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How to Have a Casual Relationship Without Getting Hurt or Betrayed

There is no easy way to say this, but learning how to have a casual relationship without getting hurt is extremely difficult. Some people never manage it. 

How to Have a Casual Relationship Without Getting Hurt

Sometimes a person is placed in your path who you want to be with badly. This feeling might push you to do something you would advise someone else not to do. For example, embarking on a casual relationship that has no chance of going anywhere, simply for the payoff of getting to spend time with that person. Now, we don’t want you getting hurt needlessly in a casual relationship gone bad. And the hurt occurs whatever side of the coin you’re on! You need to learn how to have a casual relationship without getting hurt, but know that it’s extremely hard.

Of course, You might tell yourself that they’ll change their mind. They’ll want to be with you once they get to know you properly. That hardly ever happens. We’re not going to say that it never happens because somewhere in the world it probably has once or twice. But, once or twice isn’t worth hanging on and wasting your life for.

It’s a very common situation, worryingly so. In fact, most people have been in it at some point. The thing is, casual relationships take a certain amount of strength and emotional control, otherwise you risk getting hurt. [Read: How to know if you can handle casual dating]

Wait, what exactly is casual dating?

There are many different variations on the theme, but when you date casually, you’re not committed to one another. You may be exclusive or you may not be. But either way, there is no expectation on either side (hopefully) for the dating to go any further. It’s certainly not considered a relationship.

The issue is that most of the time in a casual dating situation, one person likes the other person more. They might even love them. That’s a recipe for disaster because it’s possible that the other person literally just wants a ‘no strings attached’ situation. Spending a lot of time with someone and even sleeping with them does not mean that they’re suddenly going to change their mind and want to be with you in a committed relationship. [Read: What does casual dating mean to a guy? Are you about to be hurt?]

Of course, this isn’t the case in all casual dating situations. It suits some people very well. But, if you’re someone who has entered into the situation-ship without meaning to, or you catch feelings, it’s not going to end well.

The best of intentions can still land you with hurt

Okay, we’ll admit, sometimes someone tells you they want a casual relationship because they have no clue what they really want. After spending a certain amount of time in this casual relationship, they develop feelings and want a real relationship. It happens, but it’s not a regular situation.

We’re not going to lie and say that it doesn’t happen. It does. The problem is, holding out for this possibility is a risk. [Read: How to read the signs your casual relationship is getting serious]

Most people who say they want a casual relationship say this because that’s exactly what they want—no commitment. Entering into this type of relationship with the hope that it will become more risks you wasting precious time that you could be spending with someone who wants the same things as you.

Lecture over. If you’re sure that you want to go into this casual relationship, do so with your eyes open. Maybe you don’t know what you want right now. You think a casual relationship might be just what you need to give your life a spot of excitement while you figure things out. If that’s the case, and you’re sure, go for it. [Read: Casual dating – 15 reasons why it’s the best thing ever]

How to have a casual relationship without getting hurt … hopefully

Before we delve into this, we want to state here and now that following these steps doesn’t mean you’re going to avoid any type of emotional distress. Casual relationships are hard if you develop feelings. That’s our disclaimer, now let’s explore a little more.

1. Understand what you’re getting into from the start

Know your starting point in order to be able to handle this type of arrangement. That’s what it is, an arrangement that means you spend time with someone, with no promise of an emotional attachment. Give yourself a good talking to and be firm in your knowledge that this is not the start of a big love affair. [Read: Why dating multiple people is actually really healthy]

2. Know yourself – can you handle this without developing feelings?

If you’re someone who easily gets attached after sex or develops feelings quickly, this type of arrangement will end in tears. Rule number one for how to have a casual relationship without getting hurt is know yourself. If you’re sure you can handle it and feelings won’t come into the equation, go for it. If you’re not sure, approach with severe caution.

3. Have a serious conversation

Nobody wants to have a serious sit-down conversation with someone about where something might lead. But, if you want to be sure of what you’re actually getting into, know the facts. Ask this person what they want. Do they want a relationship in the future? Do they want to be single but have perks, e.g. friends with benefits?

