I Don’t Want Anything Serious. Or Do I?

I Don’t Want Anything Serious. Or Do I?

Evan, I’m in an interesting situation. I have deep feelings for someone in my “dating circle’, have become the closest person to him, and yet I know I am not ready for anything serious, in fact I freak out at the thought of anything heavy. He isn’t ready either, so we’re in the same boat.

I am 30, and he is 40. We just like to watch movies, cuddle, hold hands, kiss, talk…we don’t have to have full intercourse all the time, which I find soothing. He usually gives without expecting anything in return. It’s a very sweet and fun situation, and I want it.

But I am a bit confused, since I’ve never been averse to a serious relationship. He has female friends he hangs out with and flirts with, (which I don’t mind) but he doesn’t have sex with anyone but me. Same with me. I “circular date”, but he’s my only sexually intimate partner. He tells me he highly values what we have. I really do too.

So, my question is: Is it okay to want this, since we don’t want anything heavy right now?

  Any feedback would be much appreciated. Rori Raye recommended you to me and I am very curious as to what you have to say. She told me she’s worried I might be lying to myself about what I want and she’s not sure how he may feel for me. So she directed me to your blog. If a great instructor like her recommends you, you must have some good advice! 🙂



That’s a kind recommendation and I’m feeling the pressure to live up to the hype. Unfortunately, it will be hard to give a solid answer since you didn’t exactly ask a question.

Is it okay for you to want a casual, open, sexual relationship?



No question about it.

The two questions that immediately pop to mind are these:

1.   Why WOULDN’T be okay for you to want a booty call?

For the life of me, I don’t understand. If you’re not ready for anything serious, you enjoy this man’s company, and nobody’s getting hurt, then, by all means, enjoy his companionship for as long as you’d like.

If no one’s getting hurt, two consenting adults can do whatever they want.

There are millions of people who are in these type of “relationships” and I would hope that most of them are choosing this voluntarily, instead of silently suffering, hoping that it will turn into true love.

Which brings me to question #2, originally posed by Rori:

2. Are you sure you don’t want something serious?

If you are sure — if you’re just out of a divorce, if you’re going through therapy, if you feel the need to sow your wild oats, whatever — then this sounds like the perfect temporary arrangement. He sounds fun, respectful, and at peace with the status quo you’ve established.

Again, if no one’s getting hurt, two consenting adults can do whatever they want.

But that only provokes me to ask you why you’d even be asking me this if you were entirely satisfied with the relationship.

Anytime a woman contacts me for dating coaching and says, “My boyfriend—,” I cut her off and remind her that I don’t coach women with boyfriends. Why? Because if you’re in a happy, healthy relationship, you wouldn’t be spending good money on a dating coach. And if you’re NOT in a happy, healthy relationship, why are you even staying with him? Find a new boyfriend instead of complaining that the current one doesn’t call, communicate or commit.

I sort of feel the same about your question, Mandy. From a moral and societal perspective, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an open and mutually beneficial sexual relationship.

The only thing that could possibly be wrong is the thing that I can’t possibly answer: how YOU feel about it?

Because if you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak and can’t handle the long-term ramifications of having a near-boyfriend who won’t commit, maybe it’s time to get out before you get hurt.

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  1. 1

    Help me understand–when people say they aren’t ready for anything “serious” or “heavy,” what does that mean?  

    Not ready to be monogamous? (They already are, seemingly happily.)

    Not ready to have deep feelings? She already does.

    Not ready to hang out with someone on a regular basis? They already do.

    I can understand being ambivalent about a specific person, but what does it mean to categorically not want a serious relationship,   if it doesn’t mean the things above? Maybe I’ve always just been wired for pair-bonding, but I’m mystified.

  2. 2


    It’s complicated.   When I kicked my ex husband out, I didn’t want anything serious, right away.   Meaning, I didn’t want some guy waiting for me to come home, or to have to be accountable to someone, or have to work on a relationship, etc.   I was going through a divorce and wanted to have fun, but wanted to give my emotions a break.   I’d been through alot of abuse and hurt, and just wanted to have fun for awhile, while I let my heart and mind take a breather.

