In the last year, I’ve noticed an article trending called “Fuck Yes or No”. It was featured on a self-help website run by a guy named Mark Manson, who is a self-proclaimed “Author. Thinker. Life-enthusiast.” Mark Manson writes and thinks and is enthusiastic about life! How’s THAT for a triple threat? Mark Manson’s site looks a lot like that clickbait site, Elite Daily. (Not that I’ve actually clicked on “Adorable Puppy is Way Too Good at Dancing” or anything… )
Anyway, Manson’s philosophical theory is as follows:
The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them. The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” also states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them…If you’re in the grey area to begin with, you’ve already lost.
Mark Manson’s writing is douche-y and his theory is a flawed.
That’s not to say I don’t see why this resonated with people, though. Relationships are complicated. Sex, vulnerability and compatibility make them so. If you’re being jerked around and disrespected, fuck that. But what if two adults are in a relationship and they are just…seeing what happens? What if the grey area is exactly where they’d like to start?
I am in favor in letting things marinate.
Three years and some change ago, after a New Years Eve party, my friend Brandon kissed me on a futon at 5am. He kissed me while I was mid-sentence, rambling about god knows what, and when he was done, I said, “Daaayyyyuumm, boy!” I was not sober.
I had known Brandon since late 2006, when our mutual friend invited us to perform in Chicago’s Sketch Comedy Festival. I was smitten by him immediately. I thought he was adorable, quirky and hilarious. Apparently, so did the rest of the theater department. As a cute straight guy in theater, Brandon had his pick of the litter. As much as I tried to impress him with my knowledge of Joni Mitchell lyrics, I was not his pick.
Our now established comedy group decided to get together annually for Sketch Fest. Every year, I’d swear I wasn’t going to develop a crush on Brandon and every year I did. It was unavoidable seeing as how he was so goddamn cute and fun. I would offer him rides home in an effort to spend more time with him, despite the fact that he lived out of my way. In a journal entry from late 2009, I wrote, “I just want to make out with that sexy manchild.”
At the end of 2011, I started to suspect that Brandon might like me. In the two years between 2009 and 2011, I acquired some life experience along with some confidence (dated more, traveled, lived abroad, etc). I was different now. Sure he was cool, but so were other guys. I like to think that was part of my appeal, but he claims it was the hot pink leggings I wore to our cast photo shoot.
A few weeks later, he kissed me.
A week after that, he said, “I just want you to know I’m not looking for anything serious.” I had never had a guy be so blunt at the start, when things are supposed to be so…RomCom. I was slightly rattled by it. How dare he be so honest! “What are you looking for?”, he asked me. I told him I didn’t know. It’s hard to tell where you want something to go when you’re just starting out with someone. And that was true. Because despite how exciting beginnings were, by my mid-twenties I had learned that jumping in could result injury. Plus, I had been home from South America for a year and I was itching to get back out. Settling down in Chicago was not a part of my plan. Something more casual was what I needed.
With each month that passed, I would check in with myself. “Three months in…will you be okay if this ends soon?” Nothing was intense, but it was fun. A lot of guys see a casual relationship as an excuse to justify asshole behavior, but Brandon treated me well from the start. We both kept our guards up. He was kind but enigmatic. I was attentive but chill.
As time went on, things got more couple-y. He brought me out with his friends, we went away on a weekend with mine, and I met his sister from out of town. It was around five months in, when he asked me to help him throw a barbecue, that things started to feel complicated. We were getting closer. My sister’s wedding was a month later in June and I was tentative about asking him to join me, until one day he called and asked me if I was bringing him. “I just want to make sure I don’t have to work”, he said. That solved that.
A week before my sister’s wedding, I went to Mexico for a friend’s wedding. I stayed in large suite with an ocean view, all by myself. I spent four days with my oldest friends and their devoted boyfriends/fiances and it put things in perspective. I got sick while I was there and stayed in my room on the last night, watching the movie Up in the Air, about a lifelong bachelor who avoids commitment. There was no denying my deepening feelings for Brandon and I knew I’d have to address them. That meant things would probably end soon. Better now that later, I thought.
I got home from Mexico and he invited me over. He met me at the door and pulled me to him, kissing my head, rubbing my back, asking how I felt. It was intimate and loving and different than the usual quick kiss. I welcomed it. Four days later, we were at my sister’s wedding. It was huge, it was loud, it was a blast. For that night, I put the Mexico decision aside.
A few days later, he asked me to meet him for Mexican. After a few margaritas, we went back to his place. He laid on his back beside me, closed his eyes and slowly said, “I…have a…feeling…” “Is it a good feeling or a bad feeling?” I asked. “It’s…a good feeling.” That night, fueled by margarita courage, the guards came down. I screamed, “Fuck YES!”. Just kidding. I didn’t say that. I told him I had strong feelings for him too.
By August, Brandon asked me to move to Seattle with him. I wanted adventure, I wanted mountains, and I wanted him. We left the following spring. We have been here two years. I am writing this in our apartment.
Our beginning wasn’t the stuff of fairy tales. There was no wooing, no gallant gestures. We both came into it with baggage. Whether we knew it or not, we needed time. Our beginning was the stuff of real life. I’ve known plenty of couples that started strong and have stayed strong. I’ve known more than plenty who have moved fast and burnt out. Then I have seen others, like us, start in the grey area and evolve into something strong and beautiful. “Fuck yes or no” is not a blanket statement. Commitment is big, love is important. There is no one path to either. What should be a blanket expectation, though, is respect. Respect yourself, respect who you’re with. Be good to each other, grey area or otherwise.
If three years ago I had come into the relationship demanding a “Fuck yes!” from Bran, he would have bailed. Had he demanded that from me, I probably would have hung out with him for a few weeks, freaked out, and then slowly drifted (my previous history tells me so). “Fuck yes!” was not for us. The grey area was. According to a viral article by a professional Life Enthusiast, that means we lost. But according to older couples who frequently compliment our dancing at weddings, we have won.