We have such a tendency to see everything in black and white, as polar opposites, as two sides of the spectrum, while ignoring all the gray area in between. And something I’ve observed is that many people out there in the dating scene tend to see only two possibilities for relationship. Either you’re looking for meaningless casual sex or you’re looking for a long-term life partnership, and if you’re not looking for one, then it’s assumed that you’re only interested in the opposite extreme.
The reality is that there are so many forms a relationship can take, and what I’d like to introduce is the idea of casual romance, which falls somewhere between the previously mentioned polar extremes.
What this idea suggests is that you can love someone, truly, deeply, authentically and intimately without being attached to any particular outcome, without the need for the relationship to be forced into a life long commitment. You can appreciate the relationship for what it is without having to coerce it into any particular shape or duration. And when you’re able to put aside your idealistic fantasies concerning love, you might have a clearer perspective on the current relationship. You may find that, although you have great chemistry and common interests, you may not be compatible enough to live together. Or it may be that your life circumstances simply aren’t aligned. Maybe you meet someone while traveling or just before you’re about to move to a different city, and the time you have together has a definite limit. But just because you know you wont be able to see each other, does that mean you should deny the time you have together right now?
There could be any number of reasons why the potential of a lifelong partnership may be unrealistic with this person. But this doesn’t mean that you have to reject it . You can still appreciate it for what it is and allow it to run its course. And you can still embrace and express the love you feel for that person. Just because the relationship is not going to exceed a certain time frame, doesn’t mean it can’t be authentic. It doesn’t mean you can’t love that person.
Casual romance is exactly what it sounds like. It’s more than meaningless sex, but less than a life-long commitment. We call it casual because it’s relaxed, without all that pressure or expectation that we generally place on a relationship. It may be short-lived, or it may evolve into a lifelong partnership. But what is most important is that we simply allow it to be whatever it is, by removing our expectations, our fantasies and our demands.
Casual romance is about appreciating the relationship in the moment without imposing our ideals upon it. It’s about allowing the connection to be felt and expressed without the need to define or confine it.
Casual romance isn’t concerned with the future, where the relationship is going, or whether the other person has what it takes to commit to a lifelong partnership. It’s only concerned with the present moment. In fact, you might even be aware that the relationship likely has no future, whether it’s due to personal differences or circumstances, but you’re still willing to honor it for the time being. You’re still willing to give yourself fully to the experience.
Casual romance honors the love that you share with one another. It doesn’t diminish it just because you’re not sure if you’ll be together for the rest of your lives. Casual romance allows for that possibility, but it doesn’t demand it. It recognizes that circumstances change and that people change as well. It recognizes that relationships grow and evolve in many directions. The love you share might be expressed romantically in the beginning, but the form of the relationship could later evolve into something more platonic, which can be equally rich, even without physical affection. Casual romance doesn’t resist the possibility of such a transformation. It’s unattached to any particular outcome.
Casual romance doesn’t put limitations upon relationships, because it seeks no end. Because there is no expectation for life long commitment, there is no need for structure and restrictions. It allows love to flow freely without boundaries. It gives love space to grow, to flourish. It understands that attraction and affection comes in waves, rising and falling, and that not all relationships are meant to last the test of time. Casual romance allows for lovers to drift apart naturally, without the need for tension and conflict, without having to cling and possess, and without having to cut one another out of eachother’s lives. When the romance is drawing to an end, we can simply honor that parting with gratitude for the experience, gracefully letting it go, and cherishing the memories.
Casual romance is not a lesser kind of love. Just because it’s casual in nature doesn’t mean it isn’t deep, genuine, heartfelt and powerful. It’s simply love without the added expectation, attachment and demands. It allows for love to blossom freely, to flow without inhibition, and to grow and to depart without interference.
Sometimes when we try to extend the life of a relationship that isn’t meant to last, we lose the essence of it. It becomes dry. It becomes tense and troublesome. Not all relationships are meant to last beyond a certain point. They offer us whatever lessons we require in that moment, and once we learn what we need to learn from it, it’s time to move on. And when we’re able to part ways gracefully, rather than through conflict, we can always look back with fond memory. We can still harbor love in our hearts, even though we’re no longer together.