    Doing that allowed me to have some fun, figure out what I really wanted in a guy, give me practice dating, without it being too involved.   I was going through alot with being divorced, paperwork, court dates, dealing with a psychotic ex, and didn’t have much energy left over for a serious relationship, and knew it wasn’t fair to any guy to ask him to go through that, til I knew I was ready to handle things.

    I don’t know if that answered any questions, but that’s how I had and still do define a serious relationship vs. non serious.

  3. 3

    Whenever I see a dating profile from a guy and it states upfront “Not looking for anything serious – just looking for friends and fun”, I immediately  move onto the next profile.   I understand now that what this means is a casual relationship that will for the most part probably will NOT turn into something more long term – and I honestly think some women “think” they can be the one to change the guys mind and for them anyway.  

    To me, when  a guy states this it’s  like a big neon  sign that says “looking for a sex partner only”.    If you’re looking to sow your oats or you’ve just gotten out of a divorce or are separated, this is a perfect set up for  2 people  who just want a sex partner and cuddles – in other words a psuedo  mate without the pressure of actually  having to be there when  life gets tough and overwhelming.    

    What I’m having a very hard time wrapping my head around in the dating world is the logic of a complete contradiction of terms called the “casual yet exclusive relationship”. It’s not any form of reliability and it’s ambiguous on purpose for manipulation tactics when one person is obviously not respecting the others boundaries or feelings. It’s a very limited, immature, and stunted way to have relationships in my opinion.  

    I feel  this situation  is unhealthy for a woman though who is  deep down eventually looking to fulfill the desire for a mate/companion/lover/friend for life.   And it’s pretty much wasting your time (and his) in looking for that future mate!   You cannot find your serious relationship if you’re just marking time with someone else.   She needs to figure out what is wrong with her on the inside to have “deep feelings” for someone yet feel “freaked out” at the prospect of something more meaningful.   Sounds like self sabatoge to me.

  4. 4


    From a female perspective I think the real question she is asking is…

    “Will it feel like this for much longer, or will I start to grow attatched to this man?”

    Yes, she is ok with the way things are now, but how long can any woman stick around with a man who openly doesn’t want to commit?  

    She is “circular dating” which is fantastic in this situation because she won’t focus solely on this non-committal man. I’m a big fan of dating around and building self esteem and an awareness of what you’re looking for. I’m also a firm believer that a very high percentage of women want and need committment at some point. Even if it’s not a husband. We want to be committed to. If this woman is exploring Rori’s ways…It’s an educated guess that she wants it too.

    Sure, it’s great that she’s comfortable now! I can’t get on board with her sticking around much longer. Especially when in her own words she expresses that she likes the non-sexual intimacy and companionship. Sounds like strong feelings are budding!

    Of course there’s always the possibility he will simply develop love for her and ask her to be his girlfriend. I just hope she’s not setting herself up for frustration and disappointment.


  5. 5

    I re-read and I just can’t see it as “a mutually beneficial sexual relationship”.

    Mandy says something like “We don’t have to have full intercourse…”  

    Doesn’t sound like she’s in it just for sex. Just not buying it! I sense her desire for deep and meaningful.  

    No strings is just not the road to deep and meaningful.  

  6. 6

    Ive done that situation before after I was divorced. Even if you tell yourself you want nothing serious it becomes impossible to fight the biology of bonding a woman has for a man through sex. Evan gave a balanced and thoughtful answer but I also caution Mandy that she may get hurt.
    Sometimes people are afraid of being “serious” because of their attachment style ( (Eg avoidant attachment)   

