I’ve given out a lot of advice over the last few months. Maybe it’s not all great advice, and I can appreciate that – no one can really give advice about anything they don’t have personal experience with. (At least, not perfect advice… And even if you’ve been in the same situation, there’s no way to tell if your outcomes are still going to be the same – people are different.) But there’s one question I’m asked a lot, mostly by “real-life” friends. The exact words are a little different every time, but here’s the gist of it:
I want to meet someone… but I don’t want to be in a relationship. I like who I am as a person, but I’m still feeling burned from my ex. Plus I’m really busy and don’t have time for a relationship, but I don’t want to just be a hookup either. I have trust issues, but I’m also really horny and really lonely, but I don’t want to be with a player – but I also kinda really don’t want to be in a relationship. Here’s my ten-page list of requirements in my perfect non-partner partner.”
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit – not all of these things are in every question. Usually, there are a few main components that ring true for all those who want a non-casual, non-relationship, casual relationship. (I’m getting exhausted just typing all these word circles – I can’t imagine dealing with them rolling around in my head… I salute you for dealing with the confusion.
But, it’s important to realize that that’s all any of that mess up there means. It means you’re confused.
Let’s lay out the basics here.
- You want to date someone.
- But, you want to be single.
- You’re emotionally unavailable and not ready to give your heart to someone new.
- You probably also have feelings for your ex still.
- You’re too busy to put any real time into a relationship.
- But you want someone else to put time & effort into you.
- You need to get laid, like, yesterday.
- You’re not actually happy with yourself, despite saying you are.
- You don’t want to be someone’s casual fling.
- But you want them to be your casual fling.
- But nothing is casual because you just handed them a list of criteria they’ve got to meet before you’ll consider being with them.
- But you’re sooooo lonely – and horny!
Does that sound about right?
This isn’t meant to come across as judgmental. We’ve all been there a time or two – sometimes, what you want becomes a little foggy, and you really don’t know what you want. You have this list of requirements that you yourself don’t exactly meet, but you figure maybe the perfect person will come along and just fix everything.
The only problem is that, half of that list is complete B.S., and the other half is hypocrisy.
You want to date someone.
Some of us just feel better when we’re with someone. I can’t really fault you for that – I like being with somebody just as much as the next guy. It’s human nature for (most of) us to want that connection with someone else. But if your desire to date is stronger than your desire for the person you’re dating, you’re going to end up hurting someone – possibly even yourself.
But, you want to be single.
Most people who are “open to a relationship with the right person” are, in fact, looking for a relationship – they just don’t want to call it a relationship. Often, the confusion leads us to want our own freedoms, but want someone else to be loyal to us. Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.
You’re emotionally unavailable and not ready to give your heart to someone new.
Dating someone when you’re emotionally unavailable is most likely going to mess things up even more. Once you do start to develop feelings for this person – which usually ends up happening – they’re going to be upset to find out that you weren’t completely honest about things. If you’re emotionally unavailable, you’re unavailable – emotionally – which isn’t a very fair position to put your partner in.
You probably also have feelings for your ex still.
No one gets over their ex right away. Even if it seems like you’re over it right after the breakup, all this really means is that the process started early and you were too stubborn to admit it. The reason it’s so hard to give up our feelings to our new partner when we’re still stuck on our ex is because we’re not supposed to do that! It’s not fair to your new partner to have to share you with someone who’s not even in the picture, and it’s not fair to you to try to force your affections in two directions. Get over your ex first, and then look for someone new.
You’re too busy to put any real time into a relationship.
Hey, I get it – I’m busy, too. Pretty much anyone with a lot of ambition is going to have time commitments, and there’s never a shortage of more. Personally, I’m a workaholic – but I make sure to take time to build my relationship, too. Because that’s what the experts do, and I want to know just as much about love as them – so I follow their advice. If you don’t have time to spend with someone, get a fish – partners shouldn’t be there on your demand.
But you want someone else to put time & effort into you.
One of the cardinal rules of dating is treat her how you’d want her to treat you. Do what would make you happy – and if it’s not something you’d offer, don’t request it. How would you feel if you poured all this time and effort into a woman who couldn’t be bothered? Chances are, you’d dump her. Don’t be “that guy”.
