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What Is Casual Dating? And How to Know If You Can Handle It

Dating is such a broad term that covers everything from the first date to the last. But, what is casual dating? And is it right for you?

what is casual dating

Casual dating is not for everyone. But, some people thrive in that situation. Before you can decide if it is right for you, it is best to answer the question, what is casual dating?

Essentially, casual dating is regular dating but without commitment. It can include being involved sexually or not, but it often lacks the pressure or responsibility of a more serious relationship.

This is a dream for some but a nightmare for others. Some people thrive on the stability and security of a committed relationship, while others prefer the freedom and fun of something casual. Which one of those are you?

[Read: Are you sure about what you want from a relationship?]

How is casual dating different from dating?

For some, casual dating may sound like ordinary dating. But that depends on what dating is to you.

When you date someone, are you monogamous? Are you building a bond or having fun when you’re dating? What is the focus or the endgame for you? Do you even have one?

If you want to settle down, get married, and have kids sometime in the near future, casual dating may be the furthest thing from your mind. But, if you like traveling and seeing someone just for the moment or for some fun, it is right up your alley.

Casual dating removes the questions from the situation in a way. It requires a certain level of lightness. It is about playing the field and enjoying your time with this person or people and not worrying about the heavier aspects of dating.

If you need answers and need to know where you stand or what your dating label is, casual dating probably isn’t your vibe as its whole purpose is no drama or real emotional investment. You’re having a good time with another person, and that’s all there is to it.

This does not mean trust goes out the window or that there is a lack of respect. Rather, casual dating can only work if both parties agree they both want the same things. [Read: 15 reasons why casual dating is the best ever]

What is casual dating?

Casual dating is when you date someone, but you make no future commitments of any kind to them. You can date them, you can date someone else at the same time, or you can call it off when you feel like you’re losing interest in it. As long as the person you’re dating is aware that you’re only in it for a casual relationship, there are no rigid rules nor is there any talk of the future.

Of course, different people associate different meanings to the term casual dating, but what we’ve described above is more or less the accepted definition of the majority.

If you are thinking about casually dating instead of more traditional dating, you need to figure out what it means to you and how it would work.

Some people are happy with casual dating. They don’t usually require emotional conversations. You don’t have to know if things are moving forward or worry if the person you are seeing is seeing anyone else.

But that may be too hard for you if you’re used to monogamy. You may be interested in casual dating but still want more intimacy and connection. You may want to know if the person you are sharing time or sex with is also doing that with others. It doesn’t have to change anything, but that knowledge is important to some.

Will you only share what is necessary with someone you’re seeing, or will you connect on other levels and still be able to compartmentalize your feelings?

So, what is casual dating to you? [Read: How to date casually without getting attached]

Is a casual relationship the same as a no strings attached relationship?

On a dating spectrum, a no strings attached or a friends with benefits relationship is on one end of the spectrum, while a committed and exclusive relationship is out there on the other end.

In a no-strings-attached relationship, you only meet each other to have sex with each other, you have no other conversations beyond sexual intimacy, you don’t date and you definitely don’t indulge in pillow talk or cuddle after sex. [Read: What does friends with benefits really mean to a guy?]

On the other hand, in a casual relationship, you may spend time with each other, hang out often, go out on dates, and spend time together as a romantic couple too. BUT you or your partner could also be doing the same things with other people.

While a no strings attached relationship or friends with benefits is strictly about sex, a casual relationship has all the perks of a relationship, without the commitment, the exclusivity, or the long term planning of a real exclusive relationship. [Read: Exclusive dating or a casual fling – The 14 big signs that tell them apart]

Is casual dating right for you?

Hopefully, you have figured out what casual dating means to you. But, is it right for you? Is it something you could be happy and comfortable with? Do you want to start dating but aren’t ready for a full-on commitment?

Answering the following questions may help you answer this one.

1. Can you date more than one person at a time?

Although this is not a requirement of casual dating, it can make things easier. When you are having fun with more than one person, you may be less likely to build an emotional connection that can take things into more serious territory.

Do you think this is something you can do? Some people love the idea of non-exclusivity and enjoy dating multiple people at once. And there are others who are all about monogamy and can’t deal with the stress of dating someone who may be sleeping with someone else. [Read: Why dating multiple people is actually really healthy]

2. Can you let go of jealousy?

This is a big one. And this is the one most people seem to have a problem with. Casual dating does not work when jealousy is involved.