Make sure they’re being open and honest with you. Then do the same with them. Obtaining all the facts will be the basis of your journey into knowing how to have a casual relationship without getting hurt in the end. [Read: Casual vs serious: What’s your current dating speed?]

4. Ask yourself if you could handle seeing them with someone else

If you were out walking and you bumped into them with another person, how would you feel? Would it knock the air out of your lungs?

If you do see this, they’re not doing anything wrong because they haven’t made an exclusive commitment to you. Casual means exactly that no strings. But, how would that make you feel?

5. Don’t allow them to become your world

Don’t cancel plans with your friends or family to see this person. If you start doing that, you make them an important part of your life. Feelings are developing or aren’t far behind. Casual means that you see them when you have nothing else to do. It doesn’t mean you make firm plans and cancel your life for them. The chances are they’re not going to be doing this for you either. [Read: How to know for sure if you can handle casual relationships]

6. Don’t mix your circle of friends

Never introduce this person to your regular circle of friends, and make sure that you keep it all separate. If you start mixing your groups, things will get muddy and difficult when things eventually end. And they will at some point. By having a separate outlet, i.e. your social group, you avoid them becoming too important in your life.

7. Always practice safe sex

Of course, it goes without saying that any sex you have with this person should be ultra-safe. STIs and pregnancy aren’t things that go well in casual relationships. These things tend to be life-changing and that’s not the point of an arrangement such as this.

Put your health and your future first. Keep everything safe and protected. That’s even more important if the dating situation isn’t exclusive. [Read: Pulling out is completely safe and other bad sex advice]

8. Don’t think about milestones

If you start to think “oh, it’s three months since we met,” you’re entering rocky ground. Avoid typical relationship milestones and don’t allow them to enter your mind. Save these types of milestones for relationships that have a future, unions that mean something to you in the future.

It might sound cold, and it could be that you have a friendship with the person you’re being all casual with, but if you want to save your heart, be a little aloof and distant.

9. Do not give it a label

This isn’t a relationship, so don’t call it one. We’re referring to it as a ‘casual relationship’ but we don’t mean it in the traditional sense. You’re not together, you’re not one half of a union. You’re not in a situation that has a ‘let’s see what happens.’ No, you’ve chosen to be in an arrangement that is super-casual. That’s all it is. [Read: 15 signs you’re more than friends with benefits and getting attached]

10. Keep everything as light as possible

It’s not the best idea to talk to your casual buddy about emotional things or anything heavy going on in your life. If you do, you enter emotional territory which signals danger for your heart. Keep everything light and fun, and if you can do that, this arrangement might turn out to be a welcome distraction from the heavier things in life.

11. Limit your meetings to a minimum

What your minimum is, depends on you. It’s a good idea to limit how much you see this person, to avoid feelings creeping in. A couple of times a week is certainly enough, but less if you can manage it.

Generally speaking, the more time you spend with someone, the more likely you are to develop an attachment on an emotional level. That’s not how to have a casual relationship without getting hurt! [Read: Learn how to set boundaries in dating]

12. Know your limits and walk away if you start to feel something

Be honest with yourself and know when it’s time to walk away. Most casual relationships are great for a time. Then they run out of steam naturally, or someone walks away because they develop feelings. It’s rare that a casual relationship becomes a great love affair. Not impossible, but it’s a huge risk to hold onto that idea.

If you start to feel the bubble of emotion, do yourself a favor and quit while you’re ahead. [Read: How to leave someone you love – The guide to help you decide]

Is casual dating always bad?

Not at all!

We might have painted casual dating in a negative light but that’s only because you want to learn how to date in this way without getting hurt. Emotions are very tricky things and they creep in without warning.

However, for those who just want something casual and fun in their life, for the time being, casual dating can be a great option. It allows you to spend a fun time with someone you appreciate and you usually get to have great sex. But, know that it’s not going to turn into a grand love affair. Know that at some point, it will end.

[Read: These 14 casual dating rules make or break your casual relationship]

Understanding how to have a casual relationship without getting hurt really comes down to knowing yourself and your limits. Be honest, open, and don’t hope for more than promised. 

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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