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How to Keep Things Casual?

From my XO Afterglow Instagram takeover on 11/17/2021

Question: [How do you] stay grounded/realistic when you just want to hook up with someone but not date? OOOH! I love this question for so many reasons! Celebrating you for knowing what you want and for being proactive about getting it in a way that feels good! Stoked that you have this opportunity for sexy times.

But you're asking because this can be a little bit scary or confusing, right? I see you.

First off, why do you want to stay grounded? Why is that important to you? Is it necessary?

Can we flesh that out a little bit more? (In those details you’ll find a lot of your answers and hopefully some desires/boundaries/priorities.)

A lot of times people think that to be casual you have to be cold or distant or that you don’t get to celebrate and be excited. But you can do all that and still have your limits.

Celebrate what the relationship IS (awesome sex, friendship, warm tinglies) and try not to project your happy feelings into a narrative of what the relationship COULD BE (committed romantic partnership or you bringing their parents a flan).

And maybe when you do feel a longing, put a hand on your chest or your belly and say something like, “mmm, it feels good/interesting/scary to want closeness. How else can I get it outside of this connection?” Create a resilience and comfort plan outside of the hook up.

I’d also be curious about the messages you’ve received about what it means to just hook up. Do you have any internalized societal shame about this and do they have the potential to get in your way as you try to assert boundaries?

Tell people up front what you’re available for and then only do that. Example: If you want to have sex but you don’t want to sleep over—don’t. Be prepared to take your own action and don’t wait for them to decide how your visit is going to go. Plan to check in and re-state your needs and desires as you go. Invite them to do the same. If you find that you're having more anxiety than fun, assess whether you can make adjustments yourself or with your partner or if it's better to move on and stop hooking up. Remind yourself of your desires/boundaries/priorities and behave accordingly (or don't and keep going until you learn whatever lesson you're working on for right now). Only you can really know when is the right time. No judgies.

Remember, there’s inherent risk in all relating and it’s not something that we can completely control. Allow some space for messiness (for you and for them) and go nuts! Imagine a person who believes they deserve as much pleasure as they want, whenever they want it, and they have no pressure to partner up. Add a little compassion for the other party and then see if you can channel that unbothered energy.

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