Why ‘Keeping It Casual’ Made Me Fall in Love With You

We don’t talk about “what it all means,” “how we feel,” or “where is this going.” I am not your girlfriend, and I most certainly have never referred to you as my boyfriend. I am yours and you are mine. No title. No future plans. No pressure. Just us.

I’m not going to ask you for a commitment, and I have zero desire for “more.” We’re still so young and unworldly. We couldn’t plan our lives around each other when we don’t even know who we are as individuals.

I am in love with you. Not in spite of keeping it casual, but as a result of it. Why on earth did this happen?

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1. Because I don’t have to try to impress you.  You’re not the “marriage material” guy who I worry about scaring off, the vain bodybuilder type who makes me feel ashamed of my body, or the pretentious prep who, despite my best efforts, always makes me look like the slob in the relationship.  With you, I put up no fronts.  You like me freshly out of the shower, all traces of mascara and eyeliner washed away, hair damp and returning to its naturally wavy state.  Maybe this is because you get to shower with me… but your reasons for liking me unadorned cease to matter when you tuck that annoyingly frizzy strand of hair behind my ear, kiss each of my naked eyes, and tell me that I’m beautiful. And when we get dressed, we both think the other is just as sexy in the baggiest of sweatpants or the tightest of jeans (but let’s be honest, we both consistently wear sweats because no sane person likes to be suctioned into jeans).

2. Because spending the night together is optional, not obligatory.  When we first started seeing each other, it wasn’t unheard of for us to spend the day together and then part ways at bedtime.  We were both so used to having alone time.  But after a while, I missed hearing your soft snores and feeling your body heat thawing my cold toes.  For some reason, you missed waking up next to me, my wild hair and baggy Ninja Turtle pajama pants included.  So now we choose to spend the night together on a regular basis.  We’re not in a relationship, so we never feel obligated to do so.  Yet, you would rather share your tiny bed with my bony elbows and knees.

3. Because I don’t have to tell you to tell me how you feel.  Constantly wondering if the guy cares about me as much as I care about him.  Blowing his silence way out of proportion, equating the natural male state of taciturnity with him no longer wanting me.  Feeling my face scorch with embarrassment when I text him something longwinded about how amazing he is, and he texts me back “Thx” or “K.”  None of that applies with you.  Never forcing “feelings” conversations, believe it or not, is healthy and liberating.  You tell me that you have a “big fat stupid crush on me” all by yourself, and I get to be giddy every time you do because I didn’t make you say it.

4. Because we don’t obsess over the past.  Everyone has a laundry list of past relationships (and high school sweethearts and summer flings and one-night-stands and mistakes and BIG mistakes).  In the past, apparently I thought it was a genius idea to explain every last detail of every single dating experience I’ve had to the guy I was with, then have him do the same.  But what good did this do?  Promote openness?  Keep conversation interesting?  Honestly, it would just leave me comparing myself to those girls, feeling irrationally upset that someone else had touched, loved, and mistreated my man, and making me self-conscious of all of the mistakes I’ve made in my own love life.  With you, I’ve never had to dig up my dirty laundry and I haven’t forced you to come clean with yours.  I don’t care about what (and who) you’ve done in the past because I want you, right now, as you are.  What matters is how you treat me: how you reach for my hand when we’re drifting off to sleep, how you make me laugh without taking your sarcasm too far, how you wrap me up in your muscular arms to ensure that I feel safe and wanted.  How you are with me is completely unique.  Those other girls are insignificant history.

5. Because we don’t obsess over the future.  I’m not counting the months, the weeks, the days we’ve been together as a way of gaging when it’s appropriate for us to take the “next step” in our relationship (whatever that means).  We aren’t making plans to take a trip this summer, to spend Christmas together, to kiss each other on New Years Eve.  We do not live for tomorrow, for what we hope will happen, for the notion that things will be so much better in the future.  You and me do not exist on some virtual timeline.  Instead, we are happy, we are present, and we are the best we can be today.

6. Because neither of us has ever said “we need to talk.”  Because I’m not constantly worried about a possible breakup or keeping the peace, I freely speak my mind with you.  When you say something stupid or do something hurtful, I don’t sulk about it with ice cream and Grey’s Anatomy, don’t complain about you to my sister in a boy-bashing session, don’t bottle up my rage and leave it to fizz over another day.  Instead, I tell you what you did, you apologize, and we move on.  We don’t keep track of every crime the other commits to use as ammunition in future fights.  No conversation has ever started with “we need to talk” because we want to talk.

7. Because we aren’t trying to change each other. So you drink too much beer, have loud, obnoxious friends, and can devour an entire pizza in one sitting without remorse?  That’s cool.  I could go for a nice, cold beer while your uproarious buddies provide free entertainment.  And as a matter of fact, I have a few mouthwatering pizza recipes in my cooking repertoire.  So you’re going to end up living halfway across the country to pursue your career goals?  Awesome.  Being with someone who is intelligent, driven, and motivated is unbelievably sexy.  We’re not trying to “make it work” or “plan our lives together” because neither of us should have to alter, adapt, or compromise any of our dreams when we are this young.  We have not lost a trace of ourselves by being together.  In fact, I am a stronger individual knowing that you believe in even my most eccentric aspiration.  You are choosing to be with me for a fleeting amount of time because you see that I am worth it.  And that, my dear, is extraordinarily empowering.

8. Because you’ve seen me naked.  You’ve seen me.  All of me.  Every inch of my pale skin, every curve that no treadmill can cure, every imperfection that I cover up with layers of clothing… It has been under your grasping fingers, your longing lips, your sweltering tongue.  When you gaze down at me, baby blues smoldering with desire and ecstasy, completely fixated on my hazel eyes, you’re telling me something.  Amid the passion and sweat and bareness of our bodies, I am the height of your desire – the only one you want in that intimate moment.  And you are mine.  All mine.

9. Because we don’t have a label.  If I were to introduce you to someone, I would call you by your name with no qualification of your relationship to me.  Others expect me to refer to you as my “boyfriend,” but honestly “boyfriend” is just a word.  It carries connotation of commitment and trust, but is no guarantee against cheating or betrayal.  Maybe that’s why some couples in boyfriend/girlfriend relationships are so uneasy – because they can have the title without the trust.  You and me, baby, we have all the trust without the title.  What we are is for us to understand, not for those wanting us to fall into some ambiguous category.

10. Because I didn’t start dating you hoping we would fall in love.  When I met you, I didn’t have the “he could be the one” moment.  No red hearts, no cupid arrows, no cheesy romantic music.  I didn’t throw all of my cards in, didn’t instantly decide that we’re “soul mates,” didn’t make myself fall in love with the idea of being with you forever.  You’re a completely unexpected part of my life, and I embrace each day with you because I don’t know when our last one will be.  And it is this – this unqualified, outright, no-strings-attached dedication to you – that made me fall in love with you. TC mark

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