Let's stop fighting a nonexistent demon and just relax.
The word relationship scares the crap out of otherwise grown, capable and responsible men and women alike. And really all I have to say is NONSENSE. Think about it. Haven't you known at least one person who frets about someone they're dating, subjecting you to hours of “uh God, what is he/she thinking”--only to end with “but it's not like I want a relationship or anything”. But in all fairness, there's no “or anything” about it. What your friend is saying is that they don't want a serious relationship when they are in fact already in one, albeit a casual one. So what's the problem? Why do we treat the R word like a dirty word, one to avoid at all costs?
We are people. We are social creatures who seek and thrive in social connections. As the go-to for the basis of any argument, the dictionary defines a relationship firstly as a connection, association, or involvement. It doesn't say anything about sex. Actually it does but that's all the way down at number four. Number one, on the other hand, is very clear. You could have a relationship with your mailman, with the butcher, and if you're really bougie, the person who brings your prepackaged meals. So why are people so afraid of this word once sex is involved? I've even had a girlfriend tell me a date tried to have the “I don't want a relationship conversation” MID COITUS. In what universe is that acceptable behavior?
To think that you don't have a bond of any kind with the person you're having intimate sexual relations with is both disturbing and highly irrational. This aversion to “relationship” has always baffled me, especially because it seems bizarre to limit affections with someone who is so personally knowledge about your body and your...tastes. What does that say about how we define ourselves and our emotions? Sure I'll get naked and do things I might not even tell my friends about but over my dead body are we “in a relationship”. But the fact is, we have relationships all the time, all different kinds with all different types of people. If you want some booty but not a commitment, it could easily be casual. If you'd like someone to go to the grocery store or fold laundry with, something serious?
Trying to limit your interaction with a potential mate can only lead to disaster. You're holding back, they're holding back because someone put their awkward foot forward first. This is cruel, not to mention illogical. If you've agreed to go on a date, you're at least a little interested right? But instead of seeing how far it could go and giving it a chance, you put up the glass ceiling before any fun can begin. Give yourself and them a chance.
Celebrating all kinds of relationships would also ease the tension in that touchy moment when one or both parties decide this isn't working. Doesn't it sound nicer to say I'd like to keep this relationship casual rather than I don't want a relationship (read: I don't want one with you). You don't want a relationship AT ALL? You want nothing to do with me? That's harsh. But that's not what's being said. Keeping the word in play but specifying how serious it is can help everyone ease in or out of anything without feeling like they've done something to make their partner want to back track for the door.
If we throw this hang up out the window, who knows what's next. Maybe we could even have casual relationships with multiple people! You remember, that thing that used to be called dating around? Now it somehow ends with words like player, trick, and slut? That might be a different hurdle altogether but we can still do something here. We can take all this pressure off. Wouldn't it be great if we could meet someone, spend some time together and just see how we feel without the looming cloud of are we or aren't we in a relationship? Yes, let's just say yes and free ourselves from all this nitpicking and posturing. There's no harm in that. And somewhere down the road, you can both decide if it's casual or something more. Nothing good ever comes from being rushed into a decision because the zeitgeist says so. So let's all rejoice at the beneficial and hopefully everlasting friendship between the words casual and relationship.