- Paramount Pictures
- When you begin a new relationship, it can sometimes be difficult to know what the other person might be looking for.
- But knowing what someone else is looking for can help you determine if what they want matches up with what you want as well.
- Recognizing the signs that the person you’re dating wants to keep things casual, rather than work towards a more committed relationship tells you if you’re on the same page or if things might not work out the way that you thought they might.
When you meet someone new, it can sometimes be tough to know what sort of relationship that other person is interested in. Knowing if they’re interested in keeping things casual or want something more long-term can help you figure out if you align on this particular issue.
But sometimes people aren’t always upfront about what they want. We rounded up some signs that the person you’re dating wants to keep it casual.
They’ve told you that they just want to keep things casual.
- Screen Gems
It might sound obvious, but if someone tells you that they only want something casual, that’s a good sign that they actually mean what it is that they’ve just said.
“As a therapist, I will have young women in my practice showing me screenshots of texts and DMs, and Instagram stories all trying to get me to decipher what the guy they are hooking up with is doing: ‘Is he dating someone else? Does he love me,'” Dr. Caroline Madden, PhD, an author and relationship therapist, told INSIDER. “I’ll remind them ‘in the beginning he told you he didn’t want a relationship’ but they will keep looking and looking at why they aren’t ‘good enough’ for the guy they are dating. Why doesn’t he want to commit? It seems like a no-brainer, but listen to someone when they tell you they aren’t looking for a relationship.”
Even if you don’t want to believe it, if they tell you they don’t want anything serious, you should believe them.
They rarely (if ever) plan meaningful dates.
If the person you’re dating doesn’t ever take the time to plan meaningful dates, that’s another potential indication that they might be looking at things more casually. If this is the case and you were hoping for something more committed or serious, you’ll need to have a conversation with them to clarify where you both stand.
“Communication is the key! I recommend individuals share what they want and what they are looking for in the outset and seek these things behaviorally in potential mates,” Ieshai T. Bailey, CMHC, LMHC, CST, a licensed mental health counselor, told INSIDER. That way, there’s no confusion about what you want or need from a relationship.
You’ve never met their family or closest friends.
Early on, you probably won’t meet the person’s closest friends or family, so just because you haven’t met them just yet doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re only interested in something more casual.
But if you’ve been dating for a while and they’re still uninterested in introducing you to the most important people in their life, that could be a red flag that they don’t see your relationship as anything serious. And if that’s the case (and you’re unhappy about that or concerned about it), you likely need to have an honest conversation about it.
“I always recommend straight talk,” Dr. Laura Dabney, MD, a psychiatrist specializing in relationships, told INSIDER. “So many people start to ‘panic’ in these situations and try to win over the person. This has never, not once, worked in all my 20 years of practice. It’s much better to air your suspicions and accept the reality. ‘While I want a serious relationship, I am getting the message that you would rather date more casually, is that the case?’ If he confirms this, then your only real option is to accept it as graciously as possible and let him/her go. This doesn’t mean you won’t feel sad and grieve the loss, but that is so much more emotionally healthy than trying to change someone else.”
They steer clear of deep conversations.
- The CW
Not every relationship needs to be deep or serious or meaningful, of course, but you should be able to have those kinds of conversations with the person with whom you’re in a relationship.
“If the person you are dating wants to keep things light, he or she might not be ready to invest any wasted emotions on a causal relationship,” Latasha Matthews, LPC, CPCS, CPLC, CAMS, an individual, couples, and family therapist told INSIDER.
Not only that, but they might be trying to keep their distance. If you’re having lots of serious conversations, you might find yourself getting attached. And if the person you’re dating doesn’t want that sort of attachment, keeping things light can help them avoid it.
They’re unreachable for long stretches of time.
If the person you’re dating doesn’t respond to texts in a timely manner and lets any and all of your calls go to voicemail, that might be a sign that they’re only looking for something casual, therapist Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC, told INSIDER.
“Don’t take it personally if someone isn’t in love with you,” Swenson added. “This likely says more about [them] than about you, and if it is early days, comfort yourself in the knowledge that [they] couldn’t possibly know you well enough to reject you. [They’re] only showing you that you don’t match [their] fantasy of [their] ideal partner. It’s about [them]. And if [they’re] not interested in you, then [they don’t] match your needs, either.”
Your relationship is all about specific activities.
If you’re only doing certain things with the person you’re dating or only seeing them certain places, that could be another hint that they’re only interested in something casual – not something long-term.
“Typically, as relationships grow and develop, they expand to include new aspects of each partner’s life,” therapist Daniel Olavarria, LCSW, told INSIDER. “If that is not happening, it may be a sign that your partner is interested in keeping things casual and limited to the existing structure.”
They don’t have any qualms about canceling plans.
“If a person continues to come up with excuses and cancels on dates; he or she might want to keep things casual,” Matthews said.
You likely don’t regularly cancel plans with people you have close relationships with – or people with whom you want to keep a relationship with. So if they oftentimes cancel on you and don’t seem bothered by it, that could be a sign that they don’t see anything serious coming of this.
They talk in terms of “me” not “we.”
If the person you’re dating isn’t interested in talking about the future, making plans, or talking about the two of you as a “we,” that could be another indication that things are only supposed to be casual. Swenson said that this could illustrate that there’s no real “we” in their mind. You’re two separate people, not an “us.”
Dates are typically last-minute.
- Summit Entertainment
If you’re just casually dating, plans can come together at the last minute and it’s no big deal. If one or the other of you is busy, no problem. If you throw together a date haphazardly, that’s fine too. If you’re in a more committed, long-term relationship with someone, however, at some point, plans are likely going to be necessary.
“Whether it’s committing to plans for the coming weekend or discussing mutual goals for the future, if your partner seems squeamish about prioritizing your relationship or even engaging in conversation about what the future may hold, it could be a sign that they aren’t interested in enhancing the depth of your relationship,” Olavarria said.
They don’t go out of their way to make you feel special.
- Warner Bros. Television
“If the person does not go out of their way to make you feel special you might be heading towards a casual relationship,” Matthews said. It’s normal to do things for the people that you care about. If they never make any effort to do that, that could mean that things between the two of you are casual and that they might not think that you’ll be around for very long.
“Keeping things casual is not necessarily a red flag unless you want the relationship to turn into something serious,” Dabney said. “If that is the case, then you are on separate pages if your date wants to keep things casual and, instead of putting up with it or, worse, thinking you can change [them], you need to keep looking until you find someone with the same agenda as you.”
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