By Ella Riley-Adams
You like dating and meeting new people, but you’re not stoked to get serious with anyone at the moment. How do you get what you want without leading anyone on or crushing hearts under your flighty feet?
Once upon a time (in a high school or college far far away), players ruled the game. But now that we’re adults, a player also has to stand in as referee, water boy, and coach. Relationships, even the brief ones, require responsibility. Men and women who never learn to navigate the dating field with finesse are left on the sidelines. So if you want to steer clear of the cold, cold bench, follow these rules:
Initiate the conversation If you have a couple dates and are excited about the connection, put your cards on the table. “Hey, I want to let you know that I’m really enjoying the time I get to spend with you. And, I got out of a pretty shitty relationship a couple months ago–I’m not looking for another girlfriend/boyfriend.” Explain what you do want: “If you’re open to it, I’d love to keep going to dinner every couple weeks or so.”
If feelings evolve, then they evolve. You two can always readjust your expectations as you go. But making your status clear from the beginning will ensure that you can keep things casual and still have fun, respectful interactions.
Draw clear boundaries What does a sexual non-relationship look like to you? You don’t have to get into the specificities with your partner, but at least know for yourself. When you’re crying because your childhood cat died, can you call the person you’re casually dating? Will you buy each other birthday presents? Do you talk about work? Should you make sure you’re also hooking up with other people?
If you notice that you’re consistently crossing the boundaries you set, it may be time to reconsider your non-relationship status by either breaking things off completely or starting a full-on commitment.
Remind your partner where you’re at You go over to your date’s house after drinks; she starts crying because she’s afraid she’s going to fall for you. Despite its appearance, this is not a run-for-the-door moment. Be kind, be gentle, be honest. Tell her what you appreciate about her, but remind her you’re not going to get into anything intense. Reiterate your boundaries.
If your partner realizes that, for them, your situation is a recipe for heartbreak, he or she needs to find someone else who will cater to their current needs. You, on the other hand, keep flying free!