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Mismatched Desires: Handling the Connection When One Wants Casual and the Other Wants Serious

5 mins
Dating tips

Imagine being on a rollercoaster with a new connection you made a couple of weeks ago. You're both on board, but as the twists and turns begin, you realise you're not quite in sync. One person is an excitement and adventure seeker, while the other clings to the safety bar, wanting a smoother, more predictable journey. Welcome to the world of mismatched desires in dating and relationships, where one seeks the excitement of casual encounters while the other yearns for the depth of a committed partnership.

In this rollercoaster of emotions, we'll explore the fascinating landscape of mismatched desires and relationships. We'll draw inspiration from notable theories such as Maslow and the Imago theory and real-world experiences. Grab your metaphorical seatbelt, and let's dive into the adventure.

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

To begin our journey, let's consider the wisdom of Abraham Maslow, a renowned psychologist known for his hierarchy of needs. Imagine this hierarchy as the ride's structure, with different levels representing various human desires. We have physiological needs at the base, like food and shelter, followed by safety and security. As we ascend, we encounter love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualisation, which represents reaching your full potential. Although Maslow’s theory has some limitations, in my view, he distinguishes between D-Love and B-Love clearly. D-love or deficiency-love. Inthis state we cling to the loved one out of desperate dependency and see the loved one as a means to fill some kind of deficiency in ourselves. B-love, or being-love, reflects a love based on full acceptance of the other person. In B-love, we love other people simply for who they are and not for what they can do for us. Naturally, B-love is seen as the healthier and more sustainable kind of love. Maslow was very focused on the importance of rising above selfish desires in order to embrace other people for their own sake rather than as means to a goal.

Casual Desires: Some find themselves firmly anchored at the base of this pyramid (where B-Love resides), craving immediate gratification and comfort. They're thrill-seekers, eager for exciting encounters and casual connections that fulfill their physiological and safety needs.

Serious Desires: On the other hand, some adventurers climb higher, seeking the exhilaration of deep, meaningful connections (more relevant to B-Love). For them, love, belonging, and self-actualisation align with the desire for commitment and intimacy.

Exploring Expert Insights

Now, let's introduce you to a few notable relationship experts, whom I follow and respect:

Esther Perel is a world-renowned therapist and author. She's known for her work in the field of relationships and intimacy. Esther's expertise lies in understanding the intricacies of desire, passion, and the dynamics of modern relationships. Her insights are invaluable in unravelling the complexities of mismatched desires.

The Gottman Institute, founded by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman, the Gottman Institute is a leading authority on relationship research and therapy. They've spent decades studying what makes relationships work and identifying the key factors that lead to lasting love. Their research provides essential insights into building strong and healthy connections.

Harville Hendrix is a prominent figure in the realm of relationships. His Imago Theory explores how our past experiences influence our Partner choices. Understanding this theory can shed light on why some individuals are drawn to casual relationships while others seek commitment. Imago derives from the word Image. This refers to how we form silhouettes of the type of people we get attracted to in our adult lives based on the image we have formed in the subconscious of our primary carers from childhood.

Practical Strategies for Navigating Mismatched Desires

Having touched upon the above expert’s valuable views on relationships, let’s now explore a few practical scenarios to help you navigate this conundrum.

Let’s take a cisgender, heterosexual example to discuss a few scenarios together. 

Imagine you make a meaningful connection online and feel passion after meeting each other. It’s a great first date and you are clear you like each other and want to get to know each other better. 

Scenario 1: Neither of you are sure how serious you want to get and how fast just yet

After a few dates, you start feeling attached and You feel they are starting to take some distance. You start imagining and building various scenarios in your mind. What if they are dating other people?

Panic sets in, you assumed you were being exclusive…How do you approach this without losing your deep connection?

There could be many reasons why they may have become a bit distant. Maybe something difficult is going on in their life that they are not yet ready to share with you. Maybe something has suddenly happened; family issues, health issues, work issues.

Or maybe, they realised you are not the right match for each other. Or, maybe they always assumed this was going to be a casual relationship and in fact, they ARE dating other people.

Communication is key: Honest and open dialogue is your best friend. But how and when you communicate is also very important in making or breaking something that could potentially flourish into a long-lasting committed relationship.

I came across some interesting stats (https://hackspirit.com/online-dating-statistics/), which demonstrate that a good chunk of people are actually looking for committed relationships online. It is not surprising the see that proportionally more women are looking for committed long-term relationships. However, about 15% are looking for casual so the assumption that all women on dating apps are looking for serious relationships is not correct.

What Dating App Users Say They're Looking For

Whichever way around it is, honest communication is key. I invite you to be honest with yourself first and determine if you are also looking for a serious relationship or only becoming anxious and wanting more of the other person because you are feeling they are pulling back. In either case, honest communication is key and non-violent communication by Marshell Rosenberg teaches us to approach it with an observation. Statements such as “ I noticed you have been a bit distant lately. You used to call me every day and now we only talk twice a week. I am feeling a bit confused and am wondering if something is going on for you?” 

Approaching it with assumptions, blaming, and shaming will only make the other person get defensive and distant.

If you need more support in such situations, I am here to support you. Book a Free Dating empowerment session with me by booking a call on my website.

Scenario 2: You know you want a committed long-term relationship from the outset

My first observation about this scenario is, Do you want a serious relationship with anyone or the “Right Person”?

If the answer to the question above is the latter (which I hope it is ;), how do you know if they are the right one?

It takes time to get to know each other and each individual is unique and their circumstances are unique. Therefore, the pace at which they want to go through their dating journey is also unique.

How would you feel, if someone started obsessing about a serious relationship with you from the 3rd date? Would you not doubt their intentions, level of confidence and knowing their own value?

It would certainly feel like a put-off. However, I am an advocate of telling people from the outset what you are ultimately looking for with the right person for you. Not necessarily them, but the right person. Maybe not on the first date, but definitely relatively early on so if you are not looking for the same thing, neither of you gets frustrated or hurt in the process.

The Heart of the Matter

At the core of it all, what truly matters is the quality of the connection you share. Whether you're seeking the adrenaline rush of casual encounters or the warmth of a committed partnership, every interaction contributes to your growth.

In the grand rollercoaster of life, mismatched desires can be both thrilling and challenging. Yet, through open communication, empathy, compromise, and understanding, you can ride together, savouring the exhilaration while gracefully navigating the bumps.

Remember, every relationship is a unique journey. Each twist and turn and moment of connection and self-discovery contribute to your personal growth story. In the end, it's not just about the ride; it's about the memories you create together and what you learn from each encounter

Who knows what the next turn holds? Enjoy the ride!

Rea 💖 Dating and Relationship coach for women

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