If you know you are a jealous person and cannot let go of the idea that the person you’re dating may be dating someone else, casual dating is not for you. If you cannot deal with someone you see also seeing someone else, you may need to reevaluate what you want from your dating life.

3. Can you let go of your standards?

Casual dating includes dating around. You might go on a few dates and not like someone, but you don’t need to connect on every level. You aren’t looking for a life partner, just someone to have fun with.

If you have different religious or political views, you can still have fun. Try to let go of standards that may have ingrained themselves into your psyche. They are not always useful when it comes to casual dating.

4. Can you be brutally honest?

This sounds tough, but honesty is key when you are casually dating. You need to be completely transparent about the situation. For this to work, both of you need to be on the same page. One of you can’t want something more serious while the other is happy with the current situation.

You have to be on the same page for it to work. You can’t casually date someone hoping they’d change their mind in future and start dating you exclusively. While that is possible, there is a bigger chance of heartbreak than true love waiting in your future. [Read: How to get someone to stop dating others casually and get exclusive only with you]

5. Can you set boundaries?

It sounds contradictory, but casual dating needs boundaries to work. Yes, there is a sort of rules that need to be followed. These are not one size fits all, though. You and whomever you are seeing need to set boundaries.

You need to decide if you are going to be friends. Decide if you are going to talk about your lives. You need to decide if you are going to go on dates or just hook up in private. Will you cuddle? Will you see each other’s friends? [Read: How to have a real casual relationship without getting hurt]

6. Can you keep things discreet?

Casual dating is an alternative to traditional dating, which can often be consumed by drama. The attractiveness of this is the lack of drama. But, if you thrive on drama, casual dating won’t work for you.

Being able to keep things relatively private is what makes it work. When other *friends or family* weigh in on your casual relationship, things get complicated. You second guess yourself. Are you capable of keeping things on the DL?

7. Can you be sure to check-in?

Although casual dating is a great idea, it can often get messy if not maintained properly. Say you have been casually dating someone for a few weeks, and it is going great. Be sure to check in with each other to make sure you are still on the same page.

If one of you is catching feelings or moving forward with someone else, you need to fill each other in. Think about it as a work evaluation. Without this, you will continue making potential mistakes without realizing them. [Read: How to date casually without getting hurt – The 15 hurt-free rules you MUST follow]

8. Can you live in the present?

Casual dating is all about living in the present. If you focus too much on your past or the future, things get heavy. Enjoying the moment you are in is what this is all about.

Serious dating thrives on plans and commitment, but casual dating feeds on the fun.

9. Can you release expectations?

Try not to depend on a casual relationship to fill a void in your life. Sure, you should respect each other, but casual dating does not come with the same level of dependency on a serious relationship. You should not be bringing your casual lover to a family wedding.

You should not expect them to help you build IKEA furniture or pick you up from the airport. Expecting these things from someone you are casually dating is a surefire way to make things no longer casual. [Read: Casual dating rules that can make or break your casual relationship]

10. Can you keep it spontaneous?

When it comes to casual dating, you don’t want to make too many plans. When you start penciling someone into your future, things get serious. Are you able to make plans for tonight or tomorrow and not look too far ahead?

Being tied to plans that take place more than a few days away can build up nerves and feelings. If you can keep things light and breezy, you have a better chance of being successful with casual dating.

11. Can you keep your distance?

Whether you are a casual dater or not, it can be hard to shut down your feelings. Even if you don’t have romantic feelings for this person and are just having sex and watching movies, you bond with someone when you spend time with them. Can you compartmentalize those emotions, so your humanity doesn’t turn into romantic feelings?

If they are sick, will you want to take care of them? Will you want to bring them soup? If you can shut that down, casual dating is more likely to work out for you. [Read: How long should you casually date someone before it gets serious]

12. Can you not talk?

Having sex with someone can bring up emotions you didn’t want or expect. Can you make sure your bonding stays in the bedroom? Can you be okay with not talking about their other dates or partners?

It may even be a good idea not to follow each other social media to avoid any jealousy or fantasies about dating more seriously.

13. Can you end it cleanly?

Casual dating cannot go on forever. One person will want to move on at some point. Another benefit of casually dating is that the breakup, so to speak, should be clean and mutual.

You should be able to cut things off without feelings of getting hurt or any fighting. Being afraid to end things is normal, but when you both went in knowing this was casual and temporary, you should be able to end it without drama.

[Read: How to not get attached to a guy – 15 easy ways to cut off all kinds of romantic feelings]

So, what is casual dating to you? Is it something you can see yourself enjoying? Or are you looking for something more traditional?

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