There are many reasons you’d want to have a casual relationship, ranging from a bad break up to having no time for a serious one, and so on. You might want to take it slow before you become serious. Commitment isn’t for everyone. Sometimes what you want is something a bit more low key, a more casual relationship instead of something long-term. Just as in any serious relationship, there are certain unwritten laws, which if crossed, would take nanoseconds for the relationship to become a serious one from a casual relationship and you will be left wondering what happened. The problem starts when we forget that even these relationships need maintenance and effort. Being a no strings attached relationship doesn’t make it a free-for-all. For a hook up to be successful and enjoyable you need to understand how to keep things simple, straight forward and even appealing:
1. Keep very few mutual friends.
Relationships are anyway meant only for two people and involving other people makes even a serious relationship falter sometimes. So, keep it low, let in few people, because having friends not only gives the relationship a label but also makes it sound serious if you publicize it. People start seeing you as a couple which doesn’t sound very casual then, does it?
2. Involving the families is a big NO!
This would be taken as the wrong signal by the person you’re involved with. They would take it as a hint that you think of this as a serious relationship. Over and above this, it would also involve clarifying your relationship status to your family members, which would make it all the more complicated.
3. Avoid the three golden words: I love you.
Never use these words in a casual relationship and even if you do, clarify that either you don’t mean it or even if you do, there can be no future for you two together. If you feel like saying ‘I love you’ because they make you feel so good, just tell them that they make you feel good. Saying these three words will take the relationship to the next level, from where things will only get serious or it may even end the relationship for good.
4. Keep the emotions in check.
Don’t get clingy or needy. If you ask for emotional support or vice-versa, that will make the relationship deep and meaningful leading your casual partner to think that you are looking for more than just a fling. If you or your partner can’t ignore your feelings, reconsider the arrangement. Don’t hurt anyone or set yourself up to be hurt.
5. Set the ground rules from the onset.
This would prepare him/her as well as you, as to what to do and what not to do when you are with each other. Awkward and argumentative situations can at least be avoided if the ground rules are set right from the beginning. Talk about dating other people, being involved with other people and say it out loud that it’s okay to do so.
One of the most important parts of making a casual relationship work is establishing and maintaining strong boundaries. Not only does this help weed out the users and manipulators, it also helps keep the lines of acceptable behavior clear. It reduces the chance of sending mixed messages – especially by accident – and thus reducing the potential for heartbreak and hurt feelings. Casual relationships are supposed to be light, fun affairs, not a cause for bitterness and rancor. It’s important that if you want a casual relationship and your partner doesn’t, that you don’t passively accept a change of parameters. It’s one thing to be willing to re-negotiate the circumstances of your relationship; it’s another to have those changes forced upon you (or forcing them upon someone else).
6. Talk it out.
If something is bothering you or if you feel the casual partner has crossed a line, say it there and then; if you keep it to yourself, it might give him/her encouragement. They will continue doing the same things and things will escalate to the next level before you even realize it.
7. Never talk about the future.
Though you both might be clear about not having any future together, it is good to keep things in check with your mouth as well. Make sure you avoid talking about things like how you plan to have your wedding, what you expect from your boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife. This will blow them off immediately if they are in this just for the time being or it might make them serious, even if your intention was just to have a simple conversation.
8. Avoid the couple outings and other couple stuff.
Do not under any circumstances go out with other couples. You might have to succumb to social callings like holding hands, looking out for each other, being referred to as a package and so on. This will lead your partner on to think that you are getting serious about the relationship. Also, avoid the other things like movie dates, long drives, lunch/dinner dates, and so on. I am not saying don’t do these things at all, but keep them in check and make it clear it is not your regular couple type date. Talking on avoiding the “couple” frame here are a few pointers to avoid:
- Calling each other girlfriend/boyfriend.
- Celebrating things like anniversaries, valentine’s day, etc.
- Keep stuff at each other’s places/rooms.
9. Accept the fact that you are not wanted permanently.
The sooner you accept this, the easier it will be to let go when the time comes. It may be that you don’t want something serious, but think of the possibility that your partner too is just looking for a fling. It is not that they do not want to be in a serious relationship or don’t want to get married. But you need to accept the fact that you are not a part of either of those things and there’s no need to feel sorry or bad about that. If you do feel so, then it’s time to start looking for a serious relationship than a casual one.
10. Set an expiry date (if possible).
If you can do this, it will be for the best for the relationship and for the both of you. I am not saying, set a date for the breakup, it could also be setting a date till when you decide about what to do next or whether to turn this into a serious relationship.
It’s worth noting that the whole point of getting into a casual relationship isn’t because people are going to try to trick you if you let your guard down. It’s about avoiding unnecessary heartache and tragedy. Strong boundaries and clear communication make for strong relationships – even casual ones. Casual relationships by their nature are short-lived and ephemeral … but that doesn’t mean that ending them needs to be about heartbreak and bad feelings. In fact, a casual relationship can end up being the basis for an incredible and intimate friendship. But whether you end up as friends or something more, careful relationship maintenance can keep things light, happy and enjoyable for all the parties involved.