Romance

Is Your Casual Relationship Holding You Back From Finding Love?

Monogamy ain’t for everyone; I know that. But what if your nonchalant attitude towards relationships is actually something else? What if what you’re really searching for is love?

Let’s rewind several years. Back to when I was a mess of a young adult. Back when I was trying to find happiness in new countries. When I thought foreign lands would quite literally hold greener grasses.

During this time, I dated a lot. But one man remained constant in my life. I could rest assured that I would never be alone because I would always have him.

That guy is a friend of mine I’ve known since college. We met back when I was living with my ex-boyfriend that I just couldn’t get to leave. I mean, I loved him, but for my mental sanity, I needed to get the fuck away from him.

I met this friend at a time when I wanted to rebel. After spending two years dating a total narcissistic, verbally abusive ass hat, the only way I knew how to cope was to hook-up with someone else.

And on the fateful night that I chose this particular friend, a what would be five-year friends with benefits relationship began.

We had everything anyone could want in a casual relationship: the utmost respect for one another, complete honesty, and genuine enjoyment of each other’s company.

But now, five years later, I’m starting to question what we have. Am I uninterested in finding a relationship? Or am I using what he and I have a security blanket?

I knew one day that what we had would end, I just didn’t think I would be contemplating it so soon. So now I’m at a crossroads: is my casual relationship holding me back from finding someone I truly connect with?

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are a few things to consider:

Longing For More

I’m not talking about longing for a more serious relationship with your casual partner; if you are doing that at all, I suggest you consider ending things.

What I am talking about is when you’re together. Do you daydream about being in someone’s arms that cares about you on a deeper level? Do you wonder what it would be like to be with someone who wants to do silly things with you like layout one night and look at the stars?

Do you catch yourself wondering what it would be like to be with someone who wants to commit?

Within a yes to any of those answers may lie the notion that your heart actually aches for something more than casual.

Not Giving Other People a Fair Chance

When you are trying out the dating scene, it’s sometimes scary, a bit tedious, and downright vulnerable to keep opening up to new people.

But that’s part of the risk you take when you’re looking for a life partner. You keep putting yourself out there until you find the right one.

Unless, you find yourself cutting things off early, and not really giving someone a chance, because you have your casual fling to run back to.

There’s a possibility that you’re not giving an honest effort to the people you’re dating if you have something casual happening on the side. I mean, if there is always a warm body to go back to, someone to admire you, and someone to have an intimate connection with, why would you seek it elsewhere?

Sure, you know your casual relationship isn’t for you, but it’s like jumping all into the pool; except that you partially drained the pool, so only half of your body gets wet.

Or Maybe You Aren’t Even Looking

Again, I tread the line lightly of people that genuinely are comfortable with a non-monogamous relationship. For those people, this doesn’t pertain to you.

But for me, I know I’ve found myself using my casual relationship as a nice little substitute for the real thing. Before I know it, I stopped dating all together even though I am completely aware that I would like to find an actual life partner.

Because even though they’re not forever, your casual relationship is at least familiar and satisfies some of your relationship cravings. If you’re really looking for that special someone though, your casual relationship could be holding you back.

Dating is an interesting game; especially now that people are more open about the different ways dating can even look like. People form all kinds of intimate relationships that aren’t confined to particular labels.

But what it comes down to is listening to what your heart wants. Being true to yourself and not trying to act like the “cool girl” or simply seek comfort in a warm body.

Love is a beautiful thing when we come across it. Make sure your friends with benefits isn’t holding you back from finding it.

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Writer and advice columnist for relationships Follow Kirstie on Instagram or read more articles from Kirstie on Thought Catalog.