You need to get laid, like, yesterday.
In fact, you need to get laid so bad that you’re willing to completely overlook the risks associated with casual sex. Even though you don’t want casual sex – you want a relationship on your own terms.
You’re not actually happy with yourself, despite saying you are.
If you were really happy with the single life, you wouldn’t want to date someone right now. People who are truly happy with the single life don’t seek out a partner – they let a partner enter their lives naturally. Be honest with yourself, and the people you talk to.
You don’t want to be someone’s casual fling.
Because who wants to feel like they’ve been used just for sex? Not most of us.
But you want them to be your casual fling.
Because you want to call all the shots.
But nothing is casual because you just handed them a list of criteria they’ve got to meet before you’ll consider being with them.
If you set rules, it’s not casual. End of discussion. I’m pretty bad about this myself, and that’s probably why I’m not good with the whole hookup culture. I’ve got a list of rules surrounding how I eat a slice of pizza, do you really think I’m not going to have rules governing my dating life, too?
But you’re sooooo lonely – and horny!
And really, this is the only thing that big, long list boils down to. There’s not really a problem with being lonely and horny – but you need to realize that dating is not meant to simply fill these two needs. Relationships are complex, and entering them for the “wrong reasons” is a bad idea – you’re setting yourself up for pain and heartache down the road.
Would you want someone who came with the stipulations you did?
This is the real test here. If you would genuinely be happy with someone who came across with your exact same specifications (keep in mind, the list of requirements pretty much says you wouldn’t), then go for it – as unrealistic as your expectations are, there is a chance that someone will come across and answer every little wish.
But, more likely, that perfect person doesn’t exist. Most likely, the person you meet is not going to live up to every requirement you’ve put down, and that’s partially because you’re being dishonest with yourself. It’s easy to say we have all these requirements, but when it comes down to it, “lonely and horny” means we’ll probably settle for someone who meets any of our requirements.
This isn’t always a bad thing, either, as long as you can learn to face your fears. But the truth is – if you’re that eager to settle – then none of your “requirements” are actual requirements. You’re just guessing at what you want, when you don’t really know.
By facing our fears – the things we “won’t deal with” that we actually probably would – we are taking away their power, and this is a huge step to self-confidence building. If we keep all those little barriers up to mold the “perfect relationship”, all we’re really doing is limiting our options – possibly to only include deceitful players. Do you really want to limit yourself to only being with someone who’s willing to lie to you?
Contradictions are not particularly attractive.
Many women want a little mystery in their lives, and this can make us think that “confusing = sexy”. But confusing is not sexy, and in most cases it’s incredibly off-putting. Sure, there are some people who would love to date someone who doesn’t know what they want, or who get off on challenges and see you as a tough nut to crack, but really, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
If you don’t want to be with someone who wants a relationship, you’re not going to attract people who want to be in a relationship. You’re going to attract people who are looking for the same things you are – which is both “nothing” and “everything”. Duality totally works in some areas of your life – but this is most likely not one of them.
By avoiding a serious relationship, you are directly removing yourself from the line-of-sight for people who are looking for a serious relationship. And you’re doing it to yourself. Generally, people who aren’t looking for anything serious will still date you – but that’s not what you really want, remember?
No one deserves to have their feelings used against them, of course. But if you’re going out of your way to keep your true intentions a secret, or if you really don’t know what they are anyway, you’re going to draw a lot of attention from those who are confused and/or manipulative. You’re inviting yourself to be exploited and simply hoping that the other person doesn’t do it.
Relationships need to be a two-way street.
You are allowed to have requirements in your relationships. You are allowed to have expectations set from your partner. But you are demanding something that you wouldn’t offer in return, it’s not healthy. Relationships need to be mutual, even if they’re casual. This is why I prefer the term partner – because if you’re doing it right, you’re equal partners.
This doesn’t mean you need to openly share your financial information with someone you’ve been on two dates with, nor does it mean that you can’t do the whole casual thing. You just need to make sure that you’re being fair. Don’t abuse someone to heal yourself.