Keeping It Casual

At certain times in your life, you want to date, but you definitely don't want a relationship. Maybe you just got dumped, divorced or widowed. Maybe you travel a great deal for work and don't want to be tied down in any one city. Or maybe you just don't want the hassles of having to work at a relationship but you do want female companionship.

Casual dating is an option, but it's not as easy as it sounds. You've got to handle it carefully to successfully maintain this arrangement.

Spell It Out
First of all, you must be clear with the woman you're dating. Let her know when you first ask her out that you're not interested in a commitment. If you can, explain the reason that you don't want a long-term relationship. Then gently remind her occasionally that you are not exclusive but you appreciate her light-hearted company.

Preserve Your Space
If you want to keep the expectations focused on a short-term connection, don't get together too often. If you start asking her out every weekend, she's going to interpret your time together as a relationship, no matter what you say. Make your actions match your words, but don't be callous. Show respect for her, but keep the dates no more frequent than every other week.

Build Good Fences
If you really want to avoid implying that you're having a relationship, don't introduce your date to your friends or family. This means you don't invite her to go on double dates. You don't invite her to family gatherings. You don't invite her to weddings or work parties. If you happen to run into a buddy when you're out and about, introduce her as your friend and keep the conversation short.

Guard Your Privacy
To remind her that you're not committed, turn down her requests for dates once in a while. Let her know you've got other plans, but don't provide any details. She needs to be reminded that she has no claims on you. It sounds harsh, but it helps keep the division between dating and a relationship clear for both of you.

Plan for Renegotiations
Keep in mind that one or both of you might find it difficult to keep things casual. Be on guard for changes as you get to know each other better. If feelings start shifting, you'll both need to be truthful and clear about what's happening. Be diplomatic but firm if she's getting emotionally involved and you aren't. If you're the one who starts having feelings for her, recognize that you're changing the rules and she may turn you down.

To be successful with casual dating, you'll have to walk a fine line. Show respect and be honest. But don't get too intimate. And, of course, don't forget to have fun! Isn't that the whole point?

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