Is chivalry really dead?

The use of the term 'sneaky link' is on the rise, but just how casual can a relationship be?

16th May 2022
Image: unsplash
It’s not uncommon for university students to engage in casual relationships, often commonly referred to as a ‘sneaky link’ or ‘friend with benefits’. A lot of the time, this ‘relationship’ doesn’t involve going on dates – most of the time it doesn’t even include going out in public. The whole idea is that it’s supposed to be entirely casual and though sometimes this doesn’t work out, when it does it can be a mutually beneficial fun situation.

The sneaky link is great for a number of reasons. It’s having fun without the risk of heartbreak, you can even have one whilst having feelings for someone else. When it works as its supposed to, it’s casual bliss and can even make university just that little bit less lonely, especially if it’s someone you’re genuinely friends with.

However, in my experience – sometimes casual relationships don’t work as they’re supposed to. Sometimes, in the midst of meaningless sex and a sincere lack of feelings, people can forget that the other person is in fact, a human being. I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve been text in the early hours of the morning with some variation of the phrase ‘wanna hang?’, to which I usually respond by saying I am in bed drinking ice water with a facemask on. Then, I get the same text again a few days later and the cycle continues, all whilst they ignore any sight of me in public.

you can treat someone like a human being without ruining the nature of the relationship

Some people might not see the issue with this, and that’s okay – maybe I’m just not cut out for casual relationships. But I think there’s a huge difference between being no strings attached and just being dickish – you can treat someone like a human being without ruining the nature of the relationship.

It boils down to the fact that sex is personal, at least to me. And I’m not saying that I only want to have it with people that send me good morning texts and hold my hand in public, but only coming to me in the early hours of the morning, getting what you want and then leaving is not okay, no matter how casual it is. It really sucks to see someone in public who’s seen you at your most vulnerable for them to completely ignore you and pretend you don’t exist.

The liminal space between a one night stand and a relationship is tricky to navigate, but (and maybe I’m just naïve) it’s not impossible, and if you can’t be casual with someone without treating them like a sex object then I’m beginning to think it’s not me who’s not cut out for casual relationships, it’s you.

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