I don't want a relationship, okay?

Hi Alice,

You have so much information and advice for those who want to start, maintain, or end a relationship; but then there are people like me. I have no desire to be in a relationship with anyone. I'm a full time student, I work two jobs, and I like hanging out with my friends and family when I do have spare time. I'm not interested in the feelings, emotions, and time it takes to be in a relationship. Basically, I'll have sex with anyone before I even think about holding their hand. Then afterwards, the guy will usually end up getting his feelings hurt because I don't want to date him. Is there anything strange or unhealthy about this??

Dear Reader,

Some folks pair off like lovebirds, while others like to fly solo. Humans are naturally social beings and spend a great deal of time interacting with others. Sharing life's ups and downs with friends and family can bring a sense of closeness and fulfillment that you might not be able to find in your professional or academic life. Likewise, some people enjoy romantic relationships for companionship, commitment, and physical and emotional intimacy. However, there's nothing wrong with savoring your independence, as long as you're honest with yourself and your partners about what you want and don't want out of each connection — sexually and otherwise. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what shape your relationships will take. So, the short answer to your question is that there's nothing strange or unhealthy about your choice at all!

So, why the focus on the romantic? As you implied, society often puts a premium on romantic relationships. From age-old love stories to reality dating shows, coupledom is portrayed as the romantic ideal. In many cultures marriage is a "glue" that binds together individuals, families, and communities. However, there are many other expressions of love and togetherness that don't require you to tie the knot, or even date. As you suggest, relationships with your friends and family could be fulfilling that need for you.

It may be helpful to sort out your feelings, values, and desires related to your relationships. For example, are you satisfied with your current social scene, or do you want make more time for friends, family, or dating? Do you wish you had a "special someone" or are you happy right now without that type of relationships in your life? When thinking about sexual relationships, what's your take on sex without commitment? Do you feel comfortable getting it on and then heading out, or would you prefer to get to know each other a bit more, before or after? There are no right or wrong answers here, so go with what feels best for you.

The tricky part is that everyone brings their own preferences to the dinner table and the bedroom. As you've experienced, it can cause discomfort and hurt feelings when, after a roll in the hay, your sexy someone wants to take you out on a date and you'd rather part ways. Since there's no way to predict how your partner may feel, perhaps you could try being more upfront about your intentions. For example, before things really heat up, you could say something like, "I'm not looking for a relationship, but I'd still like to have some fun together." Put into your own words, that warning gives your partner a fair heads-up about where you'd like the experience to go.  

All that being said, navigating one-nighters or even steady commitments is easier said than done. Even a short fling requires some amount of time and effort, and it's likely that emotions will come into play at one point or another. To gather more advice or a different perspective, you may want to take a look at some of the related Q&As about "friends with benefits" and other relationship quandaries. You could also take a gander at the Go Ask Alice! Relationships archive.

Here's to the direction you choose, single or otherwise!

Last updated Feb 10, 2017
Originally published Oct 02, 2009

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