If you’re wondering how to not catch feelings for a FWB or when casual dating, then you’re in just the right place, where we all catch flights instead of feelings!
You’ve probably heard that famous expression ‘catch flights, not feelings’ and I must admit that the older I get, the more it resonates with me.
After I realized that getting my heart broken had become my hobby, I decided to change things and practice casual relationships instead of ‘broken-hearted’ ones.
Even though some of you won’t agree with me, you probably have your own reasons why you want to avoid catching feelings, aka the modern world plague.
(Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here, right? Right.)
Some of you want to focus on your career or finishing college or you just don’t have time for any type of romance that starts with catching feelings and ends up with catching tears.
And guess what? That’s TOTALLY okay!
It’s true that I’ve never been a fan of one-night-stands and casual hookups but sometimes ‘a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do’.
Sometimes, you have to put yourself in first place because self-love is anything but overrated!
Now that we got that straight, let’s see how to AVOID catching feelings and enjoy the charms of casual dating (without becoming a serial dater):
Have a backup
I have never really been a backup kind of person but I realized that this concept can be quite handy.
The thing is, when you’re casually dating only one person, it is easier for you to start catching feelings for them.
You know that feeling when you’re dying of boredom and you want to do something fun but the guy/girl that you’re dating is busy at the time?
Sometimes, you might think that they’re ignoring you on purpose and that’s when your casual thing starts turning into something emotional rather than casual.
For that reason, it’s good to always have a backup (or a few of them, just in case). So, when Mike/Emma is busy, you call the other guy/girl who is available.
That way, you’ll protect yourself from any potential anticipation, necessary contemplation and waiting.
If one person is not available for a casual hangout, you know that you have other options available, so you basically don’t give a damn about anything else.
Yes, it sounds cruel but so is the world we live in and the dating pool. (And it even rhymes!)
Avoid or minimize hangouts during the day
If you want to keep it ‘no strings attached’ and avoid them becoming your significant other, you should definitely avoid hanging out during the day (or at least not do it too often).
Why? Because somehow, magically, daytime is reserved for catching feelings. Do you think it is a coincidence that all those casual dating movie scenes are usually recorded at night? It’s not.
It is much easier to catch feelings for someone once they become a part of your daily routine.
And you might find yourself hurrying to finish other things just to spend time with them.
However, night-time is a whole different thing. We (usually) don’t have anything to do at that time unless it’s to chill the hell out.
When we’re in that mood, there’s less of a chance of catching feelings for someone.
We’re only focused on having a good time instead of talking about real-life problems or needing a shoulder to cry on and from my own personal experience, I can confirm that those things bond people.
If you’re not ready for that (yet), then you should avoid or minimize hangouts during the day.
Put yourself first
Undoubtedly, casual dating has many perks and my favorite one is putting yourself first.
You don’t have a sense of ‘obligation’ toward your dating partner, which means you can hang out whenever you feel like it.
You don’t have to explain why you’re not in a good mood at that moment or why you prefer binge-watching over spending time with them.
So, as long as you’re putting yourself first, you’re on the right track.
The moment you start canceling your own plans for the sake of hanging out with them, then you know you’re doomed.
Why? Because canceling plans means sacrificing your own schedule and freedom for someone you barely know (or someone you would want to know better).
When that happens, you make them your number one priority, which equals being in a semi-relationship.
Always put yourself first and ask yourself what it is that you would enjoy doing at that moment instead of overthinking things. Just go with the flow, spoil yourself and enjoy every second of it.
Your life = your rules!
Setting boundaries is a wonderful thing in every situation and especially when it comes to mastering the art of how to not catch feelings.
Consider setting some ground rules with your casual partner.
Talk about what would be considered inappropriate and write it down if needed so that you can always remind yourself of those golden rules.
One of your ground rules should definitely be NO holding hands (especially in public) and you would want to avoid long cuddling sessions.
Whatever it is that makes you feel uncomfortable or weird, put it on the list. Also, ask them to do the same.
When you know all the things that you shouldn’t do if you want to preserve casual status, then it will be easier for you to maintain it.
When I was in a recent no-strings-attached relationship, I didn’t set any rules because I thought that I could manage without them. Boy, was I wrong.
Before I knew it, I found myself overthinking things and constantly questioning their actions.
Whenever they were about to do something, a thousand questions would pop up in my mind because I was scared that they would do something that was non-casual.
When you’re constantly anxious about such things, you cannot have fun and just enjoy the moment so for the sake of your own well-being, set boundaries and stick to them.
You have no idea how grateful you will be for doing that because that is the only way for a casual thing to function properly in the long run. So, you’re welcome!
Lower your expectations
“You promised that you would call me! You didn’t pay the bill at the restaurant. You make me feel sad and disappointed.”
The above three sentences are things that should be used only in a serious context, aka a serious relationship, so you should preserve that for your future significant other.
