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I didn't see a related or similar question, but if you can find one, please link it and I'll close this.

Background

I had little experience in high school and college and learned some of my skills later. My first two serious girlfriends were in my twenties and they both cheated. From this I realized I didn't enjoy serious relationships, so I've avoided them. I have always been honest about this with people I date: "I'm just having fun and don't want this to ever get serious." This is my way of making it clear so that if the person wants "something more" - like marriage - they can move on faster. I just want to have fun - hang out, party, etc with the expectation that we'll be together for a few months with no intention of it leading to cohabitation or marriage.

I live in the US and am about to be 30.

My latest three dating experiences have ended with the other person upset about the relationship not becoming more serious, even though I made it clear that I would never get serious with the person.

Example:

Me (initially): I don't do serious relationship; no boyfriend/girlfriend - just hanging out and having fun together.
Her (initially): Great, I'm not looking for anything serious either.

Her (later): So we've been seeing each other for a few months ... [or some derivative that usually starts a conversation about where is this going, even though we both agreed initially "nowhere"].

Problem

When I meet someone to date, how can I communicate clearly that I am only interested in a casual/short-term dating relationship, such as dating for a few months by doing fun activities, going to parties, attending concerts, etc?

  • 2
    Welcome! We need questions here to be about specific problems you actually face, not a broad problem that may take an entire book to solve. Please edit your question to tell us about a specific person who you're having this problem with and what the situation is like for you. How you communicate this will likely depend on your gender, age, and culture. Additionally, please define what you mean by "casual" - do you mean "friends only" or do you mean "dating only, with no plans to marry"? We need more details. Thanks! – Catija Sep 26 '17 at 16:40
  • @Catija Updated - I think I answered all your questions and defined things and the specific problem more clearly. Thanks. – FalseHooHa Sep 26 '17 at 16:50
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    I'm still a little confused. You won't marry the person... Are you willing to start cohabitating with them? Or is this also to serious? Where do you draw your line exactly? Are you looking for a friend-with-benefits? Or just a friend to do stuff with? – Tinkeringbell Sep 26 '17 at 16:54
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    So, maybe say that sort of thing in the question - define for us what you expect from a relationship, don't rely on generic terms that mean something different to each person... (I'll give you a hint - this is probably also what's causing your problem). Personally, I'd call that a short-term relationship, not a "casual" relationship. – Catija Sep 26 '17 at 17:00
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    What do you consider "having fun"? You list only "doing fun activities, going to parties, attending concerts, etc" does this mean you're not doing "boyfriend/girlfriend" things like making out/having sex? – Catija Sep 26 '17 at 18:41
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I don't have much experience with dating. But I want to leave this here.

When I meet someone to date, how can I communicate clearly that I am only interested in a casual/short-term dating relationship, such as dating for a few months by doing fun activities, going to parties, attending concerts, etc?

I think the problem here is the words date and relationship. It's sort of like my answer to this question, only reversed: You shouldn't mention those words!

You are clearly looking for friends, not people you can have a short-term dating relationship with. It's okay to look for new friends, to do fun stuff with. But you don't take friends on dates, and you don't have 'relationships' with them (I prefer to call that particular form of a relation 'friendship', just to keep the two separated).

Me (initially): I don't do serious relationship; no boyfriend/girlfriend - just hanging out and having fun together.
Her (initially): Great, I'm not looking for anything serious either.

If you mention this on a first date, of course, people might say that they are fine with it. They are on a first date with you, they don't know you. But the fact that they are on a date with you, means to me that they are at least interested in trying to see if a serious relationship can grow out of it. She might not have been looking for anything serious right at that moment. But the fact that she's dating, means that she is looking for something that can grow into something serious.

At least, I've never dated a guy for any other reason. If I don't want a serious relationship or a something casual that can grow into a serious one, I'm not going on a date with you. Then, we're just doing stuff together, without calling it a date.

I don't know how you are meeting these people, but I get the impression that they are firm believers that they are 'on a date' with you. If you get them via dating-apps or websites, I think it might be wise to quit doing so. People are there to find somebody to 'date'. Even though they might not be there to start a serious relationship right away, I think most people on these platforms are hoping for something that can develop into one given the time to grow.

If these are persons that you have a mutual friend with, that mutual friend might have acted like a middle-man. Make sure your friends know that you are willing to be introduced to new people, but that you are only looking for friends that share your interests, not a girlfriend.

I would believe that in this case, the magic words are friend and shared interests. And that you should avoid the words date and relationship.

