You keep me hanging on

Are you a booty call, friend with benefits, fallback or in a casual relationship when you want more?

Many people want the companionship and regular sex of someone with the least amount of effort possible. This is fine if you’re both on the same page but I see so many clients who want commitment and possibly children but they get stuck in relationships going nowhere fast. Their pain and dissatisfaction is heartbreaking.

Our instant online gratification hook-up culture has extinguished our relationship expectations. Nihilistic and jaded anti-love sentiment can make us way too casual about ourselves. I see so many clients trying to convince themselves they won’t “catch feelings” and that they can keep it simply physical. Just stop. Your values are important and you can clearly articulate what you want.

How to tell if you’re in a pseudo relationship

They’ve told you they don’t want a relationship or anything serious right now but you still stick around. You can’t change their mind. You can’t prove yourself to them. You won’t win by waiting it out after a year of casual sex. You’re not a car that needs multiple test drives.

You’ve been giving all of yourself whilst requiring nothing more than a bare minimum in return. This reflects how little you value yourself and what you’ll tolerate.

You have a history of casual relationships because you run from people who want serious commitment from you because it feels “uncomfortable”. You might be commitment phobic yourself and the “challenge” of the emotionally unavailable person means you don’t have to look within and confront your fears about commitment, abandonment and how loveable you are.

Your sexual partner doesn’t make time to see you regularly, doesn’t follow through fast enough after dates, isn’t interested in meeting your friends, family or you theirs. You may have ignored red flags and desperately don’t want to be alone.

There’s no emotional and sexual boundaries. They exploit kink and polyamorous identities as “excuses” for their bad behaviour. Respectful behaviour is important for any identity or lifestyle.

Your sexual partner keeps you at arms length and avoids emotional intimacy. The “relationship” isn’t developing and a year later you’re still their “once a week shag”.

You settle for crumbs and focus obsessively on them. Yeah, sure they like your company, like sex with you, maybe they did a nice thing for you last week… You might focus on that one tiny thing so much that you block out the negatives.

You hope by having sex you will get emotional intimacy. Don’t. If you get emotionally attached to people you’re being sexual with, take your time getting to know them first! Sex can bond you to the wrong person for years.

If you want a committed partner and you’ve been dating someone for a few months but they still don’t know what they want, it’s time to hold your head up high and say goodbye. You can’t force someone to commit. Stop clinging desperately to what you don’t want when you could be out there finding what you do want. You deserve it.

Cat O Dowd
Sex Therapist & Couples Counsellor