The Casual Relationship Thing

“I am committed to this casual relationship.” – 89% of men in America, probably

You know how these things go. You meet a charming someone and sooner or later you find yourself in that someone’s company frequently, sacred weeknights included. Time spent together is coupled with waves of texts that keep you interested because that someone is interested and you’re all having a grand ole’ time. Over text messages you share humorous commentary of your day, make topical jokes to prove your intelligence and make vague plans to see each other again. Half of the texts barely make sense thanks to autocorrect but the point is clear: something is happening between the two of you. You see each other when you can – I believe they call this dating – and hardly ever make concrete plans because hey, what’s the need? Neither party feels trapped since there hasn’t been an immediate need to define anything because everyone is on the same page. Right? Welcome to the casual relationship where everything is all rainbows and butterflies.

…until it’s not. One week you’re reveling in all the non-committal fun but the next thing you know, the other shoe drops in the form of one or all of the following situations:

The Fade Out. The texts stop. Calls become few and far between. The ever popular slow-fade or maybe the cold turkey crickets approach. Now as someone who has been both the fader and the fadee I understand there are times when you think this is acceptable and “the only way.” But come on, if honesty is the best policy isn’t it best to just be up front? It’s one thing to go on date one with someone and never text them again but it is a whole other ballgame when you’ve been strung about for weeks on end. No matter what side of the smart phone I am suddenly not texting from, I prefer some sort of parting words. However, it’s safe to assume that no text message or obligatory phone call “for closure” is going to answer the question(s) of why they’re not into it any longer, so on to the next one. All in all, if the fade out occurs then your time together has run its course.

Somebody Develops Real Feelings. It’s no secret that women are looking for commitment more often than men. Sometimes we feel like we can handle it all and not get too attached – we like our freedom just as much as the next guy! – but then your non-boyfriend does something so thoughtful your heart hurts. Someone at a party asks if the two of you are together and you watch as he mumbles and shoulder shrugs through it. You find yourself having those completely normal “what if” thoughts and realize you can’t fight the feeling anymore. Commitment hasn’t been defined but you can’t imagine being with anybody else and how could you? You’re involved.  This is the time for a “what are we doing/where is this going” conversation and please, not over text. Tell him how you feel and don’t be scared to start the conversation. If it’s right, it’s right.

The Comfortable Isn’t Exciting Anymore. One of you is over it, maybe because feelings were expressed and the outcome wasn’t so mutual. Or maybe you realized you are ready for something real, no matter how hard a real relationship may be at times. This is not a bad thing! Sure, you might feel awkward and not know how to handle the situation exactly but honesty is the best policy. You want more from a relationship. You’re ready to move on and forward in a relationship that’s going somewhere. Yes, you want to be in love (eventually) more than you want to just hang out and that is more than normal.

To come full circle and without sounding too much like an online dating service commercial, dating should be 10% awkward and 90% FUN. If you’re not looking for commitment then give the casual thing a spin – when it stops being fun, move on. Fall in love with everything you can but be Smart. Above all, be yourself. It also helps if you wear great shoes.

Featured image via ShutterStock

  • Laura Elizabeth Donovan

    Interesting post, Katie. I’ve had way too many of these situations, and I say situations because they don’t count as relationships. Overall I’m just happier with someone who is truly invested in me and doesn’t need to take a few months to realize that I’m worthy of all his affections. I’ve gotten into these sort of things when I’ve been lonely or believed I wasn’t deserving of something solid. Like you said, “dating should be 10% awkward and 90% FUN.” In my experience, it’s not very fun to constantly wonder if you’re ever going to hear from the other person again. Great post!

    • Katie Powell

      Thanks for reading and I SO agree on the whole “we’re all happier with someone who is truly invested in us.”

  • Anamaria Davila

    I hate being in these situations. I’m getting out of one as we speak. I want more, he can’t commit w/ the distance between us but doesn’t want to ‘lose me’ in the process. It’s the worst. Next time I get on that dating horse, no more casual dating. It’s too complicated for wanting an ‘easy’ relationship. Thanks for the read!

  • Jaime Hammer

    Totes agree with what you said about 10% awkward/90% fun. I got out of a long, pretty awful relationship at the beginning of the Summer, and I thought I wanted/was supposed to want to casually date. I like the idea of it. I’m open to it,. But after I started casually dating, I felt like something wasn’t quite right. I thought I was supposed to be having fun, but I wasn’t. I said yes to dates, and then dreaded going on them but I didn’t want to cancel because that seemed rude. My complete disinterest in dating these guys had nothing to do with them and everything to do with me.

    And it’s not that I want a serious relationship either. I don’t want that at all haha. But I think I need to spend time by myself (and I love myself, so I’m totally cool with it haha), and not worry about anyone else right now. If a guy comes along that I actually really like and I feel is worth giving up some of that me-time, then I’ll give him a shot. But otherwise, I’m going to treat this time I have to myself and with my pets and my family as sacred. I’m learning that it’s okay to not want to date (casually or seriously), and it’s okay to say no. :)

    • Katie Powell

      What a great perspective – we all need some time to ourselves to figure out what we want and if we want that anytime soon, you know? When you’re ready you’ll know, and you’ll be ready for a great guy! thanks for reading!

  • Ashley Sprouse

    I like this article and thought that discussing casual relationships that occur today is necessary. Although, I don’t like how you say, “It’s no secret that women are looking for commitment more often than men.” I don’t agree with that at all. I’m currently casually dating someone, and he is ready to commit whereas I am not. The ability to commitment has nothing to do with gender, but it has to do with each individual person. Some men are more eager for commitment, and some women shy away from it. Please don’t generalize. But I do agree that dating should be ten percent awkward and ninety percent fun. That’s such a good outlook on dating – why date someone if you don’t have fun together and make each other happy?

  • Shar Rowell

    I totally agree. Women are looking for commitment more often than men are. It’s tough to have a “casual” dating experience when ultimately you’re looking for something not-so-casual. What’s starts off okay suddenly isn’t so rosy when you are (possibly) hoping for something more. Dating is hard!

    • Katie Powell

      Dating is hard BUT look for the fun. Nice guys are out there, just have to first figure out what YOU want. Thanks for reading!

  • Joaquin Gaitán

    Whoa, whoa, whoa…. I don’t agree with the who’s looking to commit part.. It should be taken into consideration that some women end up in these situations because they go in thinking that guys aren’t looking to commit. It’s true, some guys aren’t ready, but the numbers are probably equal to the number of women that don’t think they’re ready. It simply boils down to the same thing that alwYs causes relationship problems, communication.

  • Krystin Behannon

    Okay, Katie. Have you been following me around Nashville? Because this is my life story for the past few months.

    I’ll be looking for my royalty check. 😉

    • Katie Powell

      Sounds like you’d fit right in with my friends – you get it! Thanks for reading and see you around!

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