Casual Intimacy

Casual relationships are not for me.

I’ve been spending time with some truly incredible humans this summer, and through these connections, I’m learning so much about myself. However, despite feeling all manner of feelings, there’s been no immediate potential for a committed, intimate relationship. In the past, that would have been a signal for me to move on. Now, however, I find myself lingering.

There’s nothing casual about the way I enter into intimacy. I wholly reject the term casual. I’d like to replace it with ‘intentional’ or ‘carefully measured’. Perhaps even ‘low expectation’. I don’t need monogamy as much as I need transparency. I don’t need large commitments of time as much as I’d like quality, connected time.

I enter into these interactions assessing how a person might fit into my life. I’ll meet someone, try to understand their values, try to get a sense of their lifestyle, and then I can calibrate how I interact with them, and how deeply I’d like to connect.

Of course, this sometimes goes awry. Unpredictable elements like shockingly good chemistry, or a nearly perfect alignment of values and thirst for life can throw my best intentions of a measured approach way the hell off track. I grow fond of people, and fond of the way I feel in their presence. I’m learning to temper my lifelong ability to get carried away by this heady feeling with my newfound practice of self- connection and grounding.

I can’t use casual to describe hours of conversation about life, and purpose and the way we choose things for ourselves. Casual is not witnessing people describe their world in ways they’ve never been able to articulate before. Casual isn’t stepping into my body in ways I’ve never experienced. If you find a place where you can explore physical, emotional and mental corners you’ve never examined, do you just dust yourself off after and say ‘well, that was nice’?

Every morning, I sit on my porch and write. I’m doing that now. Every morning, this compact, wiry man is out for his morning walk. He’s likely younger than I am. He’s always at top speed, and always yelling at someone into his headset. He’s so loud. He’s oblivious to the cicadas and the cardinals and the way the pine trees smell when it’s been humid. The judgemental part of me figures this guy is great at casual relationships. The truth is, I marvel at people who can connect and then disconnect so easily. I wonder if they are actually connecting at all…

So, while I wholly recognize that one of my lovers is far too young to even contemplate being my partner, and another is in the midst of re-imagining his life, I will care so deeply for them both. Everyone knows about the other, there are no secrets. We have an agreement to keep communicating how we feel as we move through our time together. I trust them both to tell me about any new partners they choose to engage with. I trust them both to be clear if they want our connection to evolve into something deeper, or if they feel like it’s time to move on.

I suppose I’ve found my way back to polyamory again. I’m not necessarily committed to this lifestyle, but it seems to suit me well in this moment. I love the freedom, and the way it challenges conventional relationship traps, like codependency, that I believe really inhibit personal growth.

Each day, I choose to nurture the intimate connections I have found, while I also tend to my child, my practice, myself, and my clients. I choose these connections because of what they are teaching me about my own heart, my needs in relationship, and my desire to slow down the process of falling in love. I can transcend the euphoria of great sexual chemistry and see my way through learning about a human in all of their aspects before I declare my love for them aloud. I can watch how they show up, and learn about what they have to offer me, and what they don’t.

I know I’m wholly capable of choosing one person to commit to. When I do so, it will be from a place of clarity and safety this time. That sweet rush of falling will always be a thrilling ride, but the next time I tell someone I love them, it will be after I’ve landed and know with great certainty that I’m safe and still intact.