep conversations too.

Penetration is not dedication.

The nature of sex is vulnerable, whether we want to admit it or not. You’re literally being penetrated.

You share such a physical closeness with another entity; it makes it easy to feel like you’re deeply bonded to the person you’re sleeping with.

But for a lot of men (not all, but some), sex is just sex. Sex doesn’t always translate as a dedication to you and your future together. For some people, sex is just a temporary feel-good.

Make sure you’re not confusing sex with a promise for commitment.

Promises in the sheets aren’t real promises.

Okay, so you’re entangled with another person between twisted, damp sheets.

You’ve just had the most mind-blowing sex of your entire life. You ask him if he wants to be more than just “f*ck buddies.” You’re both naked. Sweating. Basking in f*cking desire.

He says: “Of course.”

And then, he doesn’t call you ever again. Remember that promises made in the sheets are often fueled by the heat of sexual desire.

He might not have been thinking clearly because he was so sexually entranced by your prowess.

You deserve the person who wants to be with you in the morning over coffee after a bad day at work, when you look like sh*t and feel like your life is falling apart.

Not just the person who wants you in his bed.

A sexual connection is not a love connection.

It’s so direly easy to confuse sex with love. We all do it all the time. Sex is a powerful thing.

After all, it informs almost everything we do. It’s the reason buildings are built, and money is made and babies are born. It’s the driving force behind everything.

When you have insatiable, orgasmic, fantastical sex with someone, it can feel like you’re floating in the air. It’s a high. Like love.

Love and sex, however, aren’t one in the same, even though they can really, really f*cking feel that way. Connecting with someone sexually is amazing. But it’s not necessarily a love connection.

I should know. It took me far too long to figure this one out.

If someone knew how to turn me on and press my sexual buttons, I was certain it was love. But then I fell in love and learned love and sex go beautifully together, but a sexual connection isn’t necessarily a love connection.

Love is listening. Love is time invested into the heart of another person. Love is there for you when the going gets rough. Love is intellectual stimulation.

And when a love connection and a sexual connection join forces, it’s the most powerful, beautiful, wonderful, vulnerable, fabulous, heartbreakingly amazing experience of all.