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Whatisacasual,non-exclusiverelationship,anyway?

Chrissy Sharma
3mo Story
What is a casual, non-exclusive relationship, anyway?

To me, a casual relationship is one where two people connect emotionally, and sometimes physically. A lot of people might call a casual relationship "friends with benefits," but I say not necessarily. A casual relationship is one where there are no demands or obligations, someone who you have a casual relationship with is just that - casual. Inconsistent, temporary, relaxed.

A non-exclusive relationship entails that there's no commitment. This is not a serious relationship - either party can date around.

So, together, a casual, non-exclusive relationship is an inconsistent, uncommitted relationship. To some, this might sound like a mess. To me, it sounds like exactly what I want out of a relationship at this particular moment in my life.

When I shared this with my friend, she couldn't understand it. I was updating her on someone I started seeing casually and non-exclusively, and our conversation went something like:

But don't you like him?

I do, but I don't want anything serious out of this.

Well, are you attracted to him?

Somewhat. I'm entertained, at least.

Someone's bound to catch feelings and get hurt.

Let's hope our communication is clear enough for that not to happen.

I've learned that a key to being in any relationship is communication. Clear communication, where both people are honest about what they're looking for and how they're feeling. 

That shouldn't change for a casual, non-exclusive relationship. If both people are on different pages, the relationship will likely fall apart.

Being in this situation gives me freedom. Not just to date other people and see what I'm interested in, but to work on other areas of my life. I need career satisfaction, mental and emotional stability, and independence before I can let my walls down for a serious relationship.

I'm not someone who likes to feel anchored. I'm not barring myself from a serious, committed relationship, but for now, it's just not what I'm looking for. 

I recently became comfortable with dating again. I was in a serious relationship that didn't work out, and in the year that followed I found that I was rarely even attracted to people, let alone okay with installing new men in my life. 

For me, something temporary and not serious is perfect. This kind of a relationship gives me room to figure myself out, to be okay with having someone in my life, to test the waters with different people and see what works for me. A casual, non-exclusive relationship for me is a way for me to take things slowly.

Call me a commitment-phobe, but this is what works for me right now. I feel more independent than ever, I feel connected to myself, and I'm loving the freedom of no strings.

The way I see it, as long as I communicate what I want as clearly as I can, and I listen to the response, any kind of a relationship is okay. Labels or no labels, commitment or not. 

I've heard a lot that "millennials ruined dating" or "millennials are killing the bees" or whatever they're saying about millennials these days, but I am so thankful not to live in a society where everyone expects a serious relationship or bust.

We can do what works for us. As long as we're clear about it. We can define our relationships as we please. So I'm going to take my casual, non-exclusive relationship and run with it. 

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1 comment

  • Rachel Borowicz
    Rachel Borowicz Software Engineer & Arts Philanthropist
    3mo ago

    This post was really interesting for me. I've been wondering whether my ex boyfriend felt the same way you described above. It hurts, but I think he did.

    This post was really interesting for me. I've been wondering whether my ex boyfriend felt the same way you described above. It hurts, but I think he did.


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I write for Tangerine Bank, Thought Catalog, Observatory Media, and my own personal blog at sipswithchrissy.com. I'm a recent UofT grad with a background in writing, event planning, marketing, and mentorship. I've helped build a road in a rural community in Thailand, planned an orientation week for [...]

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