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Can horny playlists keep your relationship going?

Can horny playlists keep your relationship going?
By twenty-something. • Issue #22 • View online
They sure as hell won’t hurt it.
by Bianca Smith
Before our first date, my boyfriend and I exchanged playlists. 
And while mostly suggestive, they were our attempt at saying “I think you’re hot and, respectfully, would like to hook up.”
This now-ritual started three and a half years ago after we both swiped right on Tinder. It feels important to note that we had mutual friends and knew of each other before we matched—some built-in comfort to cut through the Tinder-match-unease (you might know the feeling).
But another way to test the waters before we met was to share ourselves through music. And now, deep into our relationship, playlists have been a tried-and-true way to communicate how and what we feel.
So what’s behind these magical, longing, ardent collections of songs? And how do they vary across the progression of our relationship? Humor me for a moment as I investigate my musical love notes.
I approached my first playlist relatively brashly—what better way to say, “Hey, I really like you” than with a suggestive title (I Think You Might Be Sweating Right Now?). I wanted my interest to be known, but I also didn’t want to be forward to the point of concern. Another showcase of the implied horniness is in the order of the songs themselves—making sure there’s sonic flow from one song to the next—and a balance between explicit and implicit messages, be it lyrical or musical. It was a fun communication challenge. How do I hint at my enthusiasm and illustrate the broadest view of my music taste? This was my response.
Four months into our relationship, this next playlist exchange was notably different. We had immersed ourselves in each other’s favorite artists and songs, so this mix in many ways illustrated and celebrated that. This playlist had all of the anticipation of the first one but was more tempered. It even took seasonal changes into account—a sonic version of cuddling up on a couch with a cup of hot tea. “I’d love to spend every moment I can with you,” phase, immortalized. 
An interesting shift happened a year into our relationship. We felt more comfortable sharing the fringes of our tastes without hesitation or fear of judgment. “Not Clever, Just Me” was a blatant attempt to capture an intimate snapshot of myself—a compilation that drew an explicit line between us as a couple and me as an individual person with my own evolving tastes. With no use for early-romance-performance, the candidness and individuality in the playlists from this point forward became distinctively sensual. 
We both used playlists as ways to share ourselves (and, for that reason alone, I’m keeping his playlists to myself—sorry readers!). Some of the most special mixes we’ve shared, though, hold up a mirror to the recipient. They showcase that they’re seen and understood—that each track chosen was done for no other reason than to say “I know you, and I love you.” Out of the freshest stages of our feelings for each other, this reminder has proven essential. It’s cyclical, almost. Back to that point of inspiration and implication, back to what’s thrilling while staying rooted in what’s familiar.
**
All to say, my boyfriend and I have talked about this pastime of ours at length. As auditory, music-loving people, these playlists have taken on various lives on their own in our relationship—entry points, relics of a certain moment in time, and a lot of steamier things in between. It makes me think, “What will come next?” More sharing, deeper exploration, and—well, more sex, I’d hope.
Bianca is a writer and strategist from Chicago. She helps run a digital community called Distant, spends too much time cuddling her two cats Pearl & Norman, and refuses to acknowledge that pasta sauce can also be called gravy. You can find more of her work at www.biancapsmith.com and you can find her on Instagram at @biancapsmith and @distant.community.

 

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