The Three Dating Buckets: Friend, Relationship, or Sex

– by Regina Hopkins, Introvert Unbound

hearts-inside-wooden-bucket-isolated-white-background-96127805There are three “buckets” we put potential dates into, usually without being overtly conscious of it. BOTH men and women have the three same labeled “buckets” when it comes to dating and relationships. These are:

The “friend bucket” — This person will only and always be a friend to you. (You will never see this person as somebody you would become sexually or romantically involved with). While they may be the greatest, nicest person you know, there is just not enough chemical attraction there for you to want to pursue anything more with this person.

The “relationship bucket” — You would have or want to have a relationship with this person.

The “sex bucket” — You will only ever sleep with them (and you do not want this to progress into a relationship).

While men and women both have the capacity to have all of these three buckets, there are two that stick out differently according to your gender. The two buckets that heterosexual men typically have are the “Sex bucket” and the “Relationship bucket.” For heterosexual women, the two buckets that stick out for them are the “Friend bucket” and the “Relationship bucket.”

When a man meets a woman, he usually quickly puts her into one of two “buckets:” either the “Relationship (potential) bucket” or the “Sex bucket.” He either sees a woman as somebody who he could have–or would like to have–a full-on relationship with or as purely a physical/sexual relationship.

More rarely for a man will he put a woman into his “Friend bucket.” For men, this special and small bucket is usually reserved for a very tiny percentage of women whom he can see only as friends. If there is ANY hint of him wanting somebody in his “Friend bucket” to maybe one day have potential of becoming something more, then really you’re in either his “Sex bucket” or his “Relationship bucket.” And he’s just lying to himself and to you if he says “Oh, we’re just friends,” but secretly hopes that one day he might be able to get a little closer with you on a more intimate level.

Likewise for women, women have two primary buckets that they put men into: the “Friend bucket” or the “Relationship bucket.” On a similarly rare level, some women have a (usually tiny) “Sex bucket.” For her this tiny bucket is reserved for a small group of men (if any) with whom she can be on a sex-only, no-strings-attached basis with and truly be okay with.

But, most women I know can’t have sex without having some kind of emotional attachment to men, and even if they won’t admit it, they are usually secretly hoping for something more. So most women I would say don’t actually have a “Sex bucket” at all. Just as most men don’t truly have a “Friend bucket” at all. It’s a rare exception when one of those genders truly does have one of those buckets without a hint of an ulterior motive there for “something more.”

Once you’ve been placed into a person’s bucket, it’s very hard to get out of that bucket and jump to another bucket. Sometimes it’s hard for women and men to know which category or bucket they fall into with a prospective partner they are interested in.

There are numerous articles out there about “How to get out of the friend zone with a woman.” Or usually geared more for women, “How to move a one night stand into a relationship.” The reality is, it’s going to be very unlikely that a woman who has “friend zoned” you will wake up one day and make a conscious decision to move you from “friend” to “relationship potential” and the reason is simple: her lack of chemical attraction to you. And it’s something you can’t change and she doesn’t have control over. Chemistry and attraction aren’t a choice. It can be sad when one person has those chemical feelings for one person, but it’s not reciprocated.

Likewise, it would be equally rare for a man to wake up one day and realize that somebody who he’s having a “friends with benefits” situation going on with is somebody who he wants to have a deeper relationship with. Although, the chances are slightly better in this situation I would say for a friends with benefits situation to move into something more meaningful, than it would be for a woman to take a man out of her friend bucket and put him into her relationship bucket.

A healthy way to view the “friendzone” scenario (if you are in it) is to reverse the roles for a minute and imagine yourself in the position where somebody likes you, but you don’t have reciprocal feelings back for them. Would you want to fake liking somebody else just to make them happy, or would you rather find somebody where it’s truly a reciprocal two-way street of authentic mutual attraction? Wouldn’t that kind of chemistry be so much better? So don’t beat yourself up over the fact that you are attracted to them, but they aren’t attracted to you. It happens to everybody and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t a wonderful person, you just didn’t have that special X factor for that one person.

And if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, we also logically know that finding that person with whom we have that special X factor with is indeed a rare and magical thing if we do find it. So keep looking! It just means you haven’t quite found that special needle in the haystack yet!

If you are a woman who says you have a “sex bucket” and you’re truly okay with it, think about this: Is there a guy who you say you’re okay only having sex with? But, if there is ANY hope, even a little bit that one day you would like to or be okay with this guy becoming your boyfriend, then he’s really not in your sex bucket. He’s actually in your relationship bucket and you’re just lying to yourself.

And if you are a woman in the “Sex bucket” for a man, but secretly want it to become something more, then a good way to look at that is one of two ways: keep having sex, and realize that you will basically never be anything deeper for that guy (and he will never be anything deeper for you either) and accept it and be okay with it, or cut the rope that is holding your hot air balloon down on the ground, and set yourself free to fly and see more amazing views from the top. If you let that one sandbag keep holding you back, you won’t ever get to see other amazing views from other places.

These three buckets are a reality for us all and once you know there are three buckets and where you will fall with somebody, then you can take some power back and feel more control and direction about how you want to proceed with your relationship with various people.


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