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September 13, 2012 2:08 AM   Subscribe

Help me navigate "casual dating," or stop deluding myself that what I want is possible.

(asking for a friend)

I've very recently (ambivalently) ventured back into the dating arena after a devasting break-up about a year and a half ago (that I had initiated due to my fiancé's dishonesty). My main motivation was that Holy shit! it's been a year and a half—I need to get laid but good! My ideal situation would be to meet someone interesting—one person—enough with whom I can have fun doing things and have lots of awesome sex on a regular basis. I'm not interested in random hook-ups and I just don't want to deal with either dating/sleeping with multiple people or any of the emotional heavy-lifting needed to sustain a serious relationship, or one that is headed that way—if that makes sense. Just the idea of it is exhausting to me and completely unappealing. And the idea of opening up and allowing myself to be emotionally vulnerable with someone again frankly scares the shit out of me and until it doesn't again, I'm not interested.

Last weekend I went on a date with a guy who contacted me from an online site. Our profiles could have actually been written by the same person in terms of our interests, personalities, what we were looking for, and bonus—he's totally hot so it was a no-brainer (up until then, I hadn't replied to anyone). But due to us both having full plates, we had to set our date for three weeks out. In the interim, we started texting each other every few days (revealing that he seemed nice, smart, and had a similar sense of humor to mine) and he texted me for hours the day before (and drunk-texted me that whole night while he was out drinking with his buddies, mostly flirty, some very forward—the first time his texts have taken this turn) so I believe we both had an idea we'd enjoy ourselves on the date when it finally happened. The date actually went great (yay)! He ended up taking me to a bar for drinks, dinner at a really nice new resto we'd both been wanting to try, and then a cozier bar/lounge afterward for dessert and more drinks, and then back to his place where we had pretty great sex—considering it was first-time sex with someone new. He asked if I wanted to stay over and was snuggling me for most of the night and more lovin' ensued, which was great because I'm a very affectionate person (cue: wow, it really hit me how much I missed physical affection). Drops me off the next morning with a kiss. I text him later to thank him for a great date to which he enthusiastically replied that "Yup, it was really fun!" We've been texting briefly nearly every day since, but he has yet to suggest another date. When I asked on Wednesday if he was busy this weekend, he stated that he had his kid (3 yrs old, from a brief casual relationship) the whole weekend and then he confirmed that he was going to be out of town the following weekend visiting friends when I asked about that. So when I did the mental math and figured out that Well, I guess we won't see each other again for another month! he replied, Oh I'm sure we'll see each other before the end of the month! ;) I then told him my upcoming schedule which, in conjunction with his would literally take us into mid-October. His reply: "Damn." And that was it. Though we've texted since, there hasn't been any other suggestion of meeting up any time soon. To be fair, he's an admitted fly-by-the-seat-of-his pants guy when it came to social things and even on our first date, he hadn't thought about what to do until a couple hours before hand when he texted me for ideas.


So my questions, because I was never great at "dating", are:

1. Does this guy sound like he really is interested in going out again? I am obviously interested (although in the meantime, I do have another date with someone else this Friday, but I get the feeling that this other guy and I have less in common—and physically, while he is also really attractive, not my typical "type") enough to want to see him regularly, but I'm not sure (at least as it stands now) that he's someone with whom I'd want a serious relationship. He'd told me before that the handful of other dates he'd been on from the dating site a couple months before were so terrible and/or boring that he ended up taking a break from it until he ran across my profile. He'd also mentioned that he trains for a few hours every day after work (he's an avid xterra triathlete) and likes having the routine (I also work out every day after work and am training for a race and like that routine so I totally get it), so he didn't do a lot of mid-week stuff (and also because he has his kid mid-week ever other week as well as every other weekend). One of my male friends who I told about the date said that guys were generally terrible at making plans until they had to. It sounded to me as though he was looking for the same situation as I am, and that he wasn't dating anyone else either (at least presently). He also mentioned that it was nearly impossible for him to date anyone his age because he felt like all the women were putting a lot of pressure on themselves and the dates to find a husband and he wasn't interested in that at all right now (to which I agreed—because at that age and through my mid-30s, I did the exact same thing). FYI: I'm 39 straight female, he's 31 and straight.

