How Do You Walk Away From A Casual Relationship You Wish Was Serious?

Ashley Batz for Bustle

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions will remain anonymous. Please send your sex and relationship inquiries to Now, on to today’s topic: how to move on when you want more than your partner is willing to give.

Q: “I have been in what I thought was going to be a casual relationship, but has now turned into something else for me. We have been together for two years, and I have become emotionally attached to this man.

I know this arrangement is wrong for me. I want more than just casual sex. I want a good and stable and intimate relationship. I know for a fact that he does not want anything more than what we have, and I can’t talk to him about it because it is useless (he’s simply not attached). I really want to break free, but I can’t. I can’t ignore his calls or make excuses. When he touches me, I just surrender and I forget every other thing. How can I walk out?”

A: I’m sorry to hear about this difficult situation that you’re in. It’s easy to start off a relationship saying it’s just going to be casual, but it’s hard to keep it that way for such a long time. And it’s definitely never easy to walk away when you’ve become emotionally attached to that person.

Nonetheless, it sounds like you know that the healthiest thing for you to do is to end this relationship. Here are 7 steps to help yourself leave.

Say What You Actually Feel


If you want to be in a serious relationship with this man, I recommend telling him that. You said you know for a fact that that’s not what he wants, but you didn’t say how you know — has he specifically said that? If he has, did he say it recently? Maybe he’s in the exact same position you’re in — thinking you only want to be casual, and worried about his escalating feelings. We all have the tendency to make assumptions about other people’s feelings, so I always recommend being straightforward and saying what you feel, whatever it is.

Even if you have already had this conversation with him, I still think it’s worth saying one more time, especially in the context of you needing to walk away. Though you have the best understanding of this relationship and its limits, it's still important to bring up; there’s a small chance that knowing he’s about to lose you might change his mind about a serious relationship. This is not about manipulating him into being with you; it’s just about being honest about what you need. Even if he still doesn’t want a relationship, knowing that you asked for what you wanted will make you feel better about walking away.

Tell Him What You Need

If you and this guy decide to part ways, you can also tell him that you need his support in maintaining distance between the two of you. You can say something like, “I care about you, so this is going to be hard for me. I would really appreciate it if you gave me some space and allowed me to move on. Please don’t call me, come see me, or try to change my mind.”

If he’s a decent person, he’ll respect your wishes. If you eventually want to be friends, you can let him know you’ll reach out when you think you’re ready. If you know you need to keep him out of your life permanently, you don’t need to mention that part now; just stress that you need this space right now.

Use Technology To Help Create Distance

You said that you can’t help but surrender to this guy’s touch; if you’re worried about your willpower when you’re in his presence, you can make things easier on yourself by having these conversations over email. Technology is great at helping create distance.

If you walk away, you can also block his number from your phone; you won’t have to worry about not being able to ignore his calls if he’s not even able to call you. You can also delete or block his email address and social media accounts (there are even apps to help you out with this).

Get Backup

Your friends can be a great help in these kinds of situations, holding you accountable and helping you move on. We’ve all been through tough breakups, so I’m sure you’ve had friends who have been where you are now, and are willing to repay the favor.

So don't be shy in looking to friends for help. Ask to stay with a friend for the first few days, when the temptations to reach out to him will be strongest. Ask your friends to check in with you and make sure you’re not getting in contact with this guy. Ask a friend to help you block his number and accounts. You can even physically hand over your phone to a friend if you don’t think you have the willpower to do this all yourself.

Fill Your Life With Other Things

You can also support yourself in not reaching out to this guy by filling your life with other fun, distracting, and fulfilling things. Start volunteering at a local charity. Plan a weekend getaway with your friends. Call your grandparents once a week. Enroll in an evening class at a community college. The busier and more fulfilling your life is, the easier it will be to move on.

Go To Therapy

Even though was technically just supposed to be a casual fling, it has become a lot more to you. So if you decide to walk away, the next few months are going to be like a regular break-up, and it's going to be important to allow yourself to grieve the end of this relationship.

One of the best ways to do that is to go to therapy. I’ve worked with a lot of clients going through break-ups, and they all say the same thing — “I’m worried my friends are already getting sick of me talking about this.” When you’re paying someone to listen to you, you don’t have to feel guilty for talking about the same thing over and over again!

But the most important part of going to therapy is that it'll help you learn something about yourself from this relationship. Maybe you’ve been allowing yourself to settle for a few too many casual relationships, when you’ve really wanted something serious all along. Maybe there was something about the dynamic between you and your former partner that reminded you of your relationship with your father. We could all stand to get to know ourselves a bit better, and therapy is a great vehicle for that.

Remind Yourself That You Deserve The Relationship That You Want


If you want a serious relationship, then you deserve one! This man you've been dating probably isn’t a bad guy; he’s just not able to be the guy you need. I know it’s hard to walk away from someone you care about, but keep reminding yourself that you’re freeing up space in your life — so that someone who is on the same page as you can walk into it.