(If one more person with a spouse asks me, “But have you tried online dating?
” I swear I will scream.)It’s easy to let your mind go wild with “the grass is always greener” fantasies and convince yourself that marital status equates some kind of superiority. Trust me, I’ve been down this rabbit hole a thousand times and the only place it leads is straight into an entire row of Oreos.
On the other, I’m definitely not giving every potential partner a fair shot, and I’m giving guys who aren’t really right for me way too much of my heart too soon. But we’re also human, you and I, and when all our romantic energy is directed at just one person (even when it’s “so low-key”) we will not be able to keep things casual forever. Things like physical and emotional boundaries can help keep a relationship casual, but keeping more than one person in the mix will also keep feelings in check and remind you that you’re “out there” as much for yourself as for the people you might meet.Within the world of non-relationships, there are distinctions because alas, we are millennials and we can't stop disrupting industries, relationships included. So if I were to try to explain to my dad, who is consistently flabbergasted by the dating habits of our generation, what the difference is between being friends with benefits and casually dating, here are some litmus tests I would propose: And not just in the throes of passion. Unless, of course, you originated in the same friend circle before you started sleeping together. You don't need to be aggressive or needy; you can just be like, "You're cool with us just sleeping together, right? " Just don't do ask these things in the middle of sex if you want a straightforward answer. (OK, yeah, I definitely wouldn't talk about any of this to my dad.) Hand holding? The more I apply myself to truly “casual” dating, however, the better I’m getting. Tall, dark and handsome is not exactly what I mean.From working on my communication skills to understanding what I’m actually looking for in a partner, there’s a lot to learn from casual dating. It is simply impossible to put a full stop on the feels if you’re seeing just one person. You may find yourself drawn to blondes or tall guys or guys in leather jackets, but if you take stock of the guys you’ve dated you’ll probably find that they have more in common than their hair color or outerwear preferences. I’m drawn to guys with a goofy sense of humor, favor being outdoors over hitting the gym and aren’t very emotionally available at the moment. (These are exceedingly common threads among the romantically challenged.)I can’t tell you exactly how to break the mold (hello, still single over here) except to say keep trying.You might stay friends with some; some you may never speak to again after your second date.Just keep your mind open to the possibilities (and remember to ask them for podcast recommendations). As well-meaning as they are, married people have an uncanny ability to come across as condescending when they’re aiming to be helpful and supportive.I can’t seem to tie said feelings down anywhere in between “no” and “ahhh omg so much yes!”I’ve come to decide that this is both good and bad. (OK, forget the slice.) Still, while you could talk about all of these things with someone you casually get it on with, you can feel in your bones when you are actually connecting and a little bit falling for each other outside of the bedroom. These are all things that you're probably only talking about if you are connecting on some sort of emotional level.