So, when it comes to casual hookups, the number one rule is to lower your expectations.
You need to keep in mind that the other person is not obliged to do anything for you, let alone pay a bill.
And the same thing goes for you as well. You don’t need to put much effort into your hangouts and you should expect less effort treatment in return as well.
If you don’t lower your expectations, you might get hurt and you don’t want that. You don’t want them to disappoint you, hurt you, play with you or make you cry.
You want to find a middle ground; a balance between a booty call and dating exclusively. Once you succeed in doing so, then you know you won’t be able to catch feelings so quickly.
Keep your sleepovers spicy
It’s important to understand that casual dating is not the same thing as booty calls. It’s somewhere in-between a serious relationship and, okay, a booty call.
So, if a sleepover happens (and Lord knows that they will happen), they should be spicy and not relationship-ey (so not too cute and innocent).
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should be active the whole night (if you catch my drift) but you also shouldn’t be grandma-style.
If you notice that all you do during sleepovers is cuddle without initiating anything spicier, then you know you’re doomed.
This is something that happens in long-term relationships, where partners tend to enjoy each other’s presence more than anything else.
Needless to say, this setting is perfect for gradually falling in love and connecting with each other deeply.
If you don’t want that, then you should keep your sleepovers spicy and not lazy. But remember, don’t overdo it because they are not your booty call.
You don’t want to find yourself drooling over the phone every minute while persuading them to sleep over.
These things should happen naturally and if they happen, you better spice up the hell out of them!
Keep PDA behind closed doors
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see two people holding hands? That they’re in a relationship, right?
Such and similar public displays of affection (PDA) are often connected with something serious.
So, the last thing you need is other people thinking that you’re in a relationship (which might also ruin your backup plans).
This is why you should keep PDA behind closed doors unless you want other people to witness them. If you don’t, then you’re a legit casual dater and I encourage you to keep up the good work.
Also, I have to add something which may be irrelevant to some of you.
I’ve noticed that many people practice PDA just because they want to be seen with their partner and not because they have this uncontrollable urge for make-out sessions in the middle of the street.
They want to share their love with other people, while some just want to make others jealous.
There are many possible interpretations but the most important thing is to keep your affection behind closed doors until you’re ready to go public.
Avoid taking your casual bae to your favorite places
You probably have a favorite restaurant, a coffee shop where it feels like home and you like to chill before or after work or a soothing place where you go to recharge.
Well, guess what? Avoid taking your casual bae to those places if you don’t want to ruin your life. Joking aside, it’s kind of true that this could potentially mess up your life big time.
Imagine that over time, your favorite places become their favorite places as well.
So, you wake up in the morning, go to your coffee shop and there they are, sitting and drinking their espresso while waving at you to join them.
The first thing that would come to your mind is probably something like: Oh, no!
Yes, if needed, you would be able to make excuses like you’re in a hurry or similar (because ain’t nobody got time to think of a proper excuse when taken by surprise).
However, sadly, you wouldn’t be able to use the same excuse every single time you see them there.
So, DO NOT take them to your favorite places if you want to maintain the same levels of chill and casualness in your life.
You want to make sure that you can still have your routine where no casual baes are invited. Time for your own things and hangouts with them should always be kept separate.
Once they become a part of your life, you can no longer call it casual.
Do NOT introduce them to (all of) your friends
Whatever you do, do NOT introduce them to your friends. Or if you really have to, then don’t introduce them to all of your friends. If you’re wondering why, here are some legit reasons.
One of the worst-case scenarios would be your friends constantly hanging out with them.
When it comes to the casual dating scene, this should be a top priority on the list of your ground rules: Do not let your casual daters infiltrate your group of friends.
Because that means that you would have to spend all of your free time with them as well. You will not have the option to hang out with your friends and then choose to hang out with them separately.
Once they become a part of your gang, there’s no way back. If your friends enjoy their company and how cool they are, they might even start forcing you to consider something serious with them.
If catching feelings is not something you would want to deal with at the moment, then simply don’t introduce them to your friends.
And if your friends ask whether you’re seeing someone and if they can meet them, just tell them that it’s none of their business and you’ll introduce them in case you ever become exclusive.
Don’t take them home
The first time you take them home, you can call it game over. (Had I known that in the past, my life would have been much easier.)
So, don’t take them home (especially if you live with your mom and dad) if you’re not sure whether you want to be exclusive with them.
If you want to learn how to not catch feelings, then you need to learn how to not take them home! Joking aside, you probably already know that taking someone home screams SERIOUS.
This is one of those things that people do when they’re in a serious relationship and they want to introduce their partner to every single family member and friend.
By doing that, they’re basically making things official because now those people are also part of their relationship.
So, do you want your mom, dad and other family members and friends to be a part of your casual thing? I don’t think so. So, don’t take them home unless it is an emergency situation or similar.