  7. 7

    @ Kathleen,

    It depends, though.   I dated a couple of guys after I left my ex, and there was no really strong attachment formed even after being intimate.   I guess because what I went through may have overrided the bonding?   I don’t know, all I can say is that I knew I didn’t want anything more than a good time from a few folks I went out with.   I was just enjoying having a great time with a few nice people, but knew ultimately I was not going to want a long-term, committed relationship with them.
    @ Tonya
    Yes, I do the same thing now too.   Like EMK says, if a guy tells you he isn’t interested in anything serious, believe him. I had a couple of guys contact me who were interested in seeing me but most of them I just replied back and said sorry, I’m not looking for a fling, but best of luck to you. Most were either very polite and thanked me for at least letting them know, some never wrote back, a few got downright rude, which had me cracking up laughing. Those, I would read and think wow, even IF I didn’t want a serious relationship, you’ve got serious anger issues so I wouldn’t even have a fling!   I divorced that, I’m not going there again!
    If I’m on a dating site, I’m not looking for “new friends.” I’m looking for a relationship and I make that very clear.   I appreciate the men who are at least honest about what their wants/needs are, but at this point in my life, it wouldn’t work in the least.

  8. 8

    I am honestly confused by women who say they don’t want a relationship yet continue to date. I do understand why people might get concerned about being chained down or obligated, but that means they are not in the right relationship. For example, the idea of spending all my spare with a partner and losing my independence and having to check in with him all the time sounds nauseating to me, hence why I find guys who share my views that being in a relationship does not mean spending every Friday and sat night together, burrowing away alone and ditching friends, etc., and being joined at the hip. Casual dating won’t work for me or most women bc casual dates often get flaky, ask you out at the last minute, and don’t call when they say they will. Even circular dating doesn’t work too well for me – if I really like a guy who can’t give me the commitment I need, it doesn’t make me feel better to date others and hang out with friends all the time. So I recently started cutting out anyone who was treating me casually.    

    Not sure why this woman is setting herself up for heartbreak.   

  9. 9

    @ Mia,

    Well again, look at people like me.   Just out of a very bad marriage, no energy left over for a real relationship, but I’d be damned if I was going to sit inside every Friday night, alone.   I wanted to meet new people, do happy hours, go dancing.   I joined Meetup groups to meet some new folks, but I also enjoyed the company of a guy, having fun, flirting, etc.  

    Guys date casually and if guys can, we can too.   Now, are there alot of cases where a woman may be heading for heartache in this situation?   Absolutely.   But not all of us are going to get hurt if we’re dating a guy casually.   In fact what is funny to me, is that the few guys I did date casually, and it was made pretty clear up front by both parties, where we were, were the least dramatic relationships ever.   In fact, one fellow, I still talk to.   He knows I’m in a serious relationship right now, and we just say hello on Facebook, stuff like that. Those guys were the most honest and some of the nicest guys I ever met.   I so appreciated the honesty and openness.   There were no games, no drama, no lies.   It was wonderful!

    It just depends on where both parties are, where their heads are, etc.   This woman may very well be heading for heartbreak but it’s hard to tell.

  10. 10

    Unfortunately I really do think that there are literally millions of women who are suffering in set ups like this. I keep hearing about all of these women who can have this kind of relationship and not get hurt. I even know some women who think they can have this kind of relationship and not get hurt but it always seems to end in tears and regret. Maybe it is just the type of people I am hanging around with but these situations seem to be best avoided unless you have experience of this in the past and know you can handle it.  

  11. 11

    Frankly, unless both people are absolutely certain they won’t get attached, I’m not a fan of these sorts of relationships. I think it’s very difficult to keep feelings in check when you are sleeping with someone. This is basically a FWB relationship, and those almost never work. Somebody, usually the woman, begins to develop deeper feelings, and Mandy has already said that she is feeling that.
    So what’s going on? Despite the fun times, either there is something about this man that is keeping Mandy from making a long-term commitment, or deep down, she knows the guy isn’t feeling it for her. She wants to continue the relationship, but is afraid to admit that she wants more. There have been times in my own dating life when I’ve told myself that I could handle the uncertainties of a casual relationship, but I discovered that I really couldn’t.

