The casual relationship — no commitment, no strings, no exclusivity — for many it is the ideal sort of relationship when long-term options simply aren’t in your immediate plans. As smooth and simple as the word “casual” sounds, when you combine it with relationship — it can get complicated and tricky.
The key to a successful casual relationship is for both parties involved to be aware — and in agreement — of certain rules that will keep their “thing” strictly casual. Otherwise, it is very easy to stray into the “attachment” zone.
Here are nine rules for a healthy casual relationship.
1. You Both Must Be in Agreement
The top rule for a healthy casual relationship is that both people involved must be aware — and in agreement — that they are involved in something casual. You’d be surprised at the number of casual relationships in which one partner does not see it as such. While I’m not suggesting sitting down with lawyers and drafting out a contract — the both of you should, at the very least, have a chat about the nature of your relationship and make sure you both agree. Otherwise, the remaining rules would just be a mute point.
2. Avoid Three Words: “I Love You”
Some people are accustomed to utter the phrase “I love you” quite casually. To other people, they take it literally the first time they hear it. A casual relationship creates the conditions for a “perfect storm” regarding the use of the words “I love you.”
First, there is bound to be great sex. It is easy in moments of intimacy — even when it’s entirely casual — for those three words to slip out. Not because you feel them, but simply because you’ve been conditioned to say them during moments of great pleasure. Second, even though it’s casual, you will still spend plenty of time around each other. This crates scenarios where one of you — be it out of habit, or as a casual saying — might utter those three dreaded words.
The best advice is to actively avoid saying the phrase. No matter how cool the both of you may be with the casual vibe, when those three words come out — as innocent as they may seem at the time — the entire casual paradigm is put at risk.
3. Pace Your Visits/Encounters
I am certain that if relationships were a scientific discipline, my theory — which states how the greater the frequency that two people see each other is directly correlated to the seriousness of the relationship — would be universally lauded as genius. Alas, relationships are mere human constructs, so I’ll never earn a Nobel prize for that theory, but it holds true nonetheless.
To keep it casual, do not fall into the pitfall of seeing each other too frequently. Avoid making plans too far into the future regarding seeing each other. Remember, the key word is “casual.” That means that a phone call the same day of a proposed meetup should be plenty. If your schedules (and desires) match up on that given day — excellent. If not, no problem — there will be another day.
4. Don’t Intermingle With Friends and Family
Meeting the close friends or family of your partner is a big step — more so than many realize. It implies trust in the sense that your partner deems you worthy (or at least that you won’t be a source of embarrassment).
While it may be unavoidable to accidentally bump into someone you know while you are out with your casual partner in public, you should avoid purposefully socializing with either of your social circles. Mingling with friends and family steers the relationship toward the jagged rocks found on the coastline of “stable long-term relationship land.” You don’t want that, do you?
5. No Room for Jealousy
IT IS CASUAL — remember that! There is no room for being possessive of your partner, much less for jealousy. This is one of the reasons why it should be clear in both of your heads that a casual relationship should never imply exclusivity.
You are both free to see other people. You must always be ready and willing to let your partner go if they found someone else — or if they simply don’t feel comfortable with the casual style anymore.
Never inquire as to whom they have been seeing, don’t stalk their social media accounts to see what they do when they are not around you, and don’t ask probing questions when you are together.
6. It Must Be a Manipulation-Free Zone
Any mind games or agendas to control the relationship automatically disqualify a relationship from being called “casual.” In other words, enjoy the moment with your partner and that’s it. Don’t say something or create a situation to see “how they will react?” Don’t “test” them to see where this whole thing is going because — guess what — the whole thing is never going to go anywhere. That is why it is casual.
7. Pillow Talk and Cuddling at a Minimum
Obviously neither of you are cold-hearted monsters. Following sex — unless it was a quickie — there will be an inclination to carry the intimacy over from the physical to the more sublime. While spending a moment or two in a collapsed embrace due to exhaustion from the “event,” or having a light chat about some frivolous topic poses no danger, be cautious. You don’t want to cross the line that brings physical intimacy dangerously close to emotional intimacy — a huge no-no for any casual relationship.
8. Don’t Mark Your Territory
You just never leave a toothbrush or fresh set of clothes at your casual partner’s place. More over, leave NOTHING. No mementos, don’t expect your partner to have pictures of you on their cell phones — NOTHING. To coin a phrase from cheesy spy thrillers, “make sure you leave no trace, as though you never existed.” That is the best policy to follow regarding your footprint in the life of your casual partner.
9. Don’t Give or Expect Gifts
Gifts are tokens of affection given to represent emotional attachments with another person. If you’re keeping things casual why on earth would you want to bring gifts into the picture? If one of you gives a gift, then other will feel obliged to give one in return. Pretty soon your once fun, no strings attached relationship starts hurtling into the abyss of formality.
A no gift policy should be in place. Also, no celebrations of anniversaries. People that are good with the ‘casual thing” don’t celebrate their “one-month anniversary.”
— Final Words on Keeping It Casual —
A casual relationship may not be for everyone, but it can serve a purpose for a great deal many people. Provided that both partners go into it willingly and realize that it is finite — there should never be a problem and both sides should emerge satisfied and free of emotional baggage.