Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thoughts on Casual Relationships

I spent my weekend at a training in the middle of nowhere. Despite how that sentence sounds, I had a great time. Between sessions, I got to hang out with friends I seldom see and some new friends. We sat up far too late on Saturday, talking in between games of Spaceteam. (Look it up. Trust me.) At 1am, one of the college students in our group received a text. Two of us went into Mom Mode and demanded to know who was texting him at such an hour.
"Just a friend from school!" 
We shared a look. "What is she texting you?" 
He laughed at us and said it was just asking when he was getting back. I informed him that I rarely text my friends at 1am, and if I do it's because one or both of us has been drinking, and if it's a man then I'm definitely not casually chatting. 
My young friend insisted that "it's not like that" and that he "sister-zoned her a long time ago." 
Again, my fellow Mom looked at me. At the same time, we told him, "She doesn't know that."**

The conversation that followed, about hooking up and the games we play with each other, got me thinking. In case you hadn't noticed, I am not of the opinion that you have to be in love with someone, or even want to head in that direction, in order to kiss someone. (OR I WOULD NEVER KISS ANYONE.) You can be attracted to someone and enjoy being around them without wanting to create a relationship. I say as long as you're both interested and honest about what you want, the idea of a casual makeout or even the clichéd friends with benefits is totally fine. You're all adults and you can make your own choices. (All of this is irrelevant if one or both of you is in a committed relationship, since I have a zero tolerance stance towards cheating.) 

And yet so often it fails. Because none of you are listening to me. I have told you repeatedly, through text messages, in person, via email, and probably here: you really can't keep things casual if one (OR BOTH) of you wants more. I have nothing against romantic relationships, except that they're gross and sometimes lead to things like marriage and babies and lengthy discussions about feelings. If that's what you want, go look for it. But I'm talking to people who aren't looking for serious. Whenever you talk about things getting weird with someone you hooked up with, I'm going to tell you that person is struggling with a serious case of Feelings. (Or a case of Thinks YOU Have Feelings--did you text too many times the next day?) When I tell you to be honest about what you want, you have to start with yourself. Some people can't handle casual--and that's fine. You can't force something you're not into. Some people say casual is fine because they want more and figure they can morph the situation into a relationship. 

I know every situation is different blah blah blah. My advice to you, however, remains the same. Be clear about what you want and what the other person wants. Could this turn into a Real Relationship? Sure. Romantic comedies certainly think so. (I also know real people who've been though that, if that makes you feel better.) Is it guaranteed? Absolutely not. If that's your endgame, you have to be careful--you might be disappointed. 

Otherwise you might find yourself texting some boy at 1am while his friends judge your actions. 

**Ok fine. If this is the sort of thing you do, maybe you do know you've been sister-zoned. Maybe you don't have feelings for the person you're casually texting at 1am. Just know that your behavior is suspect. 

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