How your dating life looks depends on what you want. Casual dating vs serious dating, which do you prefer? Neither is perfect but the choice is yours.
When dipping your toe into the world of dating, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. By not understanding your desires, you could easily end up hurting someone who wants more than you do. You might not mean to, but when you don’t know what you want, you could lead them on without realizing it. So, casual dating vs serious dating, where do you land?
Not everyone feels ready for a serious relationship. Provided you’re open and honest about it with the person you’re seeing, there is no harm in enjoying casual dating. If you’re seeing someone who clearly wants a relationship, keeping things light and casual isn’t going to work.
The only way to navigate these choppy dating waters is by having an adult conversation. Yes, you need to have the ‘where is this going?’ talk. Terrifying indeed.
[Read: Talking to someone about your relationship – DTR made easy]
Honest communication matters
The problem is, most people try to avoid this conversation completely. It adds pressure, makes things awkward, and figuring out the right time to have it can be difficult.
You don’t want to bring it up too soon. But then again, the fact is that most of us say what we think the other person wants to hear when we start seeing someone, out of fear of coming on too strong.
Relationships of all types are complicated. But if you’re open and honest from the start about whether you’re looking for serious or casual, everything becomes much easier because both parties know where you stand. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship – 16 steps to a better love]
Casual dating vs serious dating – What do both terms really mean?
To know which type of dating scenario you want, ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I want to be with just one person?
2. Do I want to work towards a settled future with someone right now?
3. Does the thought of being committed make me feel suffocated?
That’s it, literally three questions, but you have to answer them honestly.
If you can’t say that you want to be with only one person, then you’re not ready for a serious relationship. In that case, go casual. There is nothing wrong with it, as long as you’re honest! [Read: Am I ready for a relationship? The questions to ask yourself]
If you like the idea of being with just one person and crave the love and attention of building a future, serious is the route for you.
When you think about it, if the idea of being committed to someone right now doesn’t sit well with you, then you’re just not ready. That’s fine too. It doesn’t mean that if you want to go down the casual line right now you’re never going to have a serious relationship. It’s just that it’s how it sits for you right now. It might also be that you think you’re ready for a serious relationship but later on, you decide that casual is all you want.
The lines between casual and serious can become blurred, so let’s explore what each really looks like. [Read: Types of relationships – 26 ways to define your love life]
What is casual dating?
Casual dating is when you see someone, but there is no commitment towards the future or even to stay exclusive to each other.
You may be seeing more than one person, and provided you’re on the same page about it, there’s no issue. The issues arise when one person thinks they’re dating casually and fine to see other people, and the other person thinks they’re exclusive. This results in very difficult times and an upset partner.
Casual dating doesn’t have a commitment, and it’s not serious. This doesn’t mean that it can’t progress to a serious relationship in the future.
But for now, there is no talk of the future. Casual dating is firmly in the here and now only. [Read: 15 reasons why casual dating can be the best thing you need right now]
How often two people who are in the casual dating scene see each other is totally personal. Some can see each other once per week, while others are talking on the phone all the time and seeing each other three or even four times a week. There is no hard and fast rule. The theme is that there is no expectation or commitment.
Put simply, casual dating is meant to be totally chilled out. You don’t talk about the future, and you don’t have long-term expectations from each other.
The problem with casual dating is the non-monogamy side when it comes to sex. If you are seeing more than one person and you are sexually active with both, then you must make sure that you are careful and protected. [Read: How to casually date without getting attached]
The main features of a casual relationship are:
1. It may or may not be exclusive
It’s possible to be casually dating someone but be seeing other people. But, you might also choose to remain faithful to that person yet not be serious. Can you see how it can get confusing?
The point is that there’s no right or wrong, you just need to both be in agreement. [Read: What does exclusive mean? 20 ways to know if you’re ready]
2. It’s usually about sex
Casual dating is often about sex and having fun. For sure, it can also be about not going to parties and other get-togethers alone, but you tend to do that with friends. For the most part, if you’re in a casual dating situation, you’re in it for the benefits it brings, i.e. sexy fun.
3. There should be no feelings involved
You can like each other as humans – that always helps! However, for a casual relationship to work you both need to keep your feelings out of it.
As soon as one of you starts to catch feelings, it becomes complicated. If the other person doesn’t feel the same way, one person is going to get hurt. Of course, it might be that you both start to fall for one another, and then you can talk about moving towards something more serious. [Read: How not to catch feelings for someone when all you want is a hookup]
4. You don’t make plans
Your plans go no further than hooking up the following night. When you start making plans together, you’re not casual anymore, you’re moving into something else. That’s when it gets blurry. You might talk about going to a party at the same time, but you’re probably not going together officially.