2. What does it mean to be "casually dating"? Does this necessarily imply that one or both of the parties are dating/sleeping with other people? Or can it mean that both people are dating/sleeping with each other exclusively, just not as a means to leading to a serious relationship—or is that even possible? A couple of friends of mine are insisting that this is not possible, that eventually it will become a REAL RELATIONSHIP, and that I am deluding myself in that regard and also with regard to what I really want. But please believe me when I say that I know myself very well and getting into anything serious right now has zero appeal for me.
posted by violetk to Human Relations (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
1. Yes, but it sounds like you both have very busy schedules - before you'd even met you had to postpone for 3 weeks. Given that at least 50% of the problem is you and your schedule, I don't think we can say that he doesn't want to see you based on the evidence so far

2. I guess it depends how you define 'real relationship'. You want to date the same person, regularly, monogamously and indefinitely? You want to have fun with this person and have sex with them (so not just a fuck buddy). Call me crazy, but that's a relationship in my book. Chances are, eventually one of you is going to want more, or want out so that they can find someone to have a 'real relationship' with. If you really think you can sustain that level of superficial relationship over the long term, I guess your friends are right, you're a little deluded ;)

It sounds like what you want is a summer fling. A flirty, passionate affair that both parties know will never really go anywhere - and that works fine when there is a fixed expiration date. Summer/vacation is over and you both go back to your normal lives and no-one gets hurt.
posted by missmagenta at 2:49 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Okay -

If you don't want commitment, then don't worry about the when's, what-ifs?, what-does-this-text-sent-on-this-date mean stuff? Casual dating is casual. You might seem him, you might not.

If you don't want to be vulnerable right now, don't fret over when a guy you saw once shows up again.

Getting to know someone long enough to have an opinion of their behavior that doesn't sit well with you means you're being vulnerable. Or allowing yourself to be.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 3:05 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the sole reason you want a monogamous relationship is for the physical aspect, have you considered doing that on your own as well? It sounds like it would be the perfect solution to your conflicting dilemmas.

Personally I also think it's healthier for keeping a non-objectified view of people. There's just something inherently dissonant about wanting to be with someone only for what certain parts of them can do to certain parts of you, and not wanting to deal with their wholeness as relational people. YMMV I suppose.
posted by fraula at 4:14 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I asked on Wednesday if he was busy this weekend, he stated that he had his kid (3 yrs old, from a brief casual relationship) the whole weekend and then he confirmed that he was going to be out of town the following weekend visiting friends when I asked about that. So when I did the mental math and figured out that Well, I guess we won't see each other again for another month! he replied, Oh I'm sure we'll see each other before the end of the month! ;) I then told him my upcoming schedule which, in conjunction with his would literally take us into mid-October. His reply: "Damn." And that was it.

No offence, but if you suggested two weekends and then shut down every other date until the middle of October, chances are he's feeling like you two aren't really available at all. I mean, your first date took three weeks to set a date, and it sounds like you're no more available now then you were then.

This isn't really about want, so much as it is about can. It sounds like you guys can't make it work as it stands now, so one or both of you either have to move some things around or accept you won't see each other for a month.

On a personal note, after one date if it was over a month before I'd see her again, I'd not spend that whole month obsessively texting her. If text was the only method of contact on the table, I'd probably say "sorry, this just isn't working." That's way too much casual, pointless conversation. A phone conversation, lunch, Skype, even instant messaging is a lot more conducive to get to know one another.

In regards to question two, I think you're expecting a lot of a partner to only sleep with you if you're unable to make your schedules work more than once a month. Casual dating and sleeping exclusively with one person involves your sexual needs being met, which I am guessing if he is a typical guy, is more than once a month.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 5:00 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


1. Sure, he's interested, but you pretty much shut down any chance of seeing him anytime soon. Make the time if you can as his time with his kid is, of course, inflexible.

2. Casual dating means you see someone without worrying about stuff. You don't worry about the other people he might be seeing/having sex with. You meet up and you enjoy each other's company. That's it.

Seems what you really want is a relationship without the possibility of getting hurt. You want exclusivity without investment. That just simply doesn't happen and doesn't work. Someone has to want to be with you exclusively for a reason. Why aren't they seeing anyone else if it's not a serious relationship? Why is this relationship special if it's not special? You can't have the structure of a serious relationship without the feelings of a serious relationship if you don't want it to be doomed from the start.

I think you can limit yourself to one person, but it's not reasonable to expect someone else to limit themselves, too.

Also, you seem way too concerned after one date for a "casual relationship". As much as you say you know yourself, you must leave room for you to surprise yourself. For example, you really surprised yourself at how much you missed physical affection. I submit that it's possible that you miss more than that.
posted by inturnaround at 5:23 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think you can expect monogamy without commitment or effort. Maybe you'll find someone who is looking for exactly what you are looking for, but you are pretty much looking for a sex unicorn.

Casual dating means that it's casual. No worries, no commitments, no promises.

To be perfectly honest, I had a hard time getting through the dense bean plating in this post. Take a big chill pill, date other guys, and accept that if you're not putting much into a connection with a person, you can't expect too much from them, either.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 5:33 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes, he sounds very interested.

As for casual dating, I think your friend is probably correct, but I'm not sure I agree with the chastising tone of some other commenters here. A "relationship" is just a fancy name for what happens when two people spend a prolonged period of time sleeping together, get to know one another, and become emotionally invested in one another's lives. It's really hard not to develop feelings of attachment if you're having sex with someone for more than a few weeks. That said, some people manage to pull it off and enjoy jumping from one short-term relationship to the next until they find someone that they can't let go of so easily.

