‘I wasn’t thinking “I’m gonna be in a relationship with him”,’ said Kim Kardashian of her connection with current boyfriend, Pete Davidson. ‘I was just basically DTF.’
Few of us will find ourselves in the exact situation (a high-profile divorce, an ex publicly describing the size of a penis, an SNL hosting gig) that allowed this hookup to turn into something more.
But what many of us will experience is the strange shift from a casual fling to a committed relationship.
Perhaps you plunged yourself back into the world of dating as a way to get your groove back, with no intention of anything serious.
Maybe you started having sex with someone in a friends with benefits setup.
Then, something unexpected happened: feelings began to grow.
Do you stay the course? Panic and cut things off entirely? Or could this fling be a thing?
This is not an easy situation to navigate, so we asked some experts to guide us through it.
Signs your casual hookup could have the potential for a serious relationship
‘Many a strong relationship has blossomed from the seed of a casual fling or hookup,’ sex and relationships expert Rhian Kivits tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Quite often, people say they’re only available for a casual fling or friends with benefits situation because they’re not certain that they’re ready for a commitment or because they don’t want to mislead the other person.’
Rhian breaks down some signs that something casual has the potential to be more:
- They’re showing an interest in actually getting to know you on a deeper level
- You find yourselves communicating daily to update each other
- They’re drawing your attention to how compatible you are during your conversations
- You find yourselves having fun just chatting on your dates, rather than only when you’re getting physical
- You talk about future plans together
- You’ve lost interest in or stopped using dating apps
- When you meet up, sex doesn’t always happen – or it’s not the priority
- You’re talking about more intimate, personal things and confiding in each other
- You’ve got shared values and views
- You know what’s going on in each other’s lives – and actually care
- You’ve become each other’s first choice of date or hookup
- They’re there for you when it matters
- You’ve mixed your social circles and maybe even invited each other to family celebrations and events as a plus one
- Your friends all say you belong together or are a great match
- You’re not really interested in dating or having sex with other people
- You think about them a lot, especially when you’re waking up or just before you go to sleep
- You feel like you want to give them birthday or Christmas gifts – and you want them to be perfect
- They give you a gift that’s genuinely meaningful and shows they really know you
- You’re starting to crave exclusivity, and the idea of them being with someone else feels painful
- You miss them if you haven’t seen them for a while
- You crave their texts or calls, and feel good when they reach out
- When you’re struggling with something, they’re the person you want to talk to
- You ask them for their advice – and take their opinion seriously
- You talk about the person to your friends or family members as if they’re an important fixture in your life
- You start to imagine a future with the other person and factor them into the plans you make
- You hesitate when someone asks you if you’re single
If you’re ticking off a bunch of the signs above, there might be something deeper going on – but, warns relationship coach Kate Mansfield, make sure you’re not confusing the rush of lust with love.
‘Mutual feelings are a sign, but it’s important to look out for other things that indicate shared values, and things in common as well as physical chemistry, as casual relationships can be high on passion but low on true compatibility,’ Kate notes. ‘Don’t confuse lust with love!
‘Ask yourself, do you really miss the person or is it more a feeling of longing and loneliness?
‘Sometimes in a casual fling the unavailability of the person leads you to feel that you miss them, and want something real with them when in fact it’s a psychological trigger set off by the chase.’
Hayley Quinn echoes this, urging us to really consider whether a connection has long-term legs before we take it to the next level.
‘When you’re considering whether your hookup has the potential to be something more, be careful not to mix up feeling a connection with someone, with having the right building blocks for a relationship,’ Hayley tells us. ‘You might have great physical chemistry, be able to talk for hours on end, but unless the other person is showing willingness to become more involved, your fling won’t turn into a relationship.
‘However, if you find yourself meeting your friends, going on real dates (as opposed to Netflix and chill) and planning for the future, then you could have something here.’
How to go from a casual hookup to a serious relationship
Okay, so you’ve figured it out: there’s something bigger here. Now what?
We’re sorry to say that yes, you will have to speak up. Don’t just let things continue to drift along aimlessly if you secretly want more.
‘There’s no way around it, be brave and direct,’ says Kate. ‘The only way to find out for sure if you could be something more is to ask and be authentic.’
Ask your hookup for a chat and put it all out on the table, explaining your feelings and giving them the space to respond.
‘Be clear with your relationship goals and boundaries,’ advises sex and relationships coach Ness Cooper. ‘Understand that it may take the person you’re talking to time to process these goals and boundaries as they may have been set on the idea of hookups only.
‘Being honest and avoiding beating around the bush is the best approach.
‘Don’t try and move too fast.
‘Avoiding booking anything too romantic in advance just in case they say no. Particularly as they may need time to think about it.’
We know this is scary. But remember that the rewards for your risk could be massive… and if it all goes wrong, at least you can cut your losses, move on, and avoid any pining.
Hayley says: ‘If you like someone, it can be all too easy to convince yourself you’re happy with a no strings attached fling, because secretly you want them in your life, no matter on what terms. Be careful to not embark on a fling if what you really want is a relationship.
‘If however you were happy seeing someone casually, and then you got the feels, don’t sit on this information for too long.
‘If you find yourself wanting to spend more and more time with them, and thinking about them all day long, then have a conversation to work out if they’re on the same page as you, or not.’
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