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    I think this is good advice, though the lack of detail in the question doesn't tell us what type of "friend" this person is or what sort of activities they're engaging in. It's difficult to call someone a "friend" only if you're also having sex. Some cultures are better at accepting sex between "friends" and others are not. – Catija Sep 26 '17 at 18:39
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    Note that some dating sites (at least the one I've used) have an explicit option for "short-term relationships only", which seems to fairly accurately reflect what the OP is after. – Erik Sep 26 '17 at 18:42
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    I like the idea of changing the reference - hanging out or hooking up as opposed to dating. Better word choice perhaps making it more clear what's happening. I'll see if this helps my situation. Thanks. – FalseHooHa Sep 26 '17 at 18:47
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I don't see sex mentioned anywhere, or in reply to Catija's comments. It matters.

If you want to make it crystal clear that you're not interested in any long-term relationships, then put a time limit on it. Honest. Otherwise there's a good chance that the person you're "having fun with" might think they can change your mind. Let them know they can't. So, to pick up where you left off:

You: I don't do serious relationship; no boyfriend/girlfriend - just hanging out and having fun together. [If you also want sex, add that between "hanging out" and "having fun", i.e., "just hanging out, having sex, and having fun together."]
Her: Great, I'm not looking for anything serious either.
You: Really? Great! Because I'm in it for no more than three months at the most, then I'm gone to greener pastures, I promise you. But in the meantime, if you want to have fun [(and sex)], and don't mind that I'm dating others at the same time, I'd love to take you out.

If she goes out with you and complains when you tell her it's over in three months or less, she has absolutely no right to complain.

It's honest, straightforward, and real. Don't be surprised if you don't get many takers, though. But that's good. You don't want to disappoint anyone.

  • +1. Interesting thoughts. It's not always as simple as "we are going to have sex" as I may or may not want to go that far with a particular person (works both ways, as you know). Having fun and hanging out will happen immediately, but anything more may or may not. – FalseHooHa Sep 27 '17 at 18:21
  • @FalseHooHa - Understood. But the possibility of sex should be clear from the beginning: "We may or may not have sex." – anongoodnurse Sep 27 '17 at 20:23
  • I love this answer, except for one tiny detail. May be i'm too old, but do people really just say "we will/may have sex" right off the bat? I know I wouldn't. May be there's a more subtle way of saying this? – sodapop May 4 '18 at 12:40
  • @sodapop - I certainly wouldn't. But I wouldn't want this kind of relationship either. – anongoodnurse May 4 '18 at 15:34
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Short term dating relationships are just that short term. Meaning that regardless of how you try to frame it, you can only push them so long before people want or expect more.

I applaud your being honest about your intentions, telling people upfront what you're looking for is a good first step, but then you have to be willing to follow through and keep the relationship short.

There's no black and white rule for how long you'll be able to ride one of these situations out before feelings develop, so if it seems like people are getting more attached than you're comfortable with after a few months, you may want to keep things more in the few weeks range.

As an aside I would advise you to get over your fear of being cheated on. It's better to have loved and lost n' all. Also while dating like this can be fun for a while, it very often gets harder as you get older.

  • I hadn't thought about the fact that maybe some people will develop feelings and this may be a reality of short-term fun. Excellent point! – FalseHooHa Sep 27 '17 at 18:22
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My latest three dating experiences have ended with the other person upset about the relationship not becoming more serious, even though I made it clear that I would never get serious with the person.

Are you sure you can always control your feelings? No matter how clearly or well you communicate

that I am only interested in a casual/short-term dating relationship, such as dating for a few months by doing fun activities, going to parties, attending concerts, etc?

you can't prevent the woman you are dating from falling in love with you or developing deeper feelings for you. You may even develop feelings. What if the roles were reversed? What if someone you were dating short-term dumps you after they get tired of you and it's you this time wanting more?

Short-term dating specific sites? Sure. No guarantees.

You may need to consider having a friend with whom you mutually agree to also have sex. Again, no guarantees.

Or you could combine having friends for doing the fun stuff with plus hooking up with women for just sex (from specific sites if there are sites for that).

In the end, sure, you can be upfront all you like,

Hey before we start [hanging out/dating/call it whatever], I just wanted to let you know that I'm not interested in a serious relationship and I won't be for a while. I'm being upfront with you to avoid misunderstandings in the future. I'm only interested in....

No guarantees. This is human nature you are talking about. Just, date responsibly.

  • No guarantees. People can change and yes, I can't always control my feelings in a given moment. – FalseHooHa Sep 27 '17 at 18:23
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First, the assumptions.

