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. 21

    To the OP Mandy:

    I’m also puzzled why you would be writing to dating coaches if you are content with your situation. 30 is an age where many women feel some pressure – subtle, or not so subtle – to “settle down”, get married, think about having children. Perhaps that is not something you want or are ready for right now, and why a non-serious relationship is enjoyable for you. That’s perfectly okay.   I wonder if you may be questioning yourself that you SHOULD want something more than this? If that’s true, look for that voice and examine what it’s saying and how valid it is for you.

    None of us can predict what will happen, how we might feel in the future – if you and your friend are on the same page and happy with the way things are…why not just go with the flow? The future has a way of taking care of itself one way or another.

  2. 22

    @Tonya #3
    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”.

    Some people are not comfortable dating, or sleeping with, more than one person at a time. I would interpret a casual yet exclusive relationship to mean the parties have agreed to be open about the possibility of meeting others, but inform each other should  either actually get involved with someone else. That is, they don’t see themselves as ever becoming partners  to each other, but they don’t want to have sex with someone who’s having sex with other people.

  3. 23

    @ Jules:

    You’re definitely describing what I had last summer.   I had taken a little bit of time off from really dating anyone, and had met this fellow online.   We met, and it just kind of happened from there.   We did talk early on, about how we were fine with us seeing other people but that there was a need to be “careful” and to communicate.   And that we did.   And it worked out beautifully.   He was extremely supportive when my Mom got sick, let me vent and cry on the phone when she went in for surgery, etc.   Contact kind of faded towards the end of last year but I did not take it personally and actually went out on a few dates with other people.   He was busy alot, and since we both knew this wasn’t serious, it wasn’t like I was sitting by my phone going boohoo, why won’t he call?

    Now, I have had a couple of non-serious situations where “I” knew this was going to go nowhere, but the guy would act like maybe it could go somewhere.   It used to crack me up because I’d sit there and think buddy, really?   I am NOT that stupid.   I know you’re just here for a shag, but the funny part is that I know this, and I’m just going to let you prattle on about staying over, or making plans one night the following week, because you sound so silly.   Now was that a cynical way to look at things?   Oh perhaps. But I tell you what, it kept me from getting my feelings hurt, taking things personally, etc.   I would just think OK, had a nice time.   Next order of business, please!

    I don’t know if it’s a combination of having been hurt so often that I’ve kind of hardened my heart some to prevent getting stung so badly, learning boundaries, or both, but whatever it is, it’s worked for me in the past and should I find myself in that situation again, it will keep me sane again.   I’ve learned to put boundaries on my heart, to not give it away so easily, and to just watch, listen, and choose when to walk away, or just let things be as they are, have fun, and walk away with a smile at the end.  

    Now if the guy is lying and I catch him, i.e. projecting a future for us, and showing by his actions that that’s not what he wants, then I walk away after telling them to piss off and stop the lying games because I’m not that stupid.   But otherwise, if both parties are OK with it, and truly OK with it, then hey, game on and no judgment.

  4. 24

    I could do the casual dating thing as long as I was not sexually intimate with the guy Since I seem to have a pattern of dating emotionally unavailable men, whom I trnd to get attached to and end up with a broken heart, I am currently seeing a counselor to find out why. Until I do, platonic casual dating works very well.

  5. 25

    I guess I need to rephrase – I have a hard time with the “casual yet exclusive” relationship when basically the woman (me for instance) gets involved with a guy and is desiring long term…and the guy in the beginning seems fine with that notion, and then it’s like the “newness” wears off and all of the sudden she finds herself on the friends with benefits wagon (basically casual yet exclusive).

    Why date a guy who’s seeing other women if he’s sleeping with just you?..(and vice versa). I mean what’s the POINT of that? Sure it’s a great set up if both people are on the same page and really not into eachother to the point of going for more – but iot’s not not when the floor drops out from under you and all of the sudden you’ve gone from gf material to BFW.

  6. 26

    @ Clare:   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.

    TOTALLY on all counts.

  7. 27


    I’m sorry you have found yourself on the FWB wagon not having signed on for that. 🙁

    I believe you have answered your own question: why would YOU continue dating/sleeping with a guy who’s seeing other women if you want a serious relationship? What’s the point of that for you? I understand how disappointing this situation is, but I think you would be happier if you cut this fellow loose. Don’t you?

    When I ended a casual relationship with someone because I came to the place I wanted a real relationship, a big reason is because I wanted to be psychologically open to finding the right guy. I had the vague idea that continuing to sleep with my friend would in some karmic way, prevent me from meeting that  boyfriend. I wanted to start fresh -so to speak – without having anyone else mucking about in the backround.

  8. 28

    @ Tonya,

    Oh that makes sense.   I actually met a guy who was kind of wanting to go that way, at least that was what he SAID.   He SAID he wanted us to be exclusive physically but be OK with hanging out with other people. So what I did was remove my dating profile, because he’s made a comment about our profiles, namely mine, being active. I told him what I did and oooooh all of a sudden, he just couldn’t hack it.   I fought the urge to go OK asshole, I went along with what you wanted but when that was handed to you, now you don’t want it all of a sudden.   I told him to piss off and with a quickness.   I didn’t have time for his games.   I got an apology but I ignored it. I wasn’t going to tell him “Oh it’s OK” because it wasn’t, he lied and I caught him in it, and I know he was only sorry that I called him out.

