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The Morning After



Last night, when the love was too strong,

We couldn’t fight it and you stayed

Just a little too long,

So for now it’s morning and yesterday’s gone

But can we move on?”

The words above are the hook to the song “Last Night (Can we move on?)”  by former R&B singer, Montell Jordan. The song which was released on his 1999 album, “Get it On…Tonite” has somehow managed to stay in my head all these years. Why? Because it spoke of quite  a serious issue that has happened to me and I’m sure a lot of you too. The song is about the “morning after”; you know, the “morning after” a night of sex or love making. What makes this particular “morning after” different from other “morning afters” is that this particular morning is after the first time you have had sex with someone, which was most probably unplanned as well.

Allow me to illustrate. Tony meets Ada and they become good friends, and like most friendships involving two people of the opposite sex, they begin to have feelings for each other. Tony makes his feelings known to Ada, but unfortunately she isn’t quite ready to progress the relationship. So they decide to remain just friends– they call each other up, hang out, share burdens and joys, etc. Then one night, while at Tony’s place, the mutual feelings and attraction reach a crescendo, and after a shared bottle of wine they cross the boundaries that they had set up and by seeming mutual consent, end up having great sex. Finally!

Now ordinarily that should be a “good” thing, right? Unfortunately, in my experience I have found that sometimes it’s not such a good thing. And it all starts from the moment you both wake up, the ‘morning after’. As the wine or euphoria clears with wakefulness, Tony and Ada both come to a full realization of what has just transpired between them and there is heavy awkwardness. Hitherto the pair who had found it easy to talk and flow on any subject find themselves strangely reticent. Ada shyly gathers her clothing and beats a hasty retreat. Tony notices the change and tries to say something funny which falls flat, but Ada in her desire to lighten the mood laughs, yet it doesn’t come out quite as nice as it used to. As they part, they promise to call each other up.

A whole day passes, and no one has called the other. Traditionally, it is expected that the guy is the one to make the post-liaison call to check up on the woman. Unfortunately, Tony did not get that memo; he is still trying to figure out what exactly to say to Ada. I mean what do you say to a friend with whom you have just had sex? On the other side of town, Ada is patiently waiting for Tony to call and when he doesn’t, a hundred-and-one thoughts run through her mind: “Maybe he doesn’t really like me”; “Maybe I wasn’t that good”; “Maybe he’s gotten what he’s always wanted and now he’s no longer interested”. She hopes he calls, she prays he calls; he doesn’t. Tony eventually calls – three days later – and Ada understandably is cold towards him. They eventually hook up a few days later and Ada accuses Tony of sleeping with her and then avoiding her, he denies, claiming instead that he has been busy. Even in cases were the guy does call on-time, when they finally meet things are not quite the same. The girl who was formally bubbly and friendly is now cold and withdrawn, and the guy is not as patient. Their body language shows that things have changed and if not properly handled, their relationship instead of getting better actually deteriorates and eventually ends.

Why does this happen? Perhaps, from the woman’s point of view, it is the suspicion that the guy was probably only after one thing, and now that he has gotten it, he may no longer be interested in her, so she subconsciously withdraws. On the other hand, the guy by some primitive biochemical force also tends to subconsciously relax his attentions as soon as he has had sex with the object of his desire. However this doesn’t necessarily mean that he is no longer interested in the girl.

I may be wrong but I think that once a guy and a girl have shown and given their bodies to each other, the relationship gets affected by these thoughts and forces, and it then requires one or both of them to rise above the situation and handle it as maturely as possible. Maturity is key as both of them are trying to figure out what happens next, and what it all means. Indeed, I have found myself in this situation a few times, and a few women have asked me, “What are we now?” At this point, the entire relationship not only rests on the answer to this question, but my ability to answer the question correctly. Do you want to take things to the next level by going into a serious relationship? Or do you want things to remain the way they were (are)? Guys need to be careful at this “morning after” stage because invariably (or as they would like us to think) most women have already moved to the next stage of the relationship – in their heads at the very least – where they have fallen in love or are ready for a serious and committed relationship.

So what really is the correct form of behaviour after a relationship has crossed from friendship into sex? Is it necessary to immediately define where the relationship is going or is it perhaps better to allow time dictate how things play out? In all honesty, I doubt that there might be one correct way to handle this situation to preserve or even improve on the friendship. Perhaps instead of allowing a rising awkwardness to unsettle the friendship, both parties should honestly communicate their feelings and hopes for the relationship. In my opinion just because two people have been intimate doesn’t mean they have to date, taking the dating option usually seems like an attempt to legitimize the ‘deed’ as opposed to following the natural progression of the relationship.

Communication is key. But what happens when both parties are communicating two different things? The truth is, we win some and lose some and again this is where maturity is necessary. If only one party isn’t interested in progressing things further then maybe with time the friendship can progress to a stage were both parties feel comfortable around each other again.

Our ability to maturely communicate what we want and our ability to understand what the other person wants is important. The saddest part is when we fail to communicate. Talking about how you feel is the single most important thing that can be done in this kind of situation. And it is not just about talking; both parties must use the right words and try to properly frame their feelings and new expectations, if any. This will most probably ensure that people like Tony and Ada, enjoy many more happy “morning afters”.

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 Follow TJ on twitter on @TJOKaro, if you think you can abide more of his opinions than the occasional annoying article!

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