I don’t think there’s such a thing as casual dating. This annoys me because I LOVE the idea of it, and really, really wished it work, but I just don’t think it does. At least not for me and my friends. But first, let me be clear on what I mean by “casual dating”.
Girl meets boy. Boy takes her out; they have a good time and a sneaky pash. They repeat this, upgrading to a sexy sleepover, but she doesn’t stop seeing other guys and he doesn’t stop seeing other girls. They’re basically just enjoying each other’s company in and out of bed. They haven’t made a commitment to be exclusive, so it’s just a great big juggling act, trying to guess where the other person's heads at and keeping enough distance to reflect that.
And herein lies Problem Numero Uno: you’re both clearly attracted to each other and enjoy each other’s company, which is the perfect set up scene to enter ACT 2: Hero and Heroine Become BF/GF. Except when you’re casually dating, you’re not meant to let it get to that stage.
But boy is that a near impossible feat and before you know it, you’re texting every day and you're excited to see him. Eeek! ‘Cos you see most of us really only know how to relate to the opposite sex in a boyfriendy/girlfriendy way when we’re attracted to them. So even though you enter this thing thinking it'll just be casual, you inevitably end up interacting with them the way you would a bf/gf. And with that comes expectations. Outwardly, you might be saying, ‘Nah, it’s totally fine to cancel on me with half an hours’ notice to go out with the boys – it’s not like we’re together or anything! What, I’m cool?!’ But then inside there’s a mini explosion of emotions going on – sting of rejection, anger at not being his priority, self-doubt, wanting him to like you. And the cherry on top? Feeling like a bit of a psycho cos all of this goes against the No 1 rule of casual dating: No Feelings.
Which brings me to Problem Numero Dux: science. It turns out that when girls have sex, we release oxytocin, known round the traps as the "cuddle hormone", which is responsible for attachment and bonding. This means after you’ve had a bit of a roll around, you’re uncontrollably falling in love, and you can’t turn these feelings off just because it’s meant to be casual. See, even science is against the casual thing.
After you’ve had a bit of a roll around, you’re uncontrollably falling in love, and you can’t turn these feelings off just because it’s meant to be casual.
So why do we casual date then when, let’s face it, it’s a bit of a head f@ck really?
Well it’s the best excuse for us to protect ourselves, I guess, especially if you’ve come out of a serious relationship and not looking to enter into another one anytime soon. By saying you want to keep it "casual", you’re allowed to have your emotional walls up, so that when it’s over (because that’s what you expect) you can cushion the blow of rejection. Or use it as your Get Out clause.
I’m not saying that you can’t have a relationship with a guy unless you think it’s going to end in marriage, but I am saying that if you think just by saying, “It’s casual”, you’re protecting yourself from getting hurt, you’re fooling yourself. Of course we can all physically casual date – and we should – I just don’t buy it that it’s that easy to emotionally casual date. So get on Twitter, flirt with guys at the club, go on a billion dates, enjoy being wined and dined and build your confidence up. But think carefully before going into a casual-sleeping-together arrangement. Because when you're intimate you may end up sharing more of yourself than you planned to, at which point it stops being so casual.
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