    When a guy does treat you with disrespect, then it’s time to roll.   I had a few casual situations where they’d ask to do something last minute, and if I really had nothing going on, I’d go out with them, since I knew they were not LTR material and I just wanted to get out.   But mostly if they did pull a last minute number, I just gently let them know that I did indeed have other plans, but maybe “some other time.”   It worked beautifully, they learned that my life didn’t revolve around their texts or calls, and they respected that.

    These situations are very tricky, and can easily hurt you, if you don’t know what you truly want, or lie to yourself about what you want.   I was under no serious delusions about what some of those guys wanted, I knew.

  9. 29

    Hey Selena! I am not in that type of sitatuation anymore thanks to websites like this and Baggage Reclaim.   I was stating a blanket comment in general to the situation of the OP.   Why would you want to be in a “relationship” that’s ambiguious by sleeping with someone who’s just going to leave  when something better comes along if you have “feelings” for them?   Again – it’s fine when you’re not looking for anything serious but if you are, you should be honest with yourself and she seems to be trying to screw with her own head.

    Heather, my first  brush with this situation  was exactly similiar to yours…line for line.   Then that’s when I was like wtf am I  doing???   The whole term “Casual/Exclusive” is a complete oxy moron as it is.   Those two words are opposites!!   After a year I went  no contact.  

    This past March I met a guy online who seemed on board with a relationship – then when things started to turn more “committal” after 2 months  he went nuts.   Started fights with me, found fault, less contact to manage down my expectations…it’s like a switch turned off and all the sudden I was  his booty call. Still dont know what happened with that other than to say  I know it’s not  me but HIM so i broke it off.    

    Last I saw him was a month ago and he texts me last night.   I  kept it cordial and short.   Have no idea what he’s trying to  pull but I’m through with guys BS’g me when I’m entirely serious about finding someone.   And I’m tired of screwing with my own mind trying to talk myself into believing things that wont happen.   I’ve realized as well that it’s WHO I PICK as much as who picks me…so I’m making the concious effort to bail the minute I see red flags and give others a chance that I may have dismissed at first  meet.

  10. 30

    Wow, Mandy is a typical woman who is wasting her prime dating years playing the field.   I wonder whether the other men in her “dating circle” circle know that she is dating a bunch of other men.
    I have no doubt that she will contact Evan in 5 years when she hits 35 and is wondering why she still isn’t married and will probably blame her unmarried status on the men she has dated in the past.  

    1. 30.1

      The problem here is mainly one of language. “Dating” can mean a thousand different things to a thousand different people.

      In my case, I’m 31 and not even a year out from my divorce. “Dating” is a means of auditioning potential casual partners who have the same goals and are interesting, well-rounded, and able to hold a conversation.

      And yes, these are biologically significant years for me – I’m aware. But I can’t force myself to feel ready to commit to another serious relationship. I just don’t want one right now. And I absolutely refuse to rush into a relationship when my head isn’t in the right place   just because I might want to have babies someday. That doesn’t serve anyone – not me, not my potential partner, and definitely not those theoretical babies.

      For those who talk about the importance of time alone after a significant relationship ends: “alone” can have a lot of definitions, too. I’m more alone than I’ve ever been. I’ve had time for reflecting, healing, creating. I do what I want, when I want, travel without consulting anyone else. I’m thinking about what’s best for me and my career, contemplating where I want to live, enjoying time with my friends, and pursuing my hobbies.  But I’m also not going to be celibate if I don’t have to!  

      Listening to other people’s struggles with this stuff makes me feel almost guilty for how easy it’s been for me: I have been enjoying a steady rotation of decent, gentlemanly, intelligent guys who share my enthusiasm for sex, good cooking, the occasional movie, whatever. We’re open about our expectations, comfortable with how things stand between us, and always willing to communicate should things change.

      Yes, in a sense, we’re passing time. But we’re also enjoying  that time. We’re not broken, and we’re not neglecting our responsibility to think about the big picture. We’d be able to commit to the right people if we wanted to. We’re just choosing not to pursue it at this point.

      In much the same way that you might take a year off to attend school in order to advance your career in the long run, we’re taking this time off from serious relationships with the knowledge that eventually, we will move back to the white-picket-fence track. And nothing I’m doing now is going to damage my ability to pursue that if and when I decide that it’s what I want.

      Now, would any of this work if I was secretly pining for any of my companions, or if I actively felt the need to settle down and was trying to deny that? Lord, no! That’s why it’s so vital to be honest with yourself about this stuff. Because if it isn’t what you really want, you won’t enjoy it, and in that case, what the hell’s the point?

        What I’m saying is: it’s possible. Whether Mandy’s lying to herself is for her alone to know, but I think that a part of the reason she’s struggling is this pressure that’s placed on us based on the assumption that if you happen to be of reproductive age and unattached, you should definitely be spending your time looking for a husband. And that’s just not where everyone needs to be, nor can we force ourselves into that place if we’re not ready.

