Are you just a booty call but want more?


Are you a booty call, friend with benefits, fallback or in a casual relationship when you want more?

Many people want the companionship and regular sex of someone with the least amount of effort possible. This is fine if you’re both on the same page with this, but I see so many clients who want commitment and possibly children but they get stuck in relationships going nowhere fast. Their pain and dissatisfaction is heartbreaking.

Our instant online gratification hook-up culture has extinguished our relationship expectations. Nihilistic and jaded anti-love sentiment can make us way too casual about ourselves. I see so many clients trying to convince themselves they won’t “catch feelings” and that they can keep it simply physical. Just stop. Your values are important and you can clearly articulate what you want.

Hopper, Excursion into Philosophy 1959

How to tell if you’re in a pseudo relationship

They’ve told you they don’t want a relationship or anything serious right now but you still stick around. You can’t change their mind. You can’t prove yourself to them. You won’t win by waiting it out after a year of casual sex. You’re not a car that needs multiple test drives.

You’ve been giving all of yourself whilst requiring nothing more than a bare minimum in return. This reflects how little you value yourself and what you’ll tolerate.

You have a history of casual relationships because you run from people who want serious commitment from you because it feels “uncomfortable”. You might be commitment phobic yourself and the “challenge” of the emotionally unavailable person means you don’t have to look within and confront your fears about commitment, abandonment and how loveable you are.

Your sexual partner doesn’t make time to see you regularly, doesn’t follow through fast enough after dates, isn’t interested in meeting your friends, family or you theirs. You may have ignored red flags and desperately don’t want to be alone.

There’s no emotional and sexual boundaries. They exploit kink and polyamorous identities as “excuses” for their bad behaviour. Respectful behaviour is important for any identity or lifestyle.


Your sexual partner keeps you at arms length and avoids emotional intimacy. The “relationship” isn’t developing and a year later you’re still their “once a week shag”.

You settle for crumbs and focus obsessively on them. Yeah, sure they like your company, like sex with you, maybe they did a nice thing for you last week… You might focus on that one tiny thing so much that you block out the negatives.

You hope by having sex you will get emotional intimacy. Don’t. If you get emotionally attached to people you’re being sexual with, take your time getting to know them first! Sex can bond you to the wrong person for years.

If you want a committed partner and you’ve been dating someone for a few months but they still don’t know what they want, it’s time to hold your head up high and say goodbye. You can’t force someone to commit. Stop clinging desperately to what you don’t want when you could be out there finding what you do want. You deserve it.

Cat O Dowd
Sex Therapist & Couples Counsellor

Art- Narcissus and Echo: Solomon Joseph.

Excursion into Philosophy and Summer in the City:  Edward Hopper

Relationships are not products and love cannot be caught.

Relationships are not products.
What online dating apps, pick artists books and commitment trap programmes are doing to dating..

“We turn wimps and geeks into supercharged macho studs!!!”
Pick up artist products lure men through promising multitudes of sexual partners and the “‘cost-benefit’ analysis of casual sexual hook ups without the supposed “hassles” of relationships or commitment.
Relationships are depicted as games of instant gratification and women as exploitable commodities.

Women are sold equally gender stereotyped products guaranteeing; You Really Can Capture His Heart And Make Him Love You Forever!” … This sells women the idea that men are naturally scared of relationships and need to be manipulated into a relationship!

However this promise to “capture love” sells a flawed premise.
You can’t capture love and you sure as hell can’t force anyone to love you. True love is freely given without games or manipulation. It is a gift not an obligation.

Online hook up apps can give the illusion that there’s a perfect person out there for us– when in reality a relationship is two imperfect people coming together to create a sanctuary of love in this rollercoaster world we live in.

Our culture has unreasonable expectations that the “perfect love” happens without work or effort and our true “soul mate” will naturally fulfil all our desires.

Think of all the work and effort that it takes to perfect the playing of a musical instrument.. Relationships are the same. We don’t just naturally wake up and know how to play the violin! We have to practice and practice and learn and grow and perfect our skills until we get better and better! At first when we pick up that violin it might sound like a cat scratching a tin roof!  We benefit from the help of a music teacher, just like how I help my couples and single clients improve their relationship skills and over time we get better.  We definitely don’t just find the perfect violin in a shop that means we don’t have to have lessons, read music or even practice anymore!

So much choice so why settle down?

Apps can bombard us with so much choice it can feel like a sacrifice to give up options and settle with just one. You know when you’re at the salad bar and there’s so many delicious options you worry that your choice isn’t right and perhaps you preferred the others? Or you keep browsing and taste testing, hoping to find the perfect one in a perpetual cycle of dissatisfaction? I’ve done this before!  You’ll send yourself bananas on the eternal quest to find the perfect meal or the perfect partner.
Choice doesn’t necessarily equal good! Commitment phobic types can stay in this state for a very long time. Never settling down as soon as they notice their partner has flaws. Some of these types can put their partner up so high on a pedestal that they just can’t cope when they realise  that this idealised vision is just a human with warts and all. But more about this type of love later.

“Consumer dating” encourages us to look at potential partners as disposable products. People are not products.

Mature love involves commitment, true intimacy and meeting anothers emotional, mental and physical needs. Those terrified of true intimacy can perpetually hide in the world of “hook ups” that can act as a protective defensive mechanism to being hurt.

My Partner Isn’t Perfect!

People can become so highly critical of their partners that they will never ever be satisfied. 
Sometimes once we know our partner is committed to us (the idealised honeymoon phase) we can start trying to change them into our version of the “perfect partner” who is better suited to our own selfish needs. 
This is the “power struggle” and second phase of the relationship, where you might obsess over all your differences with your partner whereas before you mainly noticed the similarities.

Rather than obsessing on everything that is wrong with your partner, try focussing on how you can improve yourself and what you bring to the relationship. A relationship is the combined work of two people together. It’s not a passive process of ordering what you want from a menu, scrutinising it for flaws and returning it for a replacement when flaws are detected or boredom sets in.

I see clients who begin relationships preoccupied with; “What can I do for my lover?” which transforms over time into: “What am I getting out of this person and this relationship?”
 Remember to accept difference, embrace compromise and work on unconditionally loving your partner as a complete package-flaws and all.

This article appeared in CIAO magazine and was designed for people in non abusive relationships. If you are worried you are in an abusive relationship then please get in touch..