You both lie in bed after sex, feeling like you’re in a French film. You’re almost tempted to smoke a cigarette, if it wasn’t so gross and probably against the building’s fire code.
He isn’t your boyfriend. That’s clear. He’s not after anything serious, and maybe neither are you. Screw it, you’re having fun.
But what if you fall for him? What if it all goes further than just a casual “almost relationship”?
If you’re really serious about having fun and living in the moment, here’s a quick few rules for how to not get attached…
First Rule: Don’t lie to yourself
Some people look at the “almost-relationship” situation and immediately bristle: ugh, why would you settle for anything casual? Just leave and move on…
Personally, I’m not so judgmental.
It’s your call what kind of dating life you need in this stage of your life right now, but what’s crucial is that you don’t end up in an emotional mess because of your choice.
The truth is – “having fun”, “being casual”, “friends with benefits” – these things only work if you’re honest with yourself from the start.
Are you settling for this situation because that’s what he wants? Or are you genuinely ok having a fun time with this guy and not minding if it doesn’t go further? Are you the type of person who gets super attached after sex? Or can you go with the flow and move on if he does too?
Be clear with what you want from the start, and don’t live in hope that the situation will change later on. The relationship could stay in this place for a looong time, or at least until one of you gets bored or decides to be serious with someone else.
Second Rule: Manage your expectations
If you’re not calling it an “official” relationship, then don’t pretend you’re in one.
Maybe it means you’re both allowed to flirt with other people. Or even to kiss other people.
And if that sounds like something that freaks you out, have the conversation about it. Know where the boundaries are. But remember: if you’re ok with a casual situation, accept that this is what it is; don’t put the same expectations on it as you would with a committed partner.
It wont work if you’re both calling it casual, but also, for example, getting jealous all the time. You have to go in with eyes open, or have a serious conversation about whether you want a relationship. But you can’t have your cake and eat it.
Third Rule: Rule out certain “relationship” activities
Hanging out at his parents for the holidays, spending days on end together, daydreaming about future children you might have…
This is all way too much emotional investment, and if you do this enough, you can drift into a scenario where people are constantly asking you “what are you guys?” (even his best friends).
It’s all good to have fun and enjoy your time in a casual fling for a while, but it’s all-too-easy for it to drift into a limbo world of acting like a couple and forgetting what you agreed before it started. Don’t allow this unless you want a messy situation later on.
Final Rule: Keep your self-respect
If he does things that make you feel used, or unattractive, or like you’re not good enough, then always be willing to walk away.
Just because the relationship isn’t serious, doesn’t mean you should settle for anything less than being treated with care and respect.
The most important thing in dating is to protect your self-esteem and not allow someone to shake your confidence, so do what’s best for you long-term, even if that means disappointing him in the short-term. Don’t feel the need to compromise on your values just because you’re having a good time when he’s around.
If we’re being 100% honest, the ultimate advice for how to not get attached in a casual situation is simple: don’t get into a casual relationship in the first place.
But if you are someone who is willing and able to date, have fun, go with the flow, and enjoy being casual, then just make sure you know where the boundaries are to keep things on a path where you’re both being treated with kindness and respect.