Casual Relationships: An In-Depth Summary of Casual Dating

  • Post By Hema
  • |
  • Aug 25, 2020

What is casual dating? 

Casual dating or a casual relationship is a romantic and sexual relationship between two people minus the commitment. People who casually date aren’t exclusive to one person and like to keep their options open. A casual relationship is also known as a “no strings attached” relationship. Sometimes, people in casual dating relationships can become serious and take the relationship to another level by committing to each other.

People can confuse casual dating with hooking up. Although they have similar functionality, they have vast differences. Hooking up means a physical relationship without involving emotions, whereas casual dating’s meaning is a little complex.  Casual dating means dating a person without being all-exclusive to him or her. Most young adults either go for a hook-up or casual dating when they don’t want to get involved with someone emotionally. 

What is the difference between casual and serious relationships?

Casual dating

Not everyone defines casual dating in the same way. Some treat casual dating as just a friend with benefits situation; some think of it as a stepping stone for a more serious relationship, and others date while keeping their options open. Casual relationships apply to people who –

  • Are commitment phobic
  • Doesn’t want to label a relationship
  • Doesn’t have time for being in a committed relationship
  • Wants something more than a hook-up but less than a long-term thing
  • Wants to try and see where the connection goes


Serious relationship

A serious relationship differs by two people committing to a monogamous relationship and preferring to stay that way. A serious relationship involves romantic and physical attachment with only one partner. They don’t date multiple people at a time like casual ones. Serious relationships apply to people who – 

  • Wants a stable emotional attachment
  • Wants a commitment in a relationship
  • Looking for a long-term partnership
  • Doesn’t just want a hook-up


Is casual dating and polyamory the same thing?

No, it isn’t. The basis of casual dating starts from being non-committing, so whatever you do while dating one or multiple people, your feelings don’t get involved. Casual dating becomes serious dating if emotions get involved and if two people agree to take it further and be exclusive to each other. On the other hand, polyamorous relationships let you have a serious partner even if you practice polyamory. Many polyamorous people can maintain a committed relationship with a primary partner and seek other casual sex or romantic partners. In a way, polyamory can involve both serious and casual relationships and not the other way around.


Sex and casual dating

Although casual dating includes sex, that doesn’t mean sex in such a relationship is mandatory. If you are looking for a sexual relationship minus the emotional bonding, you should look for hook-ups or friends with benefits type situations. Unlike FWB and hook-up situations, casual dating has some boundaries. For example:

  • There are actual dates involved that aren’t disguised as hangouts or chilling etc.
  • Texting or calling is required in the relationship situation
  • Enjoying time without being sexual
  • Make plans together
  • Including sexual activities like an average couple


When you casually date someone, you actually go on a date with them. Casual date and casual sex aren’t the same where you just get to wham-bam-thank you, ma’am! Although there are no commitments involved, casual dates do require a little bit of effort. One can either choose to date multiple people or just prefer being with one and take it slowly. Texting and calling in casual relationships are not mandatory but are quite important. Like a general couple, you go to dates, have fun together, etc. You can choose to have sex or no sex, that’s your call. 


To whom is casual dating aimed for?

Casual dating is an airy version of serious dating. Not everyone is comfortable with dating. There could be plenty of reasons why you wouldn’t want to date someone seriously. For example, you have experienced a break-up, might have commitment issues, struggle with emotional and physical intimacy, and fear getting rejected. You don’t just feel it’s the right time for you to date; you suffered from abuses or experienced toxic relationships, fear rejection, etc. Imagine these scenarios:

Scenario 1:You really like someone but aren’t thinking about them seriously for some reason. But a part of you is curious to find out what the person is like or are just curious as to what will happen next. In this case, hooking up with them will only ruin things between you two. So, you consider a dating arrangement where you could get all the benefits of dating someone without getting seriously involved. You want to explore the relationship. If you both end up catching feelings for each other, you make it exclusive.

Scenario 2: Someone approached you and asked you on a date. The person isn’t your type, but they are lovely; hence you couldn’t refuse. Sounds familiar? You keep things casual and see where it leads you both. This way, you get to date them, but you also keep your options open.

Word of caution while considering any of these scenarios is that if you don’t want to date them seriously or want to continue seeing other people beside them, it’s best to let them know that you are only considering a casual date and nothing serious. That way, it wouldn’t be disrespectful for them or hurt their feelings.

Some tips for casual dating

There are no rules of casual dating, but every relationship has specific concerns and boundaries. There are a few things that you should do and don’t do, which will demonstrate below.

Be honest

Honesty is required for every relationship. Before jumping on to the casual dating world, you need to be frank with your partner/partners about what you seek out of the relationship. Ask what they prefer. Are they willing to venture into casual dating with you? Will you be just dating, or are you willing to put some effort? These are a few questions you need to ask the parties before you start the journey. If you don’t open up before the very start of the relationship, you could lead your partner on. And this would be rather unpleasant for both of you. Also, just because you don’t want a serious relationship doesn’t imply that your partner wouldn’t, so don’t pressure them to go on a casual date with you unless they don’t feel for it. 


Respect boundaries

That’s pretty obvious! While dating, people don’t blurt out too many things. It’s understandable that you are excited but refrain from using too many questions or prying into personal life. If they are willing to share, they will eventually do so. Ask them before asking any personal questions. It applies for you as well; if you think your date is asking way too many questions and trying to let you spill the beans, tell them off. But politely do so not to hurt their feelings. Everyone should have personal boundaries that others shouldn’t cross. 


Treat your dates like humans

Just because it’s an open relationship and you get to call it off whenever you want doesn’t give you the right to dump a date without having a word. In plain terms, it is known as ghosting. Cowards ghost, so have some self-respect and don’t ghost. Explain to your date why it’s not going to work. Tell them exactly what made you uncomfortable with the arrangement. Don’t sugarcoat with stuff like “It’s not you, it’s me!”. Nobody believes that crap! Instead, meet them up and talk to them like a normal person. Make them feel like humans and not ghosts. If you can’t bring yourself to do this, call them and talk to them. Others might suggest texting them, but texting is a cheap way of communication, in my opinion. It doesn’t sound personal or urgent. You might come off as a prick who can’t even talk like a human to the dumpee.


Don’t get your feelings involved

With casual dating, jealousy shouldn’t be a concern because often in such a type of relationship, feelings don’t surface between people. But if it did in your case, then it’s high time you consider your casual relationship with the person. If you are the one you are having bouts of jealousy, talk to your partner. If you see hints of jealousy in your partner, talk to them without pointing fingers. Either way, you and your partner need to vocalize what you are going through. If you have feelings for each other, see if both of you want to take it to the next level. If it’s not reciprocated, then the best thing to do is part ways.


Is it for everyone?

Casual dating isn’t for everyone. Emotional people should stay away from casually dating others. This creates added stress in life. According to research on undergraduate students in the US, students who chose hook-ups and casual dating due to peer pressure suffered from lower self-esteem, higher depression, and anxiety. On the other hand, participants who didn’t hook up or date casually were as happy as the others who did it with consent. Sometimes there are ethical and moral issues involved in casual dating and hooking up. For example, your morality doesn’t let you have casual relationships, but you are still forcing yourself. This wouldn’t end in good terms because you are pushing yourself to do something you don’t want. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with not wanting casual relationships. Don’t let your pals coerce you into doing it just because it looks cool. The definition of cool is different for different people.

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