If they agree with you on this, then you know you’re on the same page but if they insist that you introduce them to all of your friends and family, then you should run because it’s evident that they’re aiming for something more serious, aka a relationship.
Limit your conversations
“Hey, what are you doing? OMG you won’t believe what just happened! I’m bored… Can you come over? Why aren’t you texting me back?”
TEXTING—one word that can cause billions of problems and frustrations. I’m pretty much convinced that the moment we entered the modern era, our love lives were doomed.
Yes, it is nice to know that you can exchange your thoughts with just anyone, whenever the hell you want to.
You don’t need to send them letters like in old times when epistolary relationships were trending because now we have social media!
We have tons of instant messaging variations and that’s exactly what doomed us. In times like these, trying to limit a conversation is more like trying not to breathe when you know you can.
While there’s no need to limit conversations with your legit partner, casual baes are a different thing.
If you text too much, call too much or overdo anything else, you risk trapping yourself and making things more serious than they are.
Constantly asking them about their day, telling them every single detail of your life and similar are things you should avoid doing.
Exchanging a few casual texts here and there is acceptable but telling them how John/Sophia at your work is a real pain in the ass is not acceptable if you want to keep things casual.
Have mutual respect
You might think that in casual encounters, mutual respect is not that important but think again.
Every single relationship with human beings should be based on mutual respect, regardless of whether it is something casual or more serious.
If they are, for some reason, prevented from hanging out with you, you need to respect that. Also, both of you need to respect the ground rules if you want things to function.
Just because they’re not your legit partner, this doesn’t mean you should treat them like someone unimportant whose main purpose is to entertain you.
Even casual things require a certain amount of mutual effort, so keep that in mind.
Even though you’re here to learn how to not catch feelings, you cannot be one hundred percent sure that you won’t.
In case you do happen to catch feelings for them, respect them enough to tell them that and to leave if you’re not on the same page.
By doing that, you’re also maintaining your self-respect because there’s nothing more frustrating than lying to yourself and living in an illusion.
Life is too short to pretend that you don’t have feelings for someone when you do or to pretend that you have feelings when you don’t.
You both deserve to know the truth and to be genuine with each other. You should respect each other enough to leave when/if needed if that’s what you both agree on.
For a long time, I wasn’t even aware of the fact that I have this tendency to tell every guy my whole life story and all the relevant details.
I mean, it’s not like I’m at a job interview but I still can’t help but act like that.
I would even share with them things about my previous relationships and it’s not like this should be something that interests them.
Even worse, it’s not something I should even share with them if I want to keep things casual.
So, don’t make the same mistakes as me. Be smart and learn from other people’s failures and don’t share your life story with your casual bae.
No, they are not interested in all those funny moments from your childhood, rebellious teenage days, relationship failures and all the other things that belong to the book called your life story.
If you want to keep things casual, you need to keep your conversations casual as well. Once you cross that line, there’s no way back.
They might become interested in every single detail from your past and ask you tons of subquestions, and once you start answering, you won’t be able to retreat.
Once they start creating a mosaic of your unique and exciting personality in their head, they will start catching feelings. And the same thing goes for you as well.
If you notice that you have the urge to ask them tons of personal questions, then you might start questioning your casual intentions and slow down.
And if you see that you still have the same urge, then you might want to share with them how you feel about the whole thing and start on finding a solution.
Limit the time you spend together
Last but not least: Do NOT spend too much time together! The more time you spend with your casual bae, the higher the chance of one of you or both of you catching feelings.
As a matter of fact, spending too much time together is not good even when you’re in a relationship.
Every single individual needs to have their own life and nourish friendships outside of the relationship (be it casual or serious).
You need to have time for yourself, your friends, hobbies and other activities that don’t involve hanging out with your casual bae.
Sometimes it is hard to limit the time spent together, especially if you really enjoy their company but it’s something you have to do in order to protect yourself and them as well.
The best way to limit hangouts is by choosing one, two or three days in a week when you will meet and have chill time.
This is also great because it gives you flexibility when it comes to arranging your backup plans and you can focus on other things happening in your life instead of only thinking about when you should meet up with them.
When you have an organized schedule, it is easier for you to maintain your casual goals.
You won’t be tempted to organize hangouts every day in the week, which is a huge no-no because it means bonding and the potential development of feelings. Gross. (Just kidding!)
Be honest with yourself!
Don’t perceive casual dating as something trending that you need to do ASAP. Be honest with yourself.
Instead of only focusing on how to not catch feelings, think about what it is that you really want at the moment.
In case you’re casually dating and you catch feelings for them, don’t try to hide it but acknowledge it and talk to them. Perhaps they might feel the exact same way about you.
Many people have experienced this plot twist when casually dating and there’s nothing wrong with that.
After all, they say that love finds you when you least expect it and casual dating is not an exception.