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How Long Should You Casually Date Someone Before It Gets Serious?

You’re seeing someone, but now you’re wondering how long should you casually date someone before commitment. And how do you move from casual to serious?

how long should you casually date someone

When it comes to dating, this is a common question. So, how long should you casually date someone? Are three weeks too little? Too long? This is a great question.

When you are casually dating someone, it might start as a fling, or it could start with expectations of it leading to something more serious. When you are casual, you don’t have any routine, standing plans, or invite each other to everything.

Casually dating someone can be fun and can meet some people’s needs, but not all. So, it’s important to keep your eye on the relationship and see when things shift – for better or for worse.

Sometimes you can feel it moving towards something more serious because you are incorporating each other into your lives in a more meaningful way. 

[Read: How to read the signs your casual relationship is starting to get serious]

What exactly is casual dating? 

These days, casual relationships are fairly common. Sometimes they start out as hookups or strictly a sexual encounter. But when you are hanging out more and more often with the same person, you might wonder what it is turning into. [Read: What is casual dating? And how to know if you can handle it]

When a couple is casually dating, it could mean that they aren’t exclusive – hence the word “casual.” These people are not committed to each other, and they are just enjoying having a simple relationship with no rules or strings attached. 

Sometimes, both of them are even dating other people. And because of that, there are no conversations that discuss anything long-term or commitment-related. 

So, there is no “where is this going?” talk between them.

Usually, casual dating involved things like sex, dates, and hanging out. There are no expectations for anything more than that. [Read: Casual dating vs serious dating – What’s your dating speed for now?]

However, if a casual relationship isn’t well defined with understood rules, then there can be misunderstandings. One person could feel like they are being led on if there are different expectations. So, there needs to be a mutual understanding and agreement to avoid getting hurt.

So, in a casual relationship, it’s important to be upfront and honest with the other person right from the beginning.

But that doesn’t mean that casual dating can’t turn into something more serious. After trying it out, maybe you both realize that you are starting to really get attached to each other. [Read: 19 signs you’re clearly ready for a serious relationship and ready to commit]

Can casual dating become serious?

Sure, of course, they can!

There are many times when a couple who is casually dating decides that they want to become committed. Maybe they’re spent a lot of time together and they realize that they don’t really want anyone else. Sometimes they might even accidentally fall in love.

There is always the chance that the casual couple can turn into a serious one if that happens on both ends. However, some people decide that they can’t continue the way they were because one of them is becoming possessive or jealous. [Read: How to date casually without getting emotionally attached – 25 hurt-free rules]

Just because someone is feeling possessive or jealous doesn’t even necessarily mean that they want to be serious – they might just not want their casual partner to be with anyone else *which isn’t fair*.

How long should you casually date someone?

If you are wondering how long you should casually date this person because you think you’re getting attached or even falling in love, you might want to bring up the fact that you want to get serious. 

In all honesty, there’s no scientific formula telling you the precise time you should become exclusive with your partner. Every couple is different.

Some couples who casually date immediately feel ready to label the relationship while other couples take weeks, even months, before making it serious. Plus, there are a couple of factors that affect people’s decisions: timing and distance. If you’re not seeing them often, then it’ll take longer to become exclusive. [Read: How many dates before a relationship becomes official]

Also, many couples don’t actually talk about becoming exclusive, they just sort of naturally progress. At the end of the day, it all depends on what you are feeling for each other. If you have doubts about them, then you’re probably not going to jump into a serious relationship right away.

Most experts agree that casual relationships usually last anywhere from a few weeks to 3-4 months. If you haven’t had the relationship move to exclusivity and commitment by the fourth month, then maybe your partnership doesn’t have much of a future beyond being casual. However, there really are no rules for casual dating.

So, is there a right time to become exclusive with someone? No. If you’re feeling you want to take it to the next level, then you should make the next move. [Read: Dating vs relationship – How to read the signs and know your status instantly]

How to move from casual dating to a serious relationship

Now, if you’re wondering how to go from casual to exclusive, that’s a different story. But we’re going to help you out and show you the best ways to take a casual relationship to exclusivity.

Who said love was easy? [Read: 14 stages of a new relationship to define your budding romance]

1. Be clear with what you want

There are some people who date without any real idea of what they want, and that’s okay. But, if you want to make your dating experience easier, then you should figure out what you’re looking for.

Do you want to be in a relationship? Or is casual dating working out well for you? Everyone has their own needs, so whatever you choose is fine. Just be clear with the other person. [Read: What does a casual relationship mean to a guy and your future?]

2. Take time before making a move

Some couples fall instantly in love when they casually date and decide from then on to be exclusive. But not everyone is like that. We suggest you take your time before you rush into a relationship. 

Actually, get to know the person. Sure, you don’t want to be alone, but if you’re choosing partners out of loneliness, then you’re going to be lonely.

3. Be honest to yourself about the red flags

Sometimes we choose not to see all the sides of a person we’re interested in. Most people have made that mistake plenty of times, but you need to make evaluations about your potential partner. 