  12. 12

    Although not my thing, I can understand how such arrangement could appeal to someone who wants the best of both worlds: the intimacy and other benefits of a relationship without any expectation of emotional responsability and of progression. Some people do not want any responsability or expectation placed on them, and yet want the day-to-day good feelings of a relationship. A case of having your cake and eat it too!
    If you go for this kind of arrangement, I’d suggest to establish clear boundaries to yourself and the other party to avoid falling in the trap of bonding without having see it coming, and without having really chosen the person you find yourself bonded to. I’d limit the activities to temporary fun. Might be more than just sex, might involve cuddling and cooking dinner, but I would avoid meeting more than once a week, sleeping overnight, going on gateways, or starting to look for emotional comfort in that “relationship”.
    And that’s what is especially difficult to do (or not do) for women: not becoming attached when sharing on-going intimate activities. No doubt that some ladies can, but most can’t, especailly longer term. Works better if the guy himself establishes such boundaries by not sleeping over, by not meeting her more frequently, etc. Such behaviors would prevent some increasing level of bonding and would naturally keep the arrangement short-term. However if he allows that to happen because he likes the cuddling and the cooking too, then the woman has greater chances to start feeling attached and developing greater expectations, even if “she is not ready”, or even if “he is not LTR material”. And that is the danger of such arrangements: finding yourself bonded to a guy still prioritzing his freedom, or finding the both of you bonded and slipping into a LTR but with a partner you did not choose for the real deal.
    An important thing to take into consideration is time. Can you waste some time? Can you imagine yourself single for the next few years? If yes, why not going for such pseudo-relationship? But if you are over 30 and imagine yourself one day with a husband and a couple of kids, I’d suggest to stop wasting time on such “relationships”. The worst than can happen is NOT him leaving because you become more attached, but him becoming attached as well and the both of you slipping into a LTR because “it was comfortable” without having made sure you both have similar values and long-term goals. That’s the best way to waste your thirties and find yourself single at 38 wondering if you still have time to find a husband and have kids before your biological clock has run out of batteries.
    Now if we are talking about hurt feelings, well any kind of relationship will trigger hurt feelings. If the goal is to avoid pain, it’s best to stay out of ANY kind of relationship.

  13. 13

    I thought “circular dating” meant seeing multiple men and NO sex with any of them. Many of the previous posters have stated what I would’ve: 1. are you wsting your time  because your real goal is a real relationship? 2. Don’t expect this to morph into a true relationship; it won’t.

  14. 14

    It sounds like to me that MiMi is lying to herself because she is doubting the ability to have a non committal relationship with this man.  

    If you take the time to write two dating coaches, your not okay and you are seeking approval from someone else.

    I suggest being real with yourself.


  15. 15

    These kinds of relationships are only good in limited circumstances. I recently had an amazing, uplifting fling for a week when I was out of town with my friend’s friend, and we had a great emotional and physical connection. However, he was unlikely to be ltr material – lived 10 hours away, did manual labor for a living, and other reasons – so the fling was rejuvenating and special for both of us. These things have only worked for me when I am out of town, or am about to move, or they are about to move, or there is some time or location restraint, or they were married/attached  – otherwise, no way in hell could I stomach it with some single guy living in the same city who I met in some more formal dating situation. Think of it this way: How would most women feel if that same guy they thought they were ok   being in a casual thing with was with another girl the next night, or just stopped calling them for 3 weeks? Women don’t want to feel used, whereas guys really don’t mind being used a lot of times.

  16. 16

    FWB relationships certainly can work, with the right people at the right time.   I had a situation like this with a man for a couple of years, off and on.   There was great chemistry between us, and we had great conversations and went out and did fun things together, but a couple of big deal breakers that prevented either of us from wanting a committed, LTR.   But neither of us was seeing anyone else at the time we met, so we agreed to keep things casual and continue on, while dating other people.   Our agreement was any time one of us got to the point of becoming intimate with someone else, our time together ended.   We wound up back together several times over a couple of years when we were both between relationships.   It worked out great, for BOTH of us.

    Being in that relationship did not prevent either of us from seeking out other more suitable partners.   And it filled a void.   As the saying goes, I’d rather have some of my needs met than none of them.  