If you're just getting over a broken engagement (even if it was over a year ago) then it may be that you're afraid of the idea of getting involved with someone new. That's fine. It's probably a good idea then to date a few people in succession and think about what it is about each relationship that you like, and what it is that is lacking. I think if you're not dating for a while it can be hard to remember what it is you would want in a partner. "Casual dating" is a way of figuring that out by going in to each new relationship with the expectation that you can break it off and move on at any time.
posted by deathpanels at 5:53 AM on September 13, 2012


I do have another date with someone else this Friday ... but I'm not sure (at least as it stands now) that he's someone with whom I'd want a serious relationship.

You've said you don't want a serious relationship. Maybe it would be easier to put the "casual" back in your casual dating life if you weren't so totally infatuated with the person you're dating/sleeping with.
posted by drlith at 5:59 AM on September 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I do have another date with someone else this Friday . . . but I'm not sure (at least as it stands now) that he's someone with whom I'd want a serious relationship.

Like drlith said--you said you want casual, so why are you worried about a serious relationship?
posted by schroedinger at 6:14 AM on September 13, 2012


He sounds like a nice guy who misses companionship too. But like you he's so busy with other stuff it's hard to find time to spare. You're both looking for whole evenings to spend together, well I think that's off the table unless effort is made to make time. And it's hard to make that effort for someone you just met and don't want to invest a lot in quite yet.

You're going to have to rethink what the two of you are considering dates, if you're both so darn busy. You have to make room for each other. Consider it keeping the friendship up, that's what your casual dating will mean here. Friends who might also cuddle and have sex if the opportunity arises.

You can meet for short quick dates - for lunch, for coffee, whatever. The best part is it can be spontaneous, which will probably suit him pretty well. Talk to him on the phone, don't just email and text (so impersonal!). If a night opens up for you, tell him. Also he's still pretty young, doing crazy things like visiting late at night CAN be done every once in a while, if he's given incentive ;)
posted by lizbunny at 6:52 AM on September 13, 2012


1. Does this guy sound like he really is interested in going out again?
Sure, maybe. But it sounds like you have incompatible schedules and, well, why would he suggest getting together when you have already told him that you're busy? The thing about relationships, casual or not, is that they have to work for both people. It's entirely possible to "date" long term, and it not be serious yet be monogamous -- I did it for almost two years. But we were always on the same page and our lifestyles meshed well enough to mak this work. I don't know if this guy is going to be with you there.

2. What does it mean to be "casually dating"? Does this necessarily imply that one or both of the parties are dating/sleeping with other people? Or can it mean that both people are dating/sleeping with each other exclusively, just not as a means to leading to a serious relationship—or is that even possible?
This is exactly what I/we did. I was in a similar position -- coming out of a long term, serious, all-encompassing relationship that ended in a heartbreaking breakup, and this gave my heart a break... but I was able to enjoy the companionship and whatnot of being with someone. We were on the same page with this. It was surprisingly easy for me and I am a person who is easily emotionally attached to people. I don't want to mislead you into thinking it was easy and 100% smooth because it wasn't. But it worked for me until it didn't, and then I moved on.

I've also done the first part of your 2. Does this necessarily imply that one or both of the parties are dating/sleeping with other people. To be honest, there can be a lot of variation with this one. I think it's safe to say that some people will assume that this is okay, and some people will assume that it's not, and some people think you should be upfront and talk about it, and some people think that it's nobody's business. In a nutshell, it's all over the map. When I did it, I kind of went in the middle -- I was upfront if asked, but I didn't volunteer anything, and I assumed it was the same for the people I dated. However, I couldn't and didn't want to maintain multiple scenarios beyond about a month -- eventually I liked someone more (or less) or just got tired of it.

Wow, long.
posted by sm1tten at 7:24 AM on September 13, 2012


If you're basically looking to get laid and not looking for anything serious, why not just ask the guy if he wants to meet up in a hotel on a lunch break or something. Not having enough time to have a whole evening for a date is not the same as not having enough time for some quick sex.
posted by empath at 7:41 AM on September 13, 2012


The guy sounds interested in going out again.

Your lives are both full of other commitments. When you suggested you were available until late October, he probably figured it he'd connect with you closer to the time.

From my perspective, as a former single person with lots of single friends, online daters usually expect to be "dating" more than one person at a time, and possibly sleeping with more than one person at a time as well.

What you want (casual dating with sex) is probably possible, but not if you insist on setting all the terms - this is something you will have to negotiate with the guy. One of the things I had to learn when in that sphere was that I was unlikely to see a guy I was dating as frequently as I had seen my serious romantic partner. It wa also tempting trying to make more out of each good encounter than what it was - especially at first.

If you want to see him again, email or text him occasionally (NOT daily) until you can talk to him about it in person without sounding too intense.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 6:54 PM on September 13, 2012


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