I was having an exciting conversation about the guy I thought was my boyfriend potentially moving closer to my place and I mentioned that I was looking forward to being able to see him more. He laughed and replied, “We see each other enough—we’re casual.” Wait, what?
WTF does that even mean? Casual means jeans and a t-shirt; it means easy, not a lot of thought, basic. The last time I checked, dating someone consistently for months and spending most of our free time together doesn’t scream “casual” to me. What was he thinking?
It made me feel stupid for wanting more from him. Fawning over someone, hoping they want to see me as often as I want to see them just feels so pathetic. What am I to do? Beg him to pencil in some precious free time for my peasant-level company? I’d never classify myself as dependent or clingy, but feeling resistance to my natural desire to see someone is enough to make me feel crazy.
I refused to believe I was being unreasonable. I need more out of this relationship and if he’s not willing to provide it, I’m going to have to reach out to additional sources. I adore my boyfriend and I’d be more than happy for him to be my single source of attention and affection, but perhaps what I’ve learned is that what I need and what he’s willing to provide aren’t equal. I can’t hold it against him but I also can’t pretend I’m someone that I’m not to avoid rocking the boat.
I’ve been down this road before and I learned my lesson. I reflected on his “casual” comment for a few days to really dive into how it made me feel. It actually made me sick because I’d been in a pretty identical situation before of giving way more than I got in return. I felt constantly reminded that he’d be just fine without me. I’m not proud of putting myself in that position, but I learned a lot and I feel like I’d be doing myself a disservice by not paying attention to the red flags and avoiding a repeat.
It made me wonder if he values my worth. There’s someone out there who wants to date me properly, so why should I be investing my time and emotion on someone who feels a “casual” connection to me and is therefore willing to lose me? This is either a full-time arrangement or we need multiple part-time gigs. If he wants to be casual then I’m going to start taking resumes.
If I’m going to ignore my opportunity costs then I want more from him. Opportunity costs are the alternative choices I’ve given up in order to be with him. I’m missing out on all the other great guys out there to be with my boyfriend, so my boyfriend needs to be worth giving all that up for. Something tells me that a dude who sees us as “casual” at this point might not be.
At least I still had options. I could remain in a relationship with a guy who doesn’t take me seriously or I could do something else: ask him to commit more and see how that goes; end things with him and be fully single; take the steps to open up the relationship and become non-exclusive; or remain physically exclusive but become non-exclusive with my time and emotions.
I decided to take advantage of this statement. I don’t have an abundant history of relationships because I’m usually much too satisfied being single in a vibrant hookup scene. To be honest, relationships just bring a level of vulnerability (like this) that makes me squirm. No matter how happy I am in a relationship, a small part of me always pines over my single days and how much fun they were. I decided to tell my “casual” guy that I felt neither single nor taken and as a result, I was considering opening up my options.
He said he’s busy trying to figure out what he wants next in his life. I get it, it’s scary thinking you may be falling for someone when in fact you’re toying with the idea of traveling, finding a new job, or moving to another city. These responsibilities are like tent pegs making you feel tied down and frankly, I knew this when I met him. I knew we had about a year before he needed to make some decisions and yet we both made the choice to pursue this relationship. While I understand, it’s still frustrating as hell and I think I may do some Tinder swiping and try my luck there.
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