  11. 31


    I don’t know what happened there either, but I can’t help wondering if he was on his “best behavior” those first two months, then reverted to his true personality. Ugh. Better to find that out at 2 mos., rather than 6. Or longer.   Good for you for moving on.

  12. 32

    Mia (#15), men actually do mind if they are “used” by women.   Of course, men might not mind being “used” for sex.   However, I men often complain about women using them for other things, such as leading them on and taking advantage of them by getting them men to pay for dates/entertainment even though the women have no romantic/sexual interest in those men.

  13. 33

    As one who has never liked FWB or very casual dating, I wonder if those who do it deliberately pick someone that they would not want an LTR with? In other words, even if you are rebounding from something more serious, would you just let a really great person go, or are you, on some level, choosing someone with issues that would prohibit a serious relationship anyway? Doesn’t it ever get in the way of finding a real partner because it’s easy and safe?
    @Kurt #30 <<I have no doubt that she will contact Evan in 5 years when she hits 35 and is wondering why she still isn’t married and will probably blame her unmarried status on the men she has dated in the past. >>
    That is a pretty gloomy scenario you have predicted for Mandy. There is nothing wrong with playing the field, for either sex. Who knows how things will go for her in the next 5 years? She could be ready for a serious relationship in in the next few months, and find one easily. Nothing is set in stone.

  14. 34

    @kurt if a woman isn’t ready to jump back into a relationship then what’s wrong with her being casual? Men do this all the time, no one says they are wasting their time.

    If she wrote to Evan asking how to turn this guy into a husband that would be a problem.  

  15. 35

    There are people who avoid closeness without being consciously aware of it .   They may break up when they get too close. Ive had a number contact me on line and if you are aware of attachment styles you may be more likely to identify a guy ( or woman) who may be like this  
    One guy who contacted me, never been married at 45, didn’t want anything serious, couldn’t describe being really upset when he broke up with anyone, and wasn’t involved with anyone for more than maybe 2 years. There was a consistent pattern of not really being that attached with anyone and if you ask enough questions it may become obvious. Some others it may be more subtle but if you look up attachment styles it increases your awareness so you don’t waste your time     

  16. 36

    @ Tonya,

    Yes I have had men do that to me too, and in the last year of learning and developing my boundaries, I was so much better able to see that for what it was, and that often it wasn’t about ME but about THEIR issues, and it was time to pull the plug and roll.   A few would try to creep back into my life and I would either just ignore their texts/emails or just email/text back, not interested, best of luck to you, please do not contact me again.

    @ Kurt,

    So let me see if I get this right. It’s OK for you guys to play the field, do whatever, and have us girls wait on you.   But it’s NOT OK for us to date other men if we don’t have a commitment.   Is that what I’m hearing? Because that is exactly how your post comes across.   I don’t do double standards.   If you men can do as you wish, then we women sure as hell can and will do the same.   If that is a problem for you, then I’d suggest making sure that you “lock down” a girl instead of farting around.   Just sayin.

  17. 37

    Heather, I’m unable to find where Kurt says it’s OK for men to play the field.

  18. 38

    @ Ruby #33

    You pose some good questions. When I was in casual mode I don’t know if I subconciously chose someone I knew I wouldn’t want for a partner – all I knew is I didn’t want someone who would want  so much of  my time and attention. There was one guy I thought after 2 mos. I might be falling for. Ironically, the day after I thought that we were talking on the phone and he broke it off saying “The boyfriend/girlfriend scares me.” I was surprised because we weren’t acting like bf/gf -lol!(Maybe he was picking up on  my feelings before I did?)  I was disappointed, but I got over it in 4 days, so apparently I hadn’t really fallen for him after all.

    My lite relationships we all brief: either he or I broke it off within 3 mos.   I don’t have any experience with  long-term casual  relationships. Thinking about it,  I don’t find the idea of one very appealing.

  19. 39

    Kurt # 32 sounds bitter.

    The guys who Ive heard say women have used them/ taken advantage of them for dates or entertainment often don’t see the cues that the woman is open but decides they aren’t a match. The men Ive known who talk this way are often choosing the “hottest ” women who have the most choices. Also its not often you hear a guy complain that women are taking advantage of him   

    If you want a guarantee you get your moneys worth from a date then get a prostitute   

  20. 40

    Heather, I did not write anything about men playing the field.   Women often claim that men just want to play the field, but in my own personal experience the exact opposite is true – it is the women, not the men, who actually play the field and don’t want to commit to a relationship.   This is particularly true of women when they are young and get the most attention from men.  
    I also know a lot of men who would like to be in a relationship but who struggle because it is difficult to find a woman who takes dating seriously instead of just playing the field – women like this often seem to keep the men in the dark and don’t see anything wrong with accepting dates and letting the man pay.    
    I know numerous women, particularly white collar women, who played this game when they were young and then only got serious about finding a husband when they were in their late 30s only to discover that the type of men they thought they could get to commit at that age didn’t want them.

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