Waking up and reading the signs of the morning after

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How much can you read into the morning after? Whether it be a casual fling or something more regular, waking up next to somebody else on a Sunday morning is an integral part of picking them up the night before (as is missing brunch with your friends because you forgot to set an alarm). Most people focus their attention on what comes before the hook up; rarely do we spend long considering what comes after we actually get laid.

As you groggily wake up next to yesternight’s catch, a whole host of uncharted situations can arise. First off, what the fuck is his name? Just kidding, if you don’t remember that, moan something Lana Del Rey-style and hopefully he won’t notice you called him something random like “garlic.”

More seriously though, after how many nights does a confused morning glance turn into something more tender?  When does it become acceptable to sleep in your partner’s bed past when they get up to go to work? And even more generally, to what extent can we conclude something about the intimacy of a relationship from what happens under the sheets, after the fun?

The morning after the first hookup can be a daunting experience, either due to the haze of an unwelcome hangover or the pathos of the situation. But there is at least comfort in knowing that a stranger you found last night will probably fade out of your life until you queue behind them at pasta bar.

But what about an individual you’ve been courting for a while already? The next morning is when you need to fully acknowledge the reality of the situation: your suppositions were correct, expectations were met and whatever you were working up to has now occurred. The next step didn’t really fall into the original equation.

Take the following scenario. You’re lying there in bed and as you awaken with an arm awkwardly placed under their torso, you try and slyly check whether they’re awake without disturbing their sleep. Mission failed, of course, and they open a puffy eye to see you a few inches from their face. Do you lean in for a kiss? Maybe, but that’s all a bit trite, isn’t it? Unless you actually like the person, and this is the fourth time this has happened, in which case you might be tempted to go for it. Just be assured that for many, this will be a clear statement of your feelings.

Maybe it’s a bit too soon to send that message. You wouldn’t want them thinking something like “oh, that’s a bit forward, fuck, they didn’t brush their teeth last night,” which they might if they don’t reciprocate your feelings. Which would be totally fine (duh, you’re sexually liberated), you just need to figure that out first. So since the kiss is out of the question, maybe this needs a joke? But who can come up with a good joke when they’re contorted with a numb arm?

The scenario could continue, but you get the gist. If you try and break down this kind of situation, it feels like a worryingly dangerous juggling game where every ball is a tacky relationship trope you’re trying to avoid. The same goes for the opposite perspective, whereby one’s trying to read their partner’s code. Was that intentional? Am I being delusional?

There’s no realistic way to tell what somebody is thinking in this situation, and the relationship tropes the morning after vary somewhat from person to person anyway. Life isn’t a Sleepy’s commercial, and there’s no realistic way to wake up fresh as a rose and perfectly adapted with a trademark pun for the current situation. As much as I love finding some overarching answer for these kinds of protocols and situations, in this case it may be more useful to realize why you are overthinking things so much.

If you were to be lying in your partner’s bed decadently at 10:30 am, imagine glancing around from under their quilt and noticing the pictures on the corkboard, posters from high school they’ve brought from home, familiar pile of clothes in a corner. In this situation, it’s clear that you care about this individual as more than a fuck, whether that be some sort of intangible fondness or something more serious. Regardless, it’s clear that if you’re hesitant to remain in the person’s bed past them, it’s due to their personal space being something that you respect. It signifies some sort of emotion on your part that needs to be addressed for a healthy dynamic, whether it be with a sit down conversation or a passing comment when you’re lying together.

It would seem, in fact, that the morning after is less a time to read into your relationship than it is one to fully grasp your own feelings and whether you should talk them out.

We all know that communication is the key to a successful relationship of any kind, at least to make sure that both parties are on the same page regarding the whole thing. Once that’s done, maybe the issue will stop being what to do when you’re in bed and not fucking and become how to keep your partner lying next to you.  Regardless of the intimacy or seriousness of the relationship, there are few comforts like that of another person, skin against skin. You just have to be honest with yourself, and realize that maybe it’s what you want – look who’s being trite now.

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