If there's one common thread in most people's relationships, it's that at some point, you will probably have to define exactly what you and your partner(s) are doing. Are you friends with benefits? Are you working towards a serious relationship? Are you keeping things "casual?" If you are taking the easy-breezy route, what really is a casual relationship? Well, the short answer is, it can vary from one person to another. But, in order to get a more concrete understanding of what "keeping things casual" truly means, I reached out to a few experts, and what they had to say makes so much sense.
"A casual relationship is a relationship that can be fun and exciting but lacks commitment," dating coach John Keegan tells Elite Daily. "It often can just be solely focused around sex, but you know nothing too deep and nothing that tends to lead to any more meaningful relationship." Diana Dorell, intuitive dating coach and author of The Dating Mirror: Trust Again, Love Again, echoes Keegan's definition. She says that in a casual relationship, there are often no expectations beyond casual sex. "It can also indicate casual dating, which just means you are seeing multiple people at once and you don't have to answer to anyone regarding fidelity or commitment," she tells Elite Daily.
Céline Sauvet, French certified dating coach extraordinaire, defines a casual relationship a little differently. "A casual relationship is a relationship that you could qualify as 'OK' when someone asks you, 'how is your love life?'" she tells Elite Daily. However, Sauvet does go a step further to say that relationships like these don't always last "because at some point people realize that they could be happier alone or with someone else," she explains. While you may be comfortable in your casual relationship, if you want something serious or long-term, Sauvet points out it may be a waste of your time to be in an easy-breezy situationship.
The thing about casual relationships is that you may have one definition for keeping things casual and your not-so-partner may have their own definition, which could lead to confusion down the line. "There's not one blanket statement that defines any type of relationship," Dr. Benjamin Ritter, founder of The Breakup Supplement and LFY Consulting, tells Elite Daily. "Casual for you can be different than causal for another person. For example, casual for some people could actually mean sleeping over during the week, sex, going on actual dates, meeting friends; while someone else would say that all those actions are implying a serious relationship. When it comes to the idea of being casual, it's all about intent."
And in order to establish what you and your partner's(?) intentions are, you need to talk them about it. While having this conversation may seem a little intimidating, establishing what you two are earlier on can help you move forward in one way or another. "Are you dating with the current and future goal of a more serious, longer term relationship? Or are you seeking something casual, which can imply that there is no intention for anything longer term?" Dr. Ritter says. Things that seem like a big deal, like meeting the family, may not mean anything to your casual partner, so it's important to figure out exactly where you two stand.
If you find yourself in a casual relationship, but you realize it's not what you want, fret not — there are plenty of ways to get out of a situationship you're not particularly happy in. Take some time to yourself and figure out what it is you want. "Ask yourself if this relationship is fulfilling to you," Sauvet suggests. "Does it look like the vision you have for your love life? If not, have a healthy talk with your partner. Never forget that every day you get the chance to change something that does not make you fully happy." If you want more than just a casual thing, then you deserve more than just a casual thing.
On the other hand, if you were all for having a casual relationship with someone, and then you find yourself wanting something more serious with them, there are ways to make that work, too. However, "it takes two to tango and that other person may not want [more]," Dorell says. "So, having a conversation about not seeing other people may be in order, [but] be prepared to move on if you aren't on the same page." If you want something more but your casual partner doesn't, then according to Keegan, you really only have two options: You can either accept that they don't want something more and deal with it, or you can completely end things. And while neither choice is particularly the obvious one, "these are the choices we have to make to live the life we want to live."
"Too often people let relationships happen to them, instead of making sure a relationship meets certain criteria," Dr. Ritter says. "Don't let your relationship just happen to you." If you find yourself in a situationship that you don't want anymore (or didn't ever want), you have the power to get yourself out of it. "If you want a more meaningful relationship, and it’s not happening, you can enjoy [the casual relationship] while looking for a more meaningful relationship or cut it cold," Keegan says. If you choose to stay in a casual relationship, you can very well enjoy it! And if you choose to cut it cold, you could open yourself up to new possibilities and new people, who may very well be on the same page as you. Either way, the ball is in your court, babe. You got this!