Dating is difficult. Casual dating can be even more so. It’s meant to be fun and free of commitment. But you’ve tried it. A lot. And, for one reason or another, you can’t quite seem to get the hang of it. You end up falling hard for someone, feelings get hurt, and you wonder why you thought this whole casual thing would ever work in the first place. You may be incapable of casual dating, but that only means you care.
1. You love hard.
You always have. Your family, your friends, your dog. You either love or you don’t, but when you do, it’s always 110%. There’s no middle ground, no middle-of-the-spectrum, halfass-bullshit love. When you’ve decided someone is worth your love, you’re firm in what loving hard entails. You’re supportive, you’re available, you genuinely care, you’re considerate; essentially, you’re ride or die. You hand-make cards, you celebrate one-month anniversaries (of when you met and when you started dating), you pick up the phone at 3am when your best friend is drunk and just really needs to talk, you lend your mom $1200 so she can go home to visit your grandmother (but you wouldn’t ever take her money if she tried to pay you back.).
2. You love few and far between.
You’re not like some of your other friends that seem to be dating ALL THE DAMN TIME. You dated someone for a bit last year, but it took you six months to get over a two month “relationship.” You wanted to get over it sooner telling yourself it was just casual, but you really wanted him to be your boyfriend. Even he’s dated a bunch since you “broke up”. You wonder how everyone moves on so quickly. You really take your time after a relationship ends learning as much as you can from it and focusing on yourself. Your last actual boyfriend was years ago. You’re picky and, in hindsight, you may not pick the right ones, but you love the shit out of them when you decide it might be worth your time. After all, “where you invest your love, you invest your life.”
3. You know what you want.
You want labels and strings attached. You want permanent weekend plans. You want someone to answer your call at 3am because you’re drunk and just really need to talk. It’s taken you years, but you finally know (and aren’t ashamed) to know you want a relationship. Not some pseudo, “But what are we?” noncommittal relationship, but a real, “I’d like you to meet my boyfriend” relationship. You want a family someday and you know you won’t get that from casually dating the latest Tinder lineup. You’ve been there, you’ve done that. You may or may not have slept with that dude from that one Lady Gaga video. You’ve had a lot of fun, but now you want to have a lot of fun with one person. You want Netflix nights in your underwear, a gym partner, a travel companion, someone who’s always on your side, someone worth missing. You want all that knowing it comes with bad days too–fights over how much money you’re not saving, long and tired cranky days, their batshit-crazy family, crying for no reason, drunken arguments, and everything else that comes with them because you know it’s worth it. You want something worth it.
4. You hate dating.
You’re exhausted from the hundreds and thousands of dates you’ve been on. So much so that you hate it. The swiping left or right, the bullshit small talk, the meeting for coffee (“Wait, can you meet Thursday instead? Actually, I’m not free until October 17, 2021.”), the never texting back, the finding someone you might really like only to find out he’s “not looking for anything serious right now.” You hate the game and the men (boys) not wanting anything beyond the chase. You hate dating in Neverland within a pool of Peter Pans. It’s not fun anymore. You’re so tired of the flakiness, the disingenuousness, the unstableness of casual dating. For you, it’s caused a lot of hurt feelings for something that’s meant to be so carefree and lighthearted. You don’t want to be a player anymore in such a shitty game.
5. Your fear of STDs is real.
As it should be. If your casual dating involves casual sex, the risk of contracting an STD is high. It is estimated that about 14 million people become newly infected with HPV each year, according to the CDC. HPV is the virus that can lead to genital warts and cervical cancer. Casual dating implies being easy-breezy which probably means people aren’t always asking questions like, “Are you sleeping with other people?” or “When was the last time you were tested?” Especially if you’re in the moment, it’s an easy thing to overlook, or worse, to lie about. But you don’t want to deal with that bullshit. Your body is your temple and you get tested regularly. You plan to keep it that way; your health isn’t worth compromising just to get laid every once in a while by dudes that may or may not really like you.