Is this someone who’s right for you or is this someone who’s for right now? There’s a big difference between the two. [Read: 34 really big relationship red flags most people completely ignore early on]

4. Can you picture the future? 

When you think about you being together, can you actually see it? What would an exclusive relationship look like with them? Is it something you can see yourself being in?

It may sound lame, but if you can’t picture yourself with them in the future, then why bother becoming exclusive.

5. Put yourself first

This may sound selfish, but it’s not. When you’re thinking about the relationship, ask yourself if your needs are being met. Now, not all your needs will be met, that’s just life. But are the deal breakers manageable? 

For example, if you don’t want to have kids, and they do, that’s going to be a big problem. So, you need to decide what’s good for you. [Read: 17 relationship deal breakers you need to fix if you want to be a good partner]

6. Bring it up lightly

If you’re confused over how long should you casually date someone, talk about it with them to understand their perspective.

This doesn’t have to be some serious conversation. If you’re feeling the time is right, why not bring it up in a light way? 

If they’re not open to talking about it, you don’t need to pressure them. Back off and give them some time to think it through. If they don’t bring it up, then it’s safe to say they just want to casually date you and have no intentions of making it serious.

7. Talk to them

But have a real talk with them. If this is something important to you, you need to treat it seriously. If you’re casually dating them, what are their thoughts about the relationship? What are they thinking about you? There are two people in the relationship, and you need to know where they stand. [Read: Are we in a relationship? How to know for sure if you’re a couple or not]

8. Be honest with them

If you want them to be honest with you, meet them halfway. Be clear and direct.

Don’t try to beat around the bush. They need to know how you feel about them. If you act anxiously and without confidence, it’ll make them think you’re not entirely sure what you’re talking about.

9. Leave your phone

Don’t be the person who talks about this while staring at their phone the entire time. They’re not going to take you seriously if you act like that. 

Put your phone away and give your attention to them. Go somewhere you won’t feel enticed to look at your phone. Grab a drink together, go for a walk, etc. [Read: The talking stage – What is it and how to progress to the next one]

10. Stick to what you told yourself

If you’ve decided to end the relationship if they don’t want the same things as you, then you need to stick to your decision. 

Sure, they may tell you to stick around, but if you want something more and they don’t, you’re only going to get hurt. Keep to your standards and don’t change your needs.

11. Let them talk

Yes, you’ve approached them and spilled your guts, but now it’s time for them to talk to you. Who knows what they’re going to say.

Maybe they’re in love with you and want a serious relationship. 

But there’s always the chance that they don’t. Regardless, you need to let them speak their mind. [Read: Relationship of convenience – What is it and why people get into them]

12. Don’t get upset

If they don’t want the same things as you, don’t get upset. Not all relationships are meant to turn into something serious, and that’s perfectly fine. You need to accept they want different things than you and move on. 

Don’t be angry at them or resent that they’re happy to casually date while you want to settle down with them. You did what you needed to do to forward in your life. [Read: 20 signs you’re wasting time in a one-sided relationship]

13. Think about your compatibility

Sure, you might be really excited about moving from a casual relationship to a serious one. But, don’t let your enthusiasm let you overlook whether or not the two of you are compatible in the long run. 

You probably get along well right now, but do you think that you have compatible goals, values, and world views? Do you have similar religions and political outlooks? Are you both looking for the same thing, such as marriage and children someday? 

These are really important questions you need to ask yourself – and your partner – in order to be realistic about whether you should get serious or not.

Hookups and casual dates are easy, but a real relationship takes a lot more effort, compatibility, and communication to succeed. [Read: 50 relationship questions to test your true compatibility instantly]

14. Evaluate the pros and cons

It might seem like a great idea to jump into commitment, but have you considered the pros and the cons? On the pro side, you enjoy the person’s company, and you would have constant companionship. And even more regular sex.

But on the con side, are you ready to give up the single life? Being in a relationship is great, but you can’t be as selfish. You have to compromise when you are committed to another person. Is that what you really want? [Read: How to have a casual relationship without getting hurt or betrayed]

15. What are your real motives?

What is really driving your desire to be with this person in a committed relationship? Is it that you are crazy about them and can’t imagine them not being in your life? That’s a good reason if that’s true.

But maybe you just don’t want to be alone, and having “someone” is better than having no one. This is not a good reason. You should never enter into a relationship merely because you don’t like being lonely. [Read: Do you want a partner or are you just feeling extra lonely?]

16. Celebrate! 

If your partner has told you they want to be exclusive, that’s great!

This is a time to celebrate. Now, you don’t have to go crazy and go wild with your social media updates! We were more hinting towards we-are-now-exclusive sex. But, ordering take-in is also a great way to celebrate the good news.

Nothing’s changed just yet, take it slow and ease into the new relationship status instead of itching to spread the word to the world. You still have time to do that!

[Read: The grey area dilemma: Dating exclusively but not in a relationship]

There’s no timeline when it comes to knowing how long should you casually date someone. Whatever you and your partner feel comfortable doing, then do it. Just make sure you communicate with each other.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...