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What exactly is a casual relationship? Common questions answered.




Back in February I shared my experience on getting comfortable with long-term singlehood.

But I told a little white lie. Sort of. I mentioned that I hadn't been in an official relationship in seven years. Which is completely true. What I didn't mention is that I have been in what you would consider (or what I like to call) two casual relationships, both roughly lasting 18 months. Not only that...but I've been in a new casual relationship since March.

For the most part, when I have a casual relationship it tends not to be public knowledge. But when someone has found out I get a barrage of questions (and confused looks). Questions that I am going to answer today. Maybe you'll decide that a casual relationship is something you would like to explore. Or maybe you'll decide it sounds like the worse thing ever for you personally, but you'll go forward with a more open mind towards people who have chosen this style of dating.

So what exactly is a casual relationship? 

In a nutshell, it's somewhere between friends with benefits and a serious committed relationship.

Where exactly the line between casual relationship and serious relationship lies is up to the people involved. For me personally, I still go on cute dates, have sex, get to know the person really well, maybe even buy them a birthday present. What I don't do is introduce them to my parents, or take them to the office party, have much evidence of it on social media or - this is the important bit - plan a real future them.

Have a think, chat it out with the person you're seeing and decide what a casual relationship should look like for you.

Aren't you afraid that you'll miss out on someone real if you're messing around with someone casual for too long? 

First off, it's 2018 and we shouldn't be assuming that everyone's end game is marriage.

Secondly, this is the reason why I have limited record of my casual relationships on social media - so prospective partners don't mistake me as spoken for.

Thirdly, I identify as polyamorous and wouldn't consider a serious relationship unless the conversation of ethical non-monogamy was on the table (but more on that later).

Do you end a casual relationship after a certain amount of time or just let it run on? 

I personally let it run on for as long as both parties are happy for it to. Other people might choose to put a time limit on it from day one. It's everyone's own choice.

Aren't you just delaying an inevitable break-up? 

Since I identify as poly and I'm not overly fussed about finding myself a life partner, my current casual relationship might carry on for the rest of my life. Most people are surprised to hear that my previous two relationships lasted 18 months - but both my exes were not fussed about finding a serious relationship (though they didn't identify as poly).

But if you are someone who ultimately wants a serious monogamous relationship, you will need to accept that you'll be delaying an inevitable break-up. But if you're respectful and honest with your partner - and no one is in love - the break-up should be swift.

Do you break-up with a casual partner the same way a serious partner?

100%. My second casual relationship even bought me a break-up pizza.

Would you date or have sex with other people? 

While it is up to the individuals involved it's generally my advice that expecting commitment and monogamy from someone you're not serious with is possessive.

In both my previous casual relationships, I didn't actually sleep with anyone else but was still swiping through Tinder and went on one or two dates (that didn't lead anywhere). Both these previous relationships were slightly unhealthy in the sense that I felt a little bad about dating other people - and I recognise now that I should have had a serious conversation with them and potentially ended it if we weren't on the same page. Thankfully, in my current relationship we communicate about the other people we're seeing and get excited for each other.

Remember: if you are sleeping with multiple people it's really important to practise safe sex.

What would you do if you met someone serious?

As I mentioned earlier, I would never enter a relationship that would only ever be exclusively two people. My current casual partner feels the same way and we have already had the conversation where we've agreed that (assuming circumstances don't change) that if either of us did meet a life partner, we would continue to date and would become secondary partners.

Are you sure that you're not just a commitment-phobe? 

I had/have my reasons for not being official with any of my casual partners, and those reasons still stand. Being with them in a serious capacity didn't feel right and I don't regret letting them "get away".

Do you want a serious relationship or do you prefer casual relationships?

Sometimes I respond to this question with "none of your business" BUT if you're really interested...

...I'm not opposed to having a life partner however it's not something I actively look for. My first casual relationship was actually the least healthy relationship I've ever been in - I was aggressively set up with the person, they weren't honest for three months about only wanting something light, and I learnt more about what I didn't want more than what I did want. My second casual relationship had a few issues, but not nearly as many as the first and I was happy during the 18 months I was with them. My current casual relationship is the healthiest relationship I've been in, with a mature adult who wants the same thing as me and knows how to communicate their needs (and listen to mine).

As long as you listen to your gut, communicate with your partner, and don't string anyone along a casual relationship can be just as a fulfilling as a serious one.

If you're not hurting anyone, then you're not doing anything wrong.

P.S. I'm happy to answer any (respectful) questions! 
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