"How do you know you should break it off with someone you’re just seeing casually? We’ve been friends for a while, and we care deeply for each other, but we know we aren’t “the ones” for each other."
Dear Casual and Confused,
Your causal situation is one that many young adults and adolescents face. Being in a casual relationship is easy and fun, it allows for a lot of the fun of being in a relationship without the pressure. It can be hard navigating casual relationships because they arise gradually sometimes and out of nowhere. Like you said, you were bored, and now you are rethinking the relationship a little. No matter what type of relationship you have, it’s important to: communicate clearly, listen to yourself and be honest.
Ask yourselfwhat you want. It’s really important to take the time to evaluate the way you feel — it’s a great way to figure out what exactly you’re looking for. Your happiness in a relationship is the most important thing, and I suggest taking some time to ask yourself these questions:
What do I like about this relationship?
What do I like about the person I am casually seeing?
Am I getting what I want from the relationship?
Am I looking for something serious?
How will the friendship look after we end things?
These questions are important to reflect upon when examining the stability or value of a causal relationship.
I also want to remind you that you can date someone who isn’t “the one.” There is a lot of social pressure surrounding the idea that when you date someone it has to be because you may want to marry them. That is not the case; you can absolutely date someone who you have no intention of being lifelong soulmates with. When you are in college, a big part of dating is figuring out what you like and what you do not. If the person you are seeing isn’t “the one,” you at least learned something about yourself.
Once you have figured out how you feel about the relationship, then you can decide what to do next. If you realize, “ I do not like this, and I want to end it,” then take the next steps to end it. But, if you realize you enjoy the situationship, then there is no need to end it.
Deciding to break off a casual thing can be complicated and having a serious conversation when you’re in a casual relationship can be really hard and feel awkward. We’ve all been there, and it’s nerve racking, but communicating clearly is important for your own sake and theirs. If you are ready to have a “break it off” conversation with them, there are various ways to go about it.
You can do it over text if you are very nervous; while that is not ideal, it is one way to get the conversation over with. Start the message with something like, “Hey I’ve been thinking about…” to get the ball rolling. If you are more traditional and prefer to do things in person, meeting up for coffee or going on a walk is a good way to start the conversation. Sometimes speaking your feelings can be very difficult, but once it’s over a weight will be lifted off of your shoulders.
However, if you realize that you have developed feelings for this person it is important to communicate that. Expressing your feelings is scary because you have to be vulnerable and open yourself up to hurt. Your casual partner may not reciprocate the feelings. If you want to take your casual relationship to the next level be prepared that the other person may not want that and you may feel rejected. Once you have become comfortable with being vulnerable, you can have the conversation. Meeting up for coffee or grabbing drinks will probably be the easiest way to go about it. The start of the conversation will always be awkward, but you just have to bite the bullet. You use starter phrases like “So I have been thinking about our relationship” or “How do you like where things are going with us.” Again, it will not be easy but it will be worth it.
Overall, when it comes to knowing if you should break off a casual relationship, being honest is the key ingredient. Casual relationships are fun and easy, but they can get complicated — especially when you're friends with that person. Knowing yourself and your feelings is important to preserve your own well-being and the other person’s.