Is 'Do It For The Plot' Dating As Carefree As It Seems?

Are you 'doing it for plot'? (Photo: DrAfter123 via Getty Images)
Are you 'doing it for plot'? (Photo: DrAfter123 via Getty Images)

Are you 'doing it for plot'?  (Photo: DrAfter123 via Getty Images)

“I knew it was set to be a terrible idea”, says Jess*, 31, from London of going home with a date who had been showing red flag after red flag over dinner.

“He was the worst, but I knew he had this insane penthouse with a swimming pool – so I thought, okay, let’s do it for the plot. Conversations in my group chat were poppin’ the next day.”

Videos tagged with ‘do it for the plot’ have been viewed over 21.2 million times on TikTok, but what is this phenomenon sweeping our timelines? In essence, ‘do it for the plot’ is a new variation on the “you only live once” (YOLO) mantra.

This can be applied to all aspects of your life; saying yes to a last minute holiday with your friends; going to the gig you can’t really afford tickets to; cutting your hair off into the style you’ve been feeling scared to try out. 

However, some people are taking it one step further and ‘doing it for the plot’ while dating.

“Everything we do, we are doing it for the plot,” reads the text on one viral TikTok video. 

“Texted your ex? Good, it’s for the plot. Got so drunk you lost your ID and the guy who found it reaches out? Great plot line sis. The guy who ghosted you pops back up out of nowhere? The plot thickens.”

Forget hot girl summer, 2022 was the year of plot girl summer and it’s now segueing into a new season – with plenty a toxic dating trend to fuel the narrative.

Away from TikTok, it turns out plenty of us have “done it for the plot” – whether that’s saying yes to a date with someone we wouldn’t usually go for, trying out something new in bed that stretches our boundaries, or simply chasing a good story to bring our friends the morning after the chaotic night before. 

“I had sex with a Premier League footballer 100% for the story in my early 20s. Park Lane hotel, the whole shabang. Despite being pretty much a lesbian it was worth it,” Emma* tells HuffPost UK.

Sophie* had sex with someone she shouldn’t have because it was too good a story not to: “I know there’s the old saying about not dipping your pen in the company ink, but when my boss made a move on me at a Christmas party, I couldn’t not. I don’t think I was even that into him, but having the opportunity to say I shagged my boss? All for the plot.” 

Dating for the plot can be seriously fun, as Jessica Alderson, relationships expert at the dating app, So Synced, tells us – and can have its advantages in pushing us out of our comfort zone.

If you approach it in a reasonable way with clear boundaries and you respect the feelings of others, you can end up having more fun dates,” she says. “Doing it for the plot encourages you to be more open to new experiences and to say yes to opportunities that you might otherwise pass up.”

After a Covid pandemic spent cooped up and bored, many of us have been making up for lost time in our first full lockdown free year, embracing not just dating, but life in general with caution thrown to the wind. 

Given our innate need to be liked and deemed interesting, it’s also no wonder this ideology is thriving, especially online where likes count for everything.

As Alderson adds, dating is also the easiest area within our lives for us to apply the YOLO thinking – far less risky than plot-chasing in your career, for example.

But is this idea of ‘doing it for the plot’ in our love lives actually as carefree as it seems or can it end up with an unwanted plot twist?

“Dating with a ‘there are no bad dates, only good stories’ ideology can be dangerous,” Alderson warns. 

“If the ‘good stories’ naturally unfold in certain situations, that’s one thing,” she says. “It’s another thing if you go out of your way to behave outrageously just for a story to show off about. You can end up in unsafe situations.”

And it’s not just the physical dangers of dating for the plot we need to be wary of. Living in a cycle where you’re constantly in pursuit of being ‘that friend with the crazy dating stories’ can do a serious number on your self-esteem. You can end up feeling pressure to maintain that level of entertainment – until going on a ‘regular’ date can feel boring, even if the chemistry is really there with someone.

There’s also the complicated issue of having sex with someone for the plot. On the one hand, if you and the person in question are on the same page about what the interaction is (i.e. casual, non-committal) it can be a whole lot of fun.

However, while many of us have a story of ‘that one night’ where you ended up having wild sex with someone unexpected, it’s important to remember that there’s always another person’s feelings involved

As Alderson cautions: “It’s important to be mindful if someone else’s heart is on the line and if you know they’re interested in you, it’s not fair to lead them on simply to continue the plot to amuse your friends.”

Whether you do it for the plot or not, as with any style of dating, it pays to be aware of your actions and intentions if you want your story to have a happy ending.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.