An increasing number of companies use zero-hour contracts. These agreements are where an employer isn’t obliged to provide any minimum working hours (or benefits), although the employee must be available for work as and when required. Of course, this makes it difficult to plan, amongst other things.

A casual relationship is one where one or both parties enjoy the fringe benefits of a relationship, such as sex, attention, and a shoulder to lean on, without the commitment and expectations that come with what we might typically expect of a relationship.

When an involvement is predominantly about sex, defined as Friends With Benefits (or some other seemingly palatable term), or features reluctance to be defined or invested in, it’s the romantic equivalent of zero-hour contracts.

Casual (and open) relationships can work well if mutual.

To be clear, that’s not faux mutual like ‘Yeah, sure, I’m cool with this’ while privately riddled with anxiety and trying to audition for a committed relationship.

Essentially, mutual means you’re coming at things from a place of equality. You both have boundaries and are genuinely open and honest about what you’ve agreed to. No hoodwinking, blindsiding, or managing down expectations to crumbs. Definitely no exploitation of ourselves or others and vice versa.

Most people are not okay with being treated and regarded casually. We’re not! Despite what we say and do, all humans want and need to matter in our relationships. It’s not about mattering more than the other party but as much as. We don’t like the feeling of someone picking us up and discarding us at will. While economic circumstances might mean we have little choice at work, we have a say in our romantic relationships.

Our feeling safe and valued matters. We want to be treated with due care. We feel unfulfilled and unable to be more of who we really are when somebody goes out of their way to ensure that they don’t have to be concerned about us. Fulfilment isn’t on the cards, either, if we act, intentionally or not, as if we don’t care about ourselves. Selling ourselves short doesn’t feel good.

If we were more honest about our discomfort, we’d create healthier boundaries and make better agreements. Don’t settle for ambiguity, ambivalence and instability if it ultimately messes with your well-being.

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