Casual Dating 101: The Definition, Rules, And Motivations

Just to clear the air, there’s casual dating and serious dating. But what’s the difference? Casual dating means you get to meet new people and make connections without getting too attached.

For diehard fans of this form of dating, it’s all about fun and no heartbreaks.

But casual dating is a delicate art, and many people end up in complicated relationships and situationships after messing up the rules. 

So, to keep your dating life fun and charming, you should learn a thing or two about dating casually.

Luckily, this form of dating it’s not that hard to understand.

Where Do You Draw The Line Between Casual Dating And Serious Dating?

This is where it gets fuzzy, and it’s also why most people end up getting hurt.

First of all, understand that casual dating is not always exclusive. In this form of dating, partners generally assume they can see other people unless there’s an agreement to keep things exclusive.

Nonetheless, it rises above “hookups” and “friends with benefits.”

There is some level of emotional attachment as well, but there are no relationship labels. The whole idea here is to have fun.

In serious dating, the goals are more long term. So, although there might be plenty of fun with serious dating, there is a greater focus on the future of the relationship.

That is why labels like “girlfriend”, “boyfriend” and so forth are used. The emotional commitment is much stronger as well.

But there is one interesting thing you should also know: casual dating can turn into serious dating.

Obviously, if you can see that there is something more to the romantic fun you have been having with the person and that the emotions have grown much stronger, you can turn the whole thing into a serious relationship.

That said, some people date casually even when they are already in a committed relationship.

So, if by any chance you want to get into such an arrangement, be sure to communicate your situation to all the parties involved. Otherwise, you might get accused of being unfaithful, and you might unwittingly break hearts and complicate your personal life.

Casual Dating Does Not Have To Include Sex

Casual dating and casual sex are two fairly different things. Although you have something resembling a relationship with your casual date, you do not have to have physical intimacy.

You and your date might just be “hanging out” or “chilling.” It could simply be a matter of enjoying each other’s company as friends.

Yes, you can still have sex, but that’s not a requirement.

What To Expect When Dating

Everyone dates for a particular reason. Some do it for intimacy, others prioritize companionship because not all people are crazy about sexual relationships. A lot of people just want people they can have fun with.

The most important thing is that everyone gets what they expect out of the relationship, regardless of its seriousness.

Talking to your partner about your desires and limits can help you get into the right relationship. Conflicting interests in a relationship are usually what causes stress and misunderstandings in relationships.

Why Date Casually?

1. To Learn More About Relationships

If you are someone who thinks people should always date with the intention of getting into a serious relationship, then casual dating might not appeal to you. 

You might see it as a waste of time.

But there are people who are more open-minded and have a more laid-back attitude towards dating.

For these people, dating casually might seem like a perfect chance to learn more about relationships and even meet enough people before settling on one.

2. Due To Fear Of Commitment

We also have a group of people who dread commitment. Therefore, dating casually might be an easier way for them to settle into a serious relationship without feeling overwhelmed.

3. To Avoid Rejection

Many people fear rejection. Less serious dating might appeal to such individuals since they can still date without investing too many of their emotions into the relationship.

4. To Get Back Into The Dating World After A Bad Relationship

Another reason this kind of dating might be an option is that it can help someone ease into relationships after surviving a toxic relationship.

In this way, people who still have emotional wounds to heal can date and have the option of backing off in case they are not ready for a serious relationship without getting hurt or hurting anyone.

5. To Learn More About Yourself

For those new to dating, casual dating can be a great way to understand what they want out of a partner. By involving yourself with someone, you can find out what you think about people who have certain personalities or beliefs and decide if that works for you or not.

6. To Make Your Love Life Fun

There are those of us who think dating should be fun, and it doesn’t get any more fun than when it’s casual. You can avoid all the pressure of dating while having all the fun that comes with being in a relationship by dating casually.

It doesn’t matter if you want someone to spend the night with you, go out to have some fun, or help you out as a loving partner typically would: less serious dating can make all this possible without giving you any relationship pressure.

Important Casual Dating Rules

1. No Ghosting

Despite the fact that this type of dating might not seem so serious, ghosting should never be an option. It’s not appropriate even for people you barely know. So, it’s also not right to ghost people you are dating.

If you want to move on from the person you have been dating, tell them so. That will be much easier on them and you as well.

Even though they might get upset momentarily, they will respect your decision. You don’t have to go out of your way to explain why you are no longer interested if you don’t want to.

2. Respect Boundaries

Every relationship needs boundaries. It does not matter how serious or casual it is.

As far as casual relationships go, the key boundaries to define including understanding whether or not sex is on the table.

But obviously, nobody should force you into a relationship you don’t like. If you feel like the other person’s terms won’t work for you, then you can find a casual partner who can meet your needs.

3. Honor Your Commitments

A casual relationship can seem less serious, and that can make its commitments seem less serious as well.

But if you make plans, make an effort to honor them.

Even if a better offer comes along, be cautious of the other person’s feelings before moving on. Leaving someone high and dry just because you had nothing serious going on is never a good idea.

4. Be Honest

Even if you plan on dating more than one person casually, it’s important to let everyone in on what’s happening.

This will ensure those who want a more serious relationship don’t complicate your life with demands you don’t care for.

Also let the person know what you expect from the relationship.

5. If Your Feelings Get Too Strong, Mention It

Yes, it was all fun and games at first, and you both knew this was nothing serious. But now, your feelings for this person have grown and you would like something a little more serious.

Maybe you would even like to take the relationship public, put a label on it, or get intimate if that was not initially happening.

If that happens, don’t be afraid to mention it to your partner fearing that you are breaking your agreement. The honesty will let them know the status of the relationship you share, regardless of whether they play along or not.

6. Don’t Put Your Casual Dating Life On Social Media

Tempting as it might be, putting your casual partners on social media is huge mistake.

Having lots of pictures of posts about the person can complicate things, not only for you, but also for them.

7. Accept That Casual Dating Is Not Everyone’s Cup Of Tea

If you get attached too fast, then dating casually dating might not be a good idea. You might suffer more heartaches than you could ever imagine in the process.

Also, if you are looking for something serious, then it’s best to give casual dating a pass. Otherwise, you will get frustrated when you realize the relationship is not heading in the direction you intended when you started.

Some people also need a relationship with clear labels. That will not work out for you if you get into casual relationships.

Similarly, some people like having strong emotional connections with no room for third parties to get involved. In that case, casual dating would be the last thing you need because exclusivity does not always make it into the equation.

In a strange way, the very things that make serious dating work are the same things that ruin casual dating.

8. Respect Is Still Very Important When Dating Casually

Although not everyone would respect casual relationships, those involved must maintain respect for it to work.

Every relationship that lacks respect is doomed. It will either fail or cause a lot of unnecessary pain.

So, Is Casual Dating For You?

Ultimately, this is a question you will have to answer yourself. Hopefully, after everything we have looked at, you know whether or not you can handle the unique demands of this relationship.

If you don’t want a serious relationship, and would like to play the field or keep things less serious, then casual dating might be precisely what you need.

Otherwise, if your intention is to build a long and lasting relationship, then your needs would be better served by avoiding people who want to date casually.

At the end of the day, what matters is that your relationship needs are addressed. So, it’s up to you if the answer to your relationship needs can be found in serious or casual dating.