  17. 17

    @Jules I had a similar experience with a man for about a year a few years back. He was a great guy, we both really enjoyed each other’s company. He was a good deal old than I was and was clearly not LTR potential but I enjoyed our time together, we drifted in and out of each other’s lives for about a year, sometimes we slept together, other times we just had great phone conversations. I walked away when I met my ex but i have no regrets and neither does he.

  18. 18

    For me, I detected the first signs of inner conflict in Mandy’s letter, despite her protestations of “not being ready for anything serious”.

    She talks of feeling confused, and of her “deep feelings” for this man, and then of course as others have mentioned, the fact that she is writing to Evan in the first place. To me, these are the first signs of feeling uncomfortable –  asking for advice,  conflicting feelings. I’m not saying it means she wants a serious relationship with this man; how things pan out from here will depend on any number of factors – the depth of her feelings for him, his feelings for her, what they  each want, emotional readiness etc. I know when I was just out of my divorce, I was unable to give anything emotionally to a relationship and I was more than fine with a casual, non-exclusive set-up. But I always knew that this had a time limit.

    For what it’s worth, I think women inherently crave certainty and security in their relationships, and most, monogamy. And I think they will often experience this inner conflict until they get it. But as each person and each situation is unique, I believe VERY strongly that your instincts will tell you whether to stay in a given situation, and for how long.

  19. 19

    Maybe I’m being a bit cynical here but I would suggest that when someone says ”i don’t want a relationship” and yet still is involved in the trappings of one (regular meeting, sex, enjoying company) its probably more of a case of ”I don’t want a relationship WITH YOU”.   Either that or, as a way of self protecting, rather than using an EMK type of statement (this is what i want, this is what you want good luck with your search), they use the ”not looking far/don’t want statement rather than risk appearing needy or at a different place to the other person.

    The other option that actually this is a FWB/FB thing and she need some reassurance that this is OK…which it would be if only there wasn’t so much doubt involved.  

  20. 20

    There have been times in my life where I was open to meeting someone, but didn’t want anything ‘serious’. Long before I ever heard the term Friends With Benefits – I thought of these situations as romantic friendships, or lite relationships.   For me, it was about timing. I had been in a long co-habitating partnership that ended. I’d spent the months, year grieving for that relationship, doing the introspection, and retrospection required to figure out why it ended, what my part in that was, what I would do differently in a new relationship. When a long partnership ended I felt a terrible void. I hadn’t realized until he wasn’t around anymore how much time, space and mental  energy I had devoted to that one person. And it took a long time for that void to close.

    Eventually I came to the point I wanted sex and male companionship and the fun that goes along with dating someone new. But I wasn’t ready to get into another partnership. I didn’t want someone who wanted to spend most of their free time with me. I didn’t want to have dinner together every night. And sleep over every night. I didn’t want to relinquish the remote control.    I didn’t want to be responsible to, or for, another person. And make the continuous compromises that come with being a partner. Or even a serious girlfriend.

    So I was upfront about not wanting anything serious with men I met when I was in this mode. And these ‘relationships’ – such as they were – were fun and friendly and in a sense, self esteem builders. It’s cool to have someone who thinks you’re attractive and fun! 🙂 Even cooler to not have someone nag you, or put expectations on you because you are their girlfriend.

    I found these lite relationships to be short lived – a month, maybe up to 3. Not much drama when they faded away. I liked that Evan used the word temporary – that’s exactly what they were. Looking back, I see them as bridges. I used them to cross from one partnership to another over time. Had I gotten serious while I was on the bridge, I probably wouldn’t have been a good partner. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t open enough, or capable of the giving that a partnership requires. In one of them, I broke it off because I felt I wanted to fall in love again. I realized I wanted, as was ready for, a real relationship, a real boyfriend.

    Whatever term you use to call them, these relationships aren’t without risk. Sometimes one person does become more  attached than the other and hurt feelings may be the result. But that is the same risk we all take when dating…even when we don’t put the *casual* tag on it.

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