Recently, a few people have asked me for advice on a situation that typically goes as follows:
“I’d really like to meet someone for dates / fun / companionship / affection / attention / sex but I’m not looking for a relationship. I like my life right now / I’m still feeling bruised by my previous relationship(s) / I’m super-duper busy and would find it difficult to give myself over to somebody / I have trust issues / I’m really horny / I just don’t want to be on my own. How do I go about meeting somebody? By the way, I don’t want to be with a playa or somebody who treats me casually and they must be _________”–cue list of requirements.
My response tends to go along these lines:
So let me get this right: You want to start dating but you don’t want it to progress into a committed relationship because you like your life too much / you’re emotionally unavailable and basically not over your ex or your past / you’re busier than a president or prime minister / you have difficulty trusting people / you need to get laid / you basically don’t like your own company so are looking for somebody else to give you self-esteem and to shield you from your issues?
You want somebody who doesn’t behave like they’re in a casual relationship or who isn’t flat out avoiding one, to be with somebody (you) that doesn’t want to be in a relationship which would make it casual and who is in fact avoiding a relationship?
Isn’t this a ‘relationship’ all on your terms? Also, if you’re not interested in a relationship, why are there so many caveats and peeves?
Part of the reason why so many people encounter issues with dating is down to a lack of honesty, as in, we can be very contradictory about our needs, expectations and desires and we don’t all date for the same reasons. While plenty date with a genuine view to finding a long-term partner, many date with the view to enjoying the fringe benefits of dating without the ‘hassle’ of emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally contributing and eventually committing. Sometimes their attitude is, “If they’re that special, my reticence about being emotionally available and committing will disappear”.
There’s nothing wrong with not wanting a relationship. None of us are under obligation to commit and if all we want to do is get jiggy, have a chat, an ego stroke and a sense of someone being there, there are people out there who will take on this role because it’s all that they want too. The problem isn’t in not wanting a relationship; it’s expecting to subjugate people who want something different to your terms.
If you’ve been treated in this way you have to be careful of doing the same to others. That’s your litmus test: if somebody came to you with this proposition, would you be happy with it?
Never has it been so easy to collect attention, to go on a dates that don’t go beyond one or a few, or to get laid – just go on a dating site or lurk around in a bar. If you want a friends with benefits or ‘companionship’ scenario, there’s someone out there that’s only too happy to oblige. Part of the reason why people are dishonest about their intentions is because they know that in saying what they really want, it ‘narrows’ their options to casual which may be ‘too real’.
If you want a quality relationship or would struggle with the emotional consequences of getting involved even if it were casual, you have to step up and deal with your fears so that you can have the relationship that reflects your true needs, expectations and wishes, not some ill thought out contradictory concept that opens you up to more pain.
The type of situation outlined above isn’t particularly attractive to someone, unless they’re the type that gets off on a challenge, possibly because they haven’t got the self-esteem to turn you down.
Why would someone who actually wants to eventually be in a healthy, mutual relationship be with someone who doesn’t? Of course, this is why a lot of people who don’t truly want a relationship intimate that they ‘might’ change their mind or even say that they do at the outset and then find ‘sudden’ reasons to backtrack on something that they weren’t truly going to do in the first place…
Being contradictory is exactly why so many people end up being the ‘Buffer’ in a rebound relationship or the rainy day activity pack in an unavailable someone’s life who just wants to pass time and avoid themselves.
Ambivalent people who don’t know what they want or do know but don’t want to be honest about it, end up with people who are also contradictory or who will exploit their ambivalence.
There is something very ‘off’ if you feel entitled to seek out or have relationship-minded folk while not actually being genuinely available. It’s also a big problem if you continue the involvement on your terms knowing that the other party is being compromised.
If it’s not mutual, it’s not healthy.
If you don’t want a relationship right now or even ever, be honest with you about those reasons so that you don’t end up setting you up for a fall with contradictory requirements, plus it’s an opportunity to listen to you and discover how to meet your own needs, expectations and wishes in an authentic, healthy manner. If you wouldn’t be content with being regarded as an emotional airbag, boredom soother, attention supply, or Dialacompanion or even Dialalay, don’t treat others this way and dress it up as oh-so-special, because really, it’s not.
Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to “please” or protect yourself from others? My new book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (HarperCollins/Harper Horizon), is out now.