Lite Love: Making It Work

Experts on behavior offer suggestions for couples on the verge of a relationship that features cuddles without commitment:

Cut the deal: Make sure you’re in agreement about expectations. This won’t work if one person is set on romance or sex. Define what is tolerable for each of you and commit to talking about relationship issues when they come up.

Monitor your boundaries: Nip any mixed messages in the bud. If he says he doesn’t want to date you but tries to sabotage your efforts to find someone else, call him on it. If she either assumes too much (acting as if you were her boyfriend) or treats you too casually (as if you were less than a best friend), bring it to her attention.

Brave the sex issue: It will come up sooner or later--either “Why aren’t we?” or “Should we?” To make these relationships successful, you have to understand that this is normal. And be prepared to talk about it.


Don’t turn this into a pseudo-romance: If you find yourself spending so much time with your lite lover that you’re not available to meet other people, make an effort to chip away at the comfort zone. Call less often, don’t spend weekend nights and holidays together, do more things by yourself. Make it clear that you need to look elsewhere, and then risk being alone.

Make the most of it: Keep in mind that lite love relationships usually end, or change, when you do meet someone else. In the meantime, treasure your friendship and don’t get frustrated by what is missing. Lite love may be no substitute for the real thing; neither is fat-free dressing. But both can fill a temporary need and be good for you in the long run.

Sources: David Eyler, Tina Tessina, Helen Fisher and Judith Davenport.