Casual dating, summer fling, friends with benefits, f**k buddies; whatever you call it, the biggest threat to your ongoing fun is emotional intimacy or “catching feelings”. It’s hard to fight the temptation. When engaging in a fling you spend a lot of time with that person, pillow talk can sometimes get shockingly personal, and it’s easy for little thoughts about how nice it would be to transition into a real relationship just slip in there. Especially with sex mixed in there it’s not hard for our hormones and baser instincts to overpower our better judgment and common sense.
Read on for 8 tips on how to avoid emotional intimacy in your casual fling.
Set boundaries before hand
The very first thing you should do before starting into a casual fling is to set mutual boundaries. Ideally both you and the person you are having fun with are on the same page. Have a frank conversation about how neither of you are looking to get into a serious relationship or maybe even spell those reasons out explicitly. Maybe you are too busy with work, still in love with someone else, moving soon, or just not interested in a serious relationship. Whatever your reason is make sure the other person knows about it so that they won’t be pushing for more intimacy than you are comfortable with. This is also a good conversation to mentally reference whenever you might be tempted to take the relationship to the next level. Think about both your reasons to keep things casual as well as theirs. This is sure to throw a bucket of cold water on any romantic inklings you might be having.
Keep romantic outings to a minimum
Sometimes you want to be seen out and about with the person you’re sleeping with. In other cases a person to go and share a meal with is a big part of the appeal of going out with another person. However, try to keep these outings as unromantic as possible. This means no candle lit dinners and carriage rides through the park. This is even means no sweet hand holding while you eat tacos and talk about your childhood traumas. Keep it light, keep it casual, and if you can’t do that then keep it in you pants because you aren’t ready for a casual fling.
Don’t open up about your lives
It is so tempting to complain about your day, your boss, your family, or whatever else is bothering you to the person you are seeing. In and of itself this practice is fine. However, be wary when they become the first person you want to tell about anything new or interesting that happens in your life. You should feel free to be friends with this person, but don’t become bet friends. Don’t tell them about how betrayed you felt when you father left for a pack of smokes and never came back. Leave that for your platonic friends, or a real relationship.
Don’t introduce them to the people in your life
One of the most dangerous things that you can do with a casual fling is integrate them into other parts of your life. This sort of action should be limited to serious partners only. Not only do you not want to take the chance that your friends and family actually become attached to them but allowing this person to be a fixture in multiple parts of your life will make it much more difficult for yourself to extricate from the relationship emotionally. Keep the two spheres separate. If your fling is in one compartment and your loved ones are in another, you are much less likely to think of the two together. Don’t think of it as hiding that person, just think of it as compartmentalizing your life.
Don’t let them bond with your pets and vice versa
This goes a little in hand with the last one but I think a lot of people over look it. One of the hardest parts to let go of in a casual fling can be the other person’s pets that you have really bonded with. This can happen easily in as little as a single evening. Nowadays, people treat their pets like they are their children. Bonding with someone’s dog will instantly make you feel as if you are closer than you are in reality. Don’t let the other person feel as if they have a right to your pet and vice versa by trying to keep them as separate as possible. This can be difficult when inviting the other person over to stay the night with any regularity. Just try to relegate Fido to the dog bed in the living room instead of letting him sleep at your feet like he prefers.
Don’t make plans for the future
Keep your casual fling in its place by never trying to plan further than a couple of weeks in advance. If it is truly a fling this is not a person you want to be dragging along to your cousin’s wedding in 6 months anyways. Planning for the future should be left to relationships you actually want to see a future with. Save the planning in your casual fling to planning when to next tear each other’s clothes off, not planning on what sides to bring to thanksgiving… in March.
Keep sleepovers to a minimum
This one is hard, but essential. The athletic part of sleeping together is fun but the actual sleeping together can be the number one killer of good casual flings. There’s just something about falling asleep next to someone, sleepy cuddles all night, and waking up next in their arms that softens even the most hardened of hearts. We just can’t help it. Our brains have just spent the entire night bathing in oxytocin so now the face you see first thing in the morning doesn’t seem too bad as a permanent fixture. Sleepovers are an inevitability. Sex makes us sleepy and it’s hard to convince yourself to go home every single time, but if you want to keep yourself from catching feelings for someone you know you shouldn’t then it’s time to start remembering just how much more comfortable your own bed would be and get out of there.