Sex-only maintenance arrangements and situationships are artificial substitutes for authentic, healthy relationships. Too many people use them as placeholders, draining the energy and diminishing the focus needed to successfully navigate to such sustainable loving relationships. They distract from the important work of cultivating and honoring your relationship with your self, the primary purpose of single life and time between relationships. Also, as illustrated in Charlot’s examples in the chapter, it is extremely difficult, especially over time, for partners to be physically intimate without forming emotional attachments. Such attachments can be difficult (and even potentially dangerous) to break when one partner “catches feelings” for an emotionally unavailable other (even when they agree to “maintenance only” terms in the beginning). Too many people don’t find out that they really can’t handle such relationships until after they enter one. Too often, especially when it ends, the consequences are painful, and even tragic.
That said, Charlot’s endorsement of dating multiple people without the expectation that every dating relationship lead to lifelong commitment is in absolute lockstep with the “sifting and sorting” process Zara endorses as a healthy, self-loving way to identify and engage with the people best qualified for healthy relationships with you. Charlot’s book is authoritatively written, without losing the author’s voice as the sophisticated, fun-loving aunt, big sister or girlfriend you can trust to give it to you straight, no chaser. (This is actually a family trait and something else she and her cousin Zara have in common.) The 5 Phases of Dating is a great resource for those who need a framework and process to follow in order to date productively and enjoyably on the path to authentic relationship success.
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