Is Casual All It’s Cracked Up To Be ?
I’ve been wracking my brains for a good couple of years now, trying to figure out exactly why it is that we all seem to believe that ‘casual’ is the easy option when it comes to sex.
What do we even distinguish as causal these days? Is it a one-time thing? Is it that classic saying of ‘friends with benefits’… that quite frankly, never ends up being all that beneficial to at least one of you, if we’re being honest here. Is it that girl or guy that you occasionally chat to on social media when you are both looking for an ego boost? Who the hell knows?! I for one, do not.
Talking from a personal perspective, I’m possibly the least casual person I’ve ever met. Perhaps it is more from a point of self-preservation that I have decided to act in this way, to behave in a manner that involves far less emotion – on paper that is – and surely therefore, acting in protection of my sanity?
It’s all fun and games playing into the stereotypes of the ‘I can do who and what I want’ Millennial, until it gives you the mass influx of anxiety that also happens to come with the title. Of course, when it comes to romantic relationships, casual is simply a right of passage, something that we need to traverse to understand exactly who we are and what we want. Sadly (or not so sadly, if it is working for you then great) some of us will get stuck in casualville for a little longer than anticipated and that can really have an adverse reaction on our mental health and ever so poetically, sense of self. Now as a British twenty-something, I’m the first to admit that I will happily use my love life – or lack there of – as a point of comedy. Often joking with my close friends that without putting ourselves through this turmoil, would we even be funny anymore?! No but seriously, it’s crossed my mind more than once or twice. The answer is of course, yes we would, but Christ is it easy to forget that we are funny, intelligent young women, in favour of being ever so slightly sex obsessed at times. Having come out of a long-term relationship at 22, I swore myself off commitment and men in pursuit of good mental health and achieving my career goals that I had seemingly put on hold. Fast-forward nearly three years and although I may be further along in my career, I have not managed to hold up my end of the male-free bargain. Not quite so Eat, Pray, Love as we’d all hoped to be honest.
Now if we’re being honest, who doesn’t love the thrill of a fling?! If you’re working your way out of a relationship, then sometimes that trusty – and slightly awful – saying of ‘the only way to get over someone, is to get under someone else’ is perfectly accurate. However, although this can be the fun that we all deserve in that situation, it can quickly become a crutch and if it’s with the wrong person, well then that crutch is most definitely the wrong size. Now I look back at various decisions I’ve made in pursuit of being the casual and easy going girl I was not ready to be and I think to myself, why the rush? I had effectively replaced one relationship, with an even more toxic one and yet again, I couldn’t see it. Now after almost two years of casual sex with the same person, numerous conversations with my best friends about how great it is to be non-committal and just having fun… I think I’m ready to call bullshit. *Please listen closely for the clinking of champagne glasses from my best girls. Sometimes it is just plain hard to see when it’s happening to you. In my case, I was using this relationship (of sorts), as a way to put on hold the real issues in my life. Inevitably it set me back, it made me feel small and unworthy of something loving and sweet. I’d go as far as to say that the casual relationship I had developed, in pursuit of avoiding commitment, really cemented all the anxieties I’d felt about myself and that needed to be tackled.
A period of growth
Although I wouldn’t go as far as to say I am completely out of this situation, as we all know what can happen after a long week, bottle of wine and easy access to your phone, but I do know it’s not what I want or need anymore. What I need, is security in myself and some time to be.
It would seem that I’m not alone in this. When talking to some of my closest friends, it seems this distraction tactic is something we have all been doing to keep our fears at bay and it has worked well for a while. It’s served a purpose and it’s been fun at times, but no more. We all want to be a little bit selfish (I hate saying that because really, what is so selfish about doing what you want with your life?) and we don’t want to waste our precious energy.
Maybe eventually when I say I’m breezy about a romantic situation… I’ll actually mean it! Maybe there won’t be a romantic situation for a while – to be honest, I’m more than happy to be head-over-heels in love with my girl-friends, because that energy is well spent and comes back ten-fold.
Of course, I’m not ruling out the possibility of casual in the future… because when I’m genuinely ready for it and it fits into my life, my god could it be fun and we should never say never. The trick is to always remember that if it’s not working for you anymore, it needs to end.
In my case, we would always say that if one of us started to ‘fall in love’ with the other, that it would need to end. In a possibly quite surprising turn of events, this didn’t actually happen, however, the thing that I wish I’d been looking out for was falling out of love with myself. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do, but also the most wonderful thing to rebuild. Maybe instead of giving your time to someone who doesn’t deserve it, give it back to yourself because really… casual isn’t all it cracked up to be.
Writting by: Phoebe Calver