forming any type of romatic or intimate relationship requires a lot of work, both mentally and physically. at twenty years old (almost twenty-one this october), my experience is quite thorough in the realm of casual relationships. my longest serious relationship lasted three whole months, and the first two were trying to figure out where the both of us stood with each other. the rest were all casual (yes, unfortunate, everything is an experience, is it not). if anyone asks, i am the expert of casual relationships.
what is a casual relationship?
how i see casual relationships is grey area. it is not a real “relationship”, and you would never say you are in a relationship with this individual. at the same time, there is some meaning and importance to the connection you both have. there are various types of casual relationships.
one | the fake casual relationship
i hate these types of arrangements the most. this is where both parties like each other, and may potentially have some feelings for each other, bur for some reason, there is a lingering reason as to why the relationship cannot go further into a serious one. you do not consider yourself as “dating” the other individual. rather, you are just “seeing” them, to avoid that level of intimacy and seriousness.
from personal experience, my fake casual relationship happened because the guy was too invested in his ex. we acted somewhat like a couple behind doors, and he would consistently tag me in memes on social media, even on facebook where his mom asked him who i was because he was tagging me so excessively. there were qualities of a relationship, in which we would text constantly every day, send good night and good morning text messages, and say “i miss you” or “ily” (fun fact – he rarely spelled out ily because it was too serious for him, so he would literally say ily to me. yes, go ahead and judge me because even i thought it was weird). but in the very end, his lingering feelings for his ex, along with many other qualities, also prevented myself from falling hard for him. i will admit that there were feelings involved on both ends, and i enjoyed his company 25% of the time. we always had issues though. i also struggled with how i became overly jealous due to his ex, but i had no right to say much because this arrangement was not considered serious. we were faking what we wanted with other people. this ended after three months.
two | friends with benefits
this is one of the most common types of relationships that people in their twenties prefer nowadays. it is simple when the rules are being followed and the guidelines are set. the plethora of scenarios and how feelings may play out are ongoing, there is a lot that may go on in your mind, when you are engaged in such an arrangement.
» are we exclusive?
» is she/he currently sleeping with other people?
» why am i insecure about this?
» am i being too clingy?
» am i being too distant?
» do i like her/him more than she/he likes me?
my best advice to you is to understand what is happening between you two right now. how intimate do you guys get inside and outside the bedroom? is he taking you out on dates, paying for your meals, texting you constantly, and making you check your phone constantly for his responses? or are you splitting the check down the middle, texting infrequently, and you are carrying on with your day to day activities, even considering seeing other people in hopes of finding something more serious? when some activities become borderline dating-like, you approach a dangerous territory in which emotions need to be accounted and measured carefully. it is unwise to brush them aside because doing so may inevitably result in a sudden realization that you have feelings for that other person. it is common in these arrangements that one person likes the other slightly more than the reverse. there is no issue in that. it becomes an issue when one places unrealistic expectations that are not defined by the social construct of a friends with benefits relationship. you cannot expect them to respond to your messages or snapchats instantly. you should not feel overly offended if they leave you on read, or choose their friends over you.
it is essential to keep in mind that they are just like any one of your friends, with the addition of sexual intimacy. it is critical to rationalize when you begin to notice overanalytical tendencies. by keeping your guard up constantly, there is a smaller chance of having your heart broken or becoming emotionally distraught for however long it may take. it has taken me from a couple days to a couple months, to get over guys i have been in casual relationships with.
are you ready for a casual relationship?
you may be in a situation, where you want to be with a particular individual, but they are not willing to commit. nevertheless, the both of you like each other enough to an extent where letting go of each other would cause some emotional wreckage. therefore, the only option left is to be in this “sort of relationship” type of relationship. the following questions may help you decide whether you should jump into such a thing or not.
» is this your first potential “relationship” with that person?
if yes, then no, you are not ready. i may sound traditional saying this, but i strongly believe casual relationships come after separation of serious relationships. starting your first relationship very casually causes an inbalance in standards in terms of what you expect your partner to act and feel.
if no, but you are rebounding, then maybe. ask yourself how broken are you from your past relationship. are you simply seeking sexual intimacy, and you need a break from wholehearted commitment? then yes. but if you are craving an indivdiual to replace that one person who you lost, then no.
if no, but you have been single for a long time, then maybe. if you are currently happy in what you are currently doing, and you simply want a little fun on the side, then yes. if you are in a state of desperately craving attention, experiencing moments of loneliness and strongly believing that a partner would alleviate that emptiness, then no. you will not find what you need in a casual relationship. what you should only be settling for is someone who is willing to commit to you entirely.
» do you currently feel happy and fulfilled?
there is only one answer to this, and you should probably be expecting it.
if yes, then yes.
if no, then no.
being in a casual relationship requires having a strong state of mind. if you are vulnerable in one aspect of your life, whether it involves parents, academics, financial situation, friendships, or past relationships, you will inevitably bring that baggage onto the relationship with your partner. in all casual relationships i have been in, problems embedded into my life resulted in becoming overly dependent on the guy i was with. it was not until too late when i realized my feelings for that person developed too strongly and the spectrum was not balanced.
why do it?
if you have been in a committed relationship for a while, and are reading this, confused as to why people even consider pursuing casual relationships, here are some reasons why. i will be fair and add the disadvantages.
- unadded pressure of a real relationship
- jealousy is not common
- privacy upon both sides is respected (you will not have to worry about your partner snooping through your phone)
- ability to put your friends first. ever seen those relationships whether the significant other is more improtant than friends? that never happens here.
- having a friend you can be intimate with – killing two birds with one stone.
- judgement. these relationships are slowly picking up traction, but do not expect the adults to be thrilled by this.
- inbalance of affection. one person may like the other person significantly more. it is an issue if it is significantly more. it is common if it is slightly. please keep that difference in mind.
- unreciprocated feelings. this can equate to the pain of a heartbreak.
- lowered standards that may be confused for societal norms. you should open the door for your partner, always, but you do not have to pay for all their meals. distinguish those two, and understand them.
long story short – if you partake in a casual relationship strictly by the rules while preventing boundaries from edging into the grey area, then you should not fear. i hope this guide helps with deciding whether to jump into that relationship or not. if you have specific questions, feel free to leave a comment below, or send me an email. i am more than happy to hear your story and share my thoughts on your situation.