  • When you say "short term dating relationship" I'm assuming you mean acting as BF and GF, including physical intimacy.

  • You are not currently in this situation, you are looking toward the next one

It is not unseemly for her to want to renegotiate the terms as her feelings evolve over time. You are free to do the same. "You cannot look twice at the same river; for fresh waters are ever flowing in." Your job now is to work with her in the negotiation, while being respectful of her feelings.

That is to say, getting mad and saying "We had a deal" isn't the right approach [1]. Be aware that proximity, shared experiences, and physical intimacy often do spark those deeper feelings. It's by far the more common pattern than what you proposed to her. Do not be surprised. I mean heck, many people either consciously or not, date like this as ... well ... "tryouts" for long-term mate compatibility.

So ... what should you do?

First, introspect a little. How do you feel about your reluctance to have longer relationships, fall in love, and so on? Do you feel like you have some healing to do? If not, not, but do ask the question.

Second, your approach seems ... like kind of a hard sell. It would not be hard to hear it as "I want to have fun with you and then discard you". Another poster suggested that you desexualize it and just make friends with women. Do a lot of group activities. I really do think you'll have trouble finding women who want the deal you're proposing. I could be wrong.

[1] Unless you are both huge Star Wars geeks. If I told a girl "We had a deal" and she snapped back "I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it any further" she would own my heart for all time. ;D

  • Be aware that proximity, shared experiences, and physical intimacy often do spark those deeper feelings. You're right! They do. I actually like just having fun, so I don't want the long-term thing again. On your second point, a lot of girls like the idea of it being very casual at first. In fact, it's my guy friends who want to get serious immediately who scare most girls off. What you say about changing seems to be true - they change over time and want something more serious. Initially, they like just having fun. Good thoughts. – FalseHooHa Sep 27 '17 at 18:26
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First of all, kudos to you for being so honest. And I think the other answers are great advice. However, I think the following points are yet missing. You ask:

When I meet someone to date, how can I communicate clearly [...]

The key point here is that this communication should not be a one-time thing you tell potential candidates only on your first date. There is no magic sentence that wards off emotions by your acquaintances for weeks, months or years. Especially if you send mixed signals:

"Relationship", "dating", etc.

The power of words should not be overestimated. Telling someone that you only want to 'have fun', while being there for them in difficult times, having sex together, sleeping in the same bed [I just assume you do this], being monogamous, among other things, sends signals that are very different from whatever you say. From my experience, people automatically expect romantic relationships to become more serious over time. This is not something you can change. This article even claims women automatically fall in love from sex alone.

From this I realized I didn't enjoy serious relationships, so I've avoided them.

Avoidance behaviour is rarely effective. This way, you are dealing with emotions, but not solving the problem. You're a firefighter spraying yourself (in order to cool yourself) instead of extinguishing the fire. You are now approaching 30. Around this age, two problems emerge for what I assume to be your current lifestyle:

  1. Your friends develop serious relationships and/or mature.
  2. Women expect 'more' from men of your age.

To problem 1: Depending on your social circle, this might come sooner, later or might have already happened: Couples move in together, marry, have kids. Singles stay at home, use dating apps, focus on their career or simply go to bed early because they have to work the next day. Point being: Your friends won't do as much cool stuff as they used to. And they will prioritize their partners. It will be hard for you to have as much fun with your friends as you used to. Their serious partners offer a lot of possibilities to simply 'have a good time'. You deny yourself these possibilites. Problem 2: As you have mentioned yourself, the women you are attracted to generally want a more serious relationship. See problem 1.

Solutions

The solution you want: Keep sex and friendship seperated, even if it means putting in more effort to continually find short-term sex partners and not being able to kiss your (female) friends at a concert.

The solution I consider more healthy: Seek psychotherapy. You already know what shapes your current relationship wishes: Your past relationships. That knowledge is a great starting point. However, you should ask yourself whether your future should be shaped by two people you don't even like anymore. A lot of people live great, satisfying relationships, free of cheating. It is possible for you, too. Also, you don't wake up with 35 and then you're magically able to open up to others emotionally and ready to sustain a serious relationship. You will have to face these problems sometime anyway.

  • Im hesitating to upvote because of the following: I guess psychotherapy never hurts, since we all stumble over our own feet to some extent. I also think OP might benefit from questioning his relationship strategy. This, however, was not the question. Thus, there could be a bit of an X/Y issue here -- but perhaps not. Different people, different ways of life. – user510 Oct 27 '17 at 7:16

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