What is serious dating?
On the other hand, serious dating can be described as being in a monogamous relationship with someone whom you see on a very regular basis. There is an expectation that your union will either remain close for a long time to come. Or, if you both want it, you may move towards marriage or children.
People can be in serious relationships for years and years and never get married. It really comes down to what both parties want. It’s certainly far more on the cards than with a casual dating situation! [Read: 19 signs you’re totally ready for a serious relationship]
Many people love the comfort and security of being in a serious relationship, while others erupt into a cold sweat at the thought of it.
Feeling trapped isn’t something you should experience when you’re in a serious relationship. If you do have that feeling, this isn’t the right situation for you.
The major difference between casual dating and serious dating is that serious dating is between two people only. There is no third party involved, and an episode of being with another person is classed as cheating. [Read: 15 signs that tell you that you are at the exclusive stage]
The main features of serious dating include:
1. It’s usually monogamous
Unless you both agree to have an open relationship or be a part of a throuple, serious dating is a monogamous situation. You are both with each other only and the idea of either of you straying is upsetting and distressing. Of course, as we’ve mentioned, if cheating does happen, then you’re in a cheating scandal and that can damage or even end your relationship for good.
2. There are serious feelings involved
You don’t have to have said “I love you” to be in a serious relationship, but the feelings are heading that way. At some point, they will reach the L word.
A serious relationship is based upon mutual respect, trust, and love. In a casual dating situation, it’s a problem if someone catches feelings. In a serious dating situation, it’s a problem if someone loses feelings. [Read: What does love feel like? 24 feelings you can’t deny]
3. It’s all about the future
It’s about the present too, for sure, but a serious relationship has plans, lots of them. You might plan to go away on vacation next year, you might start talking about wedding bells if that’s the route you want to go down, perhaps you’ll think about a family.
Again, there are no right or wrong routes because everyone has their own desires for life, but in a serious relationship, you have plans and they’re made together.
4. You’re official
Serious relationships aren’t hidden or played down. If you’re in a serious relationship, your friends and family members know about it and you’ve probably met. If not, then it’s on the cards soon.
You may or may not be social media official, depending upon whether or not that’s important to you. The point is, you’re out there and official as a couple. [Read: 9 signs it’s time to make your relationship official]
5. It’s about being together and not just about sex
Don’t assume that serious relationships start to become boring in the sex stakes, because that’s not true!
However, serious relationships are about more than just sex. It’s about experiences you have together, intimacy, and building towards the future goals you both share.
Casual dating vs serious dating in today’s world
The rise of social media and dating apps has meant that the debate between casual dating vs serious dating has become more intense. Apps such as Tinder make it very easy for those who are seeking a casual hookup to achieve their aim, but many do not make their intentions clear. It’s also made it far too easy for those who are unhappy in a serious relationship to seek solace from someone else. [Read: 15 Tinder tips you cannot ignore if you ever want a date]
There are equally as many people searching for a serious relationship who use these apps, and by interacting with someone who is basically only after a good time and isn’t honest about their future intentions, heartache is on the horizon.
On the plus side, these platforms make it far easier to meet like-minded people with similar interests. We no longer have to go out on a Saturday night and pluck up the courage to speak to someone at the bar. A situation that strikes fear into the hearts of many!
Now we can sit at home in our pajamas and meet all manner of different people. If you take away the possible downsides of that situation, then you have to admit that technology has turned the dating world on its head! [Read: The pros and cons of using dating apps to snag a date]
The way you date is a personal choice
Which do you prefer? Are you a serious dating fan, or do you prefer the free and easy feel of casual dating? It’s important not to put a label on either in terms of which is best.
We all need different things at different times in our lives. Perhaps you’ve come out of a long-term relationship and you’re really not feeling the love for another, but you want the comfort and fun of a casual fling. In that case, as long as the other person feels the same, go for it!
Equally, maybe you’ve had a few casual dating endeavors and you’re tired of the lack of true connection. In that case, maybe you’re ready for something more meaningful and special. A serious relationship could give you the security and companionship that you’re craving. [Read: Single for life – Enjoy the ride and find the one along the way]
Of course, there is a third option – staying single. There is nothing wrong with simply doing you. If you want time to enjoy your life, to avoid having to please someone else, or arrange dates around everything else you have planned, why should you even have to? It’s perfectly fine and totally acceptable to enjoy time alone and focus on yourself. It’s to be recommended from time to time!
[Read: The most unfair but relevant dating rules we all have to live by]
Casual dating vs serious dating doesn’t produce a clear winner. It really depends upon the situation you’re in, and the way you feel. Both will teach you important life lessons. Embrace them both at the right times!