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Love Letters

Keeping it casual

Q. A few months ago I met a guy in a pretty random way. We both frequent the same website and happened to post on the same topic. He messaged me privately and we discovered we had a lot in common and that we live less than five miles from each other.

We messaged back and forth for a bit and decided to meet. There were instant sparks. And I mean instant. I admit, we probably moved too fast, but it happened. After a very short while, he said he couldn’t get serious and that whatever we had needed to be casual.

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Since I really enjoyed his company, I agreed and things were fine. I was OK with it, until he started doing things that seemed oddly like a relationship. He constantly told me how beautiful I was and how much he loved spending time with me. He couldn’t be near me without having his arms around me. When I complimented a shirt he was wearing, he said he’d give it to me but wear it first so it smelled like him. These are all things I associate with a relationship and not a casual fling. So I started getting feelings. Not unheard of, but when I mentioned taking it further, he again said it needed to be casual.

Am I reading more into things than I should? His behavior and his words seem to be polar opposites.

Easton

A. I’d like to know what he means by “casual.”

If casual means that he wants to see other people or that this is a relationship with a definite ending, I’d walk away — because you already want more. If casual means that he doesn’t know what he wants, you can stick it out as long as you’re honest with him about how you feel.

There’s a big difference between casual and slow. I’m all for slow and for enjoying the beginning of a relationship without feeling the need to jump ahead, but “casual” suggests a lack of accountability. You’ve been giving him your time for months now, and you deserve to know whether he has an open mind. Does he? Is “casual” his final answer?

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Actions often speak louder than words, but words are just as important. If he just wants to see how things progress over time, that’s fine, but if he’s using the dictionary definition of casual (look it up), you have to bail, no matter how many shirts he stinks up for your benefit.

READERS RESPOND:

You are a girl that he sleeps with, without the hang-ups of an actual relationship.

I am also wondering what his definition of “casual” would be. Me thinks he is not ready to date until he figures out what exactly he wants.

He is not in a committed relationship but he wants you to be.

Rather than ask the casual question, I would ask the exclusivity one. Because, really, to me, that cuts right to the heart of the matter.

He has told you exactly what he wants out of this relationship. Twice. Listen, and respond accordingly.

Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com.

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