“There goes mother hen,” my friend jokes, as the hottest girl in the bar leads her group of friends by us.

She looks like Zooey Deschanel…with an edge. Long black hair, light blue eyes, and a devious smile. Beautiful, vicious, and enticing, all at the same time.

I have to meet her.

My friend starts a conversation with the girls beside us–they’re okay. As I play wingman, I glimpse at–let’s call her “Zoe”–from the corner of my eye.

When I see a beautiful girl at the bar, I don’t wait around.

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“I’ll be right back. Need to run to the bathroom,” I fib to the  okay girl . I have no plans to reengage this bland conversation. zooey-deschanel-17

I circle the bar and enter from the other side of the dance floor. There is Zoe, surrounded by her girlfriends.

“This is my favorite song!” I shout, grinning, as Backstreet Boys music blasts from the speakers. I fucking love 90s night.

She laughs. I raise my glass to her group of friends and we cheers’.

Sometimes you have an instant connection with a girl. You know you’re going to take her home before the night ends…if you have the balls to go for it, at least.

This is one of those times.

We dance, kiss, and joke for an hour, then we cool down by the bar.

“You wanna get outta here?” I ask.

“Sure,” Zoe says.

We burst into her bedroom and…let’s just say we don’t go to sleep until 4am. You can fill in the details.

We lay there, exhausted, in the dim hours of the early morning. It’s one of those memorable nights. Crazy, amazing, fulfilling–just everything you want from an adventurous night out.

She falls asleep in my arms.

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As we awake, I look over, and Zoe is still gorgeous. Yup, still looks weirdly identical to Zooey Deschanel.

I drop her off at work and kiss her goodbye. “Let’s hang out next week. I’ll text you,” I exclaim.

“Yeah for sure, I had a great time,” she says, and walks off.

I drive home, feeling content, with memories of the previous night swirling through my head.

I text her later that day. “Hey girl. Had a great time hanging out/jamming to Backstreet Boys with you. Have a good day at work.”

No answer.

Throughout the day, I worry. “What did I do wrong?” I ask myself. Thoughts like, “Am I not good enough?” even cross my mind. I have a feeling she won’t answer.

And that’s when it hits me…

Something feels complete with this girl. Not in a soul-mate sort of way, not at all. When I say complete, I mean, that’s all there needs to be. I had this feeling throughout the night, but ignored it. One night of crazy sex (whoops, cats out of the bag) and a fun connection. That one memory. That’s all there needs to be, and nothing more.

I don’t care if I see this girl again. Yes, she is cool. Yes, she is sexy.

But I realize this: I don’t actually like her. I like the idea of her.

I’m more concerned with the validation she’d give me than actually hanging out again.

The sex is good, but the connection isn’t as deep as with other girls.  I’m just overthinking it because of her hotness. I catch myself in scarcity mode.

I have a rule when it comes to everything in my life. It’s either FUCK YES, or no. And she is not a “Fuck YES”. No. More like an “Ehh. Pretty good.” She probably feels the same way.

Sometimes it’s only supposed to last a night, and that’s cool.

Those nights are great. I’ll be real with you– If I had an opportunity for another night like this with Zoe, I’d take it in a heartbeat. But it’s not going to happen, and I’m cool with that too. Because there are plenty of other girls who are a “Fuck YES.”

So, do you like her? Or just the idea of her?

It’s easy to confuse the two. But there’s a BIG difference.

If you actually like her, you fight for her. When asked how you feel about her, you know immediately. You feel it in your gut. Butterflies for days.

If you like the idea of her, you don’t get as excited about hanging out with her. You like the validation she provides. You enjoy the thought of having her as a “back up,” in case you don’t find a better girl that night. The idea of bringing her along because she’s hot, and it’ll make you look good.

If you like the idea of her, you might sacrifice your values to stay with her.

If you like the idea of her, you endure a stale relationship even though the connection has faded.

And you do a disservice to both you and her.

So step back and ask yourself this question the next time you’re confused about a girl. Because, more often than not, you like the idea of her more than you like the girl herself.

And if that’s the case, it’s time to let her go.