Why Is “Catching Feelings” Such A Bad Thing?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “I hope I don’t catch feelings for him.” Catching feelings means you develop (unwanted) romantic feelings for someone you’re hooking up with or casually dating.

By Meghan Dillon2 min read
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Shutterstock/Olena Yakobchuk

Article Updated: 1/22/2021

Basically, people who are afraid of "catching feelings" are describing falling in love with someone as if it's a cold or the flu that should be avoided at all costs. In a culture that celebrates hooking up with no strings attached over committed relationships, developing feelings for someone you’re casually dating is the ultimate taboo. So I’m posing two big questions here: 1) Why is “catching feelings” bad? and 2) What’s the point of dating if you’re not looking for romance?

Why Is "Catching Feelings" Bad?

People act like catching feelings is like catching a sickness that must be avoided at all costs. I knew girls in college who would develop feelings for the guy they were hooking up with and then completely ghost him to avoid confronting their feelings. Nowadays, women are expected to hook up with no emotions because developing feelings is often seen as being weak. This contributes to the feminist narrative that women need to be more like men to be empowered, which completely disregards the strength behind femininity and vulnerability.

The feminist narrative that women need to be like men to be empowered disregards the strength behind femininity.

Feelings don’t make you weak; they make you strong.

Remember the Sex and the City episode where Carrie was determined to “have sex like a man,” a.k.a. hooking up with no feelings or remorse? The whole notion of women “having sex like men” is part of the narrative that women need to be more like men to be empowered. 

This narrative is deeply problematic because it implies that femininity and having emotions are inherently weak, which is why catching feelings makes you weak. This couldn’t be further from the truth because it takes strength and courage to be vulnerable and to be honest about how you feel. Just because our culture likes to say that having feelings makes you weak doesn’t mean that an emotionless woman is a strong woman. In fact, they have it completely wrong.

Catching Feelings Is Probably Unavoidable

We’re built to develop emotionally intimate bonds in our platonic friendships and in our romantic relationships. Even if you’re dating someone casually and avoiding sex, it’s hard not to develop a bond of emotional intimacy because you’re sharing parts of yourself through conversation and shared experiences, and you’re receiving the gift of self from the other person as they open up about themselves to you. 

The more you share yourself with someone, the more your intimate emotional bond increases. 

The more you share yourself with someone, the more your intimate emotional bond increases. This can sometimes lead to platonic bonds turning into romantic bonds. It’s why it’s common to fall for a friend of the opposite gender. It’s hard to not build emotional intimacy with someone you get to know well, even if it’s someone you’re dating casually. 

Even if you avoid sex to avoid catching feelings for this person, there’s still a strong chance of developing an emotional bond. In all honesty, why would you want to date someone, even casually, if you don’t have an emotional bond or connection?

What’s the Point of Dating If You’re Not Looking for Romance?

If you’re not dating to find for an eventual spouse or romance, what’s the point of dating? You’re only dating to get your heart broken. If we’re dating with purpose, we should be dating for romance and we should hope to develop feelings for the men we date. Wasting time on guys we know we’re not interested in truly dating is cheap for ourselves and the men. 

Closing Thoughts

The idea that catching feelings is a bad thing also reinforces the idea that having feelings makes you weak, when being vulnerable actually takes a lot of strength. Life is too short to waste it on guys we know we’ll never end up marrying. Yeah, a real relationship takes time and work, but it’s a better use of your time than an emotionless hookup that leaves you feeling worn out and alone.