Scenario: Ryan wants to get married and is looking for a committed relationship. Ryan became taken with Jennifer who recently got out of a relationship with Brandon. Jennifer is VERY interested in Ryan and her behavior reflects this, but she told Ryan she wanted to remain friends for the time being because she still deciding whether or not to go back to Brandon. Ryan was convinced that if he proved himself to be a more suitable mate than Brandon, Jennifer would give into her feelings for him and forget about her ex. Jennifer decided to change their status from “friends” to “casually dating.” Jennifer told Ryan she was focusing on him and new dating options, yet she still kept in occasional contact with Brandon.
Independent of what the relationship status is on paper, how you internally feel about the other person or the relationship will affect your approach and behavior. Be honest with yourself about your internal feelings and act accordingly. You can tell yourself to go into “casual dating” mode all you want, but that doesn’t mean your emotions toward the other person will change and match the relationship level.
If you’re in a dating situation where you both want something casual and it seems to be progressing into something more, TALK about it. It’s important to have that evaluative conversation. Otherwise, your relationship will gradually reach an ambiguous definition. In the wake of ambiguity, emotions can rise, expectations are unclear and entitlement can set in. You (or your dating partner) may feel entitled to things in which you are not owed. The “what are we?” or the “I have deeper feelings for you” conversation is not an easy or comfortable one to have, but alas, it must be done. If you’re uncertain about what someone’s dating intentions are, pay close attention to their statements and actions. Are they congruent? If not, that’s a sign you may want to get out of Dodge. Well, that’s my romance advice for the day. Hope that helps.