They’d been dating for about 4 months. Everything seemed to be going great. They got a long really well, had similar interests and goals, shared beliefs and values, and simply had a lot of fun together. But all of a sudden one day, she seemed to back off. Just like that. No warning. No communication. No answers. A few weeks later they reconnected, and this is what she told him:
“I’m just not ready to commit to this level of dating. Can we just keep it casual?”
And with that, “casual dating” – the lamest excuse ever- strikes again.
I cringe whenever I hear this phrase. Though many people use the term in an attempt to maintain space, push off commitment, stall for an answer, or implement some distance- in my humble opinion, what it really means is this: “I want you – minus the commitment part.”
Doesn’t sound so appealing when you put it that way, does it?
Part of the problem is that in this day and age, we have a tendency to really complicate dating. I mean, why else is it that (according to a recent poll called the State of Dating) over 60% of singles are confused as to whether or not the status of their interaction with someone is actually a date?
We either try and avoid commitment by condensing a relationship into nothing by calling it “casual”, or we amplify it to a pseudo-marriage of sorts. But dating is neither of those things.
Dating is simply INTENTIONALLY getting to know someone that you’re romantically interested in. It’s taking it one step deeper.
Whether you’re a male or a female, it’s time to do quit with the “casual”thing, and take responsibility for your life and relationships by calling things for what they are.
I love the simple verse in Scripture that encourages us to let our “yes be yes”, and our “no be no” because no matter the issue, it reminds us that honesty, intention, and clarity are so important when it comes to our communication with others- including others of the opposite sex.
Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. If we seriously applied this rule to how we interacted with the opposite sex, the “maybe” of casual dating would vanish instantly within the certainty of yes, let’s do this- or no, let’s not…
Here are a few points to think through if you are stuck at the dead end of casual dating:
1. Are you past the point of casual? There is a time and place for casual. That time is called the stage of the firsts. First time meeting. First conversations. First dates. In the early stages of dating it should always be casual. No thinking ahead, no commitments, and definitely no promises. It’s a time of knowing and becoming known. It’s a time of testing interactions, communication, and attraction between two people. The first few months of dating can be considered casual, because the direction up ahead is still unclear. But what makes a relationship turn from casual into committed? The answer is always time.
Within a few months, the very nature of a relationship turns from casual into committed. The time that you spend together, the conversations you exchange, and the affection you begin to develop can no longer be considered casual. Once you have entered this stage of a relationship, there should be no going back to the twilight zone of ambiguity and uncertainty. The future is either a YES, or a NO. Time should always eliminate maybes, and if it hasn’t- then the maybe is currently a NO.
2. Consider what it is about casual that makes you comfortable: If you are the one that is longing for casual, you need to ask yourself why. Either the problem lives within you, or within the relationship. For some, the baggage of their past brings fears of future, failure, commitment, and permanency. For others, the relationship itself is not all that they had thought it would be. They see flaws within the relationship and they’re filled with doubts, fears, and worries about the future.
Rather than helping you make a decision, casual dating keeps you stuck in confusion longer than you were ever intended to stay. Because the longer you stay in a relationship, the harder it is to get out- even when you know you should (trust me…cause’ I’ve been there, done that.) It paralyzes you from making a choice, and keeps you stagnant in mediocre rather than moving forward toward fulfillment. If you are comfortable in a casual relationship, you need to really consider what it is that is keeping you from moving forward, and be quick to deal with whatever that thing is.
3. Realize the cost of casual: For those who are living within the comfort of a casual relationship, there is always a cost. Relationships are meant to be exciting, fulfilling, and healthy. They are made to grow, to stretch, and to mature. They are meant to deepen in intimacy, connection, and in love. If you are at a stand-still within the world of casual, you have to really ask yourself what you are missing out on. There is always a cost. Casual will always take the place of passionate. Casualty will always win over certainty.
Maybe by holding on to casual you are keeping yourself from a relationship that could offer you so much more. Maybe by waiting for things to magically change, you are missing out on the change that could be taking place inside of you. Maybe by clinging to complacency in a relationship, you are saying yes to casual and no to finding true love.
The one thing to remember about relationships is that they are not as complicated as we make them. Healthy relationships are natural. Healthy relationships are comfortable. Healthy relationships progress every so easily, deepen ever so quickly, and develop ever so passionately. There is no room for the “maybe” of casual when it comes to finding true love, because true love is certain. So no matter what side of the relationship you’re on, it’s time to give and receive answers. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.
It’s time to let go of casual, and step into something intentional. You won’t regret it.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!