Whats a casual relationship

Whether you call a casual relationship with a guy “friends with benefits” or something “special and magical”, one thing’s for sure.

It’s a BIG RISK.

And depending on whether you’re naïve or a little jaded, this relationship is either going to be really awful or really good. What I want to do in this article is take an objective look at what FWB means.

It’s true that a lot of dating coaches will tell you to Just Say No to Friends with Benefits – because it’s a dead end. But on the other hand, I can also think of a few situations in which casual is BETTER than serious.

Let’s first discuss what casual sex means to a man.


1. It means attraction. It means scratching an itch. That’s all.

And that’s pretty much the truth of it. Now is it possible that a casual sex relationship could evolve into something serious? Well anything’s possible…it’s possible you might end up dating NBA star Shaq. But is it likely?

Based on an article from Thought Catalog, here are some of the reasons why some men prefer Friends with Benefits.

• Because they’re too busy to mess with a real relationship
• Because they don’t seem themselves here (in this location and this life) for the long-term
• Because they’re not happy with where they’re at and sex is like drinking, it’s a nice distraction
• Because they are single dads and their children are their ONLY priority
• Because they’re rebounding from a serious relationship
• They’re kind of sort of cheating with you(!)
• They’ve been hurt too much and just want no brainer sex and romance with no chance of entanglement
• Laziness
• They don’t want to be monogamous as a lifestyle

In other words, men are aware that “serious relationships” are a lot of work and very often have unhappy endings. So you could say in most of these cases, they are protecting themselves…protecting their feelings and their heart.

Of course, your natural instinct may be to help them heal and rekindle the romantic and idealistic love they once felt for somebody. But is this realistic?

2. Casual sex to a man means that you voluntarily took yourself OUT of the serious relationship category.

This is the part that hurts. Men who are dating casually may very well be interested in finding love…but it’s very rarely with you. It’s true that a lot of movies and books depict FWB relationships that blossom into love. But in the real world it’s rare.

This is because guys usually do not see casual sex relationships as emotional connections. Usually, these couplings involve sexual attraction, flirting and hopping into bed quickly. But what this pattern is missing is the emotional and intellectual bonding. By sleeping with a guy too soon, you are basically telling him, “Who you are doesn’t really matter to me…I just want the pretty face.”

It’s hard to imagine a man being interested in a woman after that kind of dynamic is exchanged. And though you may not come out and actually say those words, that’s what he feels. If you don’t bother bonding with him or getting to know him, you’re telling him that only the sex interests you.

But what about the scenario of giving him the sex he craves and THEN bonding with him in the afterglow? Does that ever work?

3. Men who sleep around casually don’t consider the afterglow as bonding – it’s a bonus.

I know this part is confusing because doesn’t a man acting all romantic and sweet towards you count for something? Once again, if all you did was flirt and have sex, then the answer is probably NO.

You bond in conversation. You bond when you talk about things close to your heart, when you share memories and opinions. In the “afterglow” stage you may experience very lovey-dovey feelings…and the oxytocin drug rush is indeed powerful.

But if there’s no emotional connection, PRE-EXISTING to sex, then it’s just a rush. It’s just a good feeling. It’s like drinking absinthe. Sorry to be crude but I do think it’s important for a woman to understand the risk of the FWB relationship. It may not work out. And you may be left heartbroken and confused, when you find out he’s met someone else that he really likes.

But what if you talk about really deep things after sex? What then?

4. Men are always comparing the women they date. Are you better than all his other opportunities?

It may be human nature to compare all the people we’re dating, regardless of gender. A man’s ultimate goal is to answer the question: of all the women I’m dating who would make me the happiest? Who would I be most interested in for the long-term?

This is where positive associations come in. It is theoretically possible that a guy could fall in love with in a casual relationship – but in order for that to happen, you would have to talk about deep emotional experiences, the things you have in common, the things that he wants in life.

It is a good sign if a man actually remembers things that you share about yourself, and that he confides in you private thoughts and “secrets” that he trusts you with.

But you have to ask yourself, “Since I’m giving him sex for free, what incentive does he have to choose me above everyone else?”

This is why women who are serious about nabbing a boyfriend and not an F-buddy usually have sex and then back off, letting him know that she is NOT going to be his casual buddy. If he really wants her, he has to invest more time in her…in romance…in emotional connection.

So is it impossible to transform a casual guy into a steady boyfriend? No, but it’s definitely a very volatile relationship that you can’t take too “casually” either.

The 5 Word Phrase That Destroys a Man’s Love For You And Drives Him Out Of Your Life

There’s a simple 5 word phrase that will destroy any man’s love for you and drive him out of your life completely…

It usually comes out as an honest question when you want to connect with him…

But only serves to push him away and slowly kill your relationship from the inside out…

It can take a man who is filled with love and passion for you…

And make him feel cold, distant, and uninterested…

Have you figured out what it is yet?

Many women send this as a text message when they’re feeling insecure…

And then are confused why he suddenly pulls away and disappears completely…

Most of the women who ask it don’t even know how harmful it is…

Yet it can take a relationship that seems like it’s perfect…

A relationship where you feel loved, cared for, and like you’ve finally found “the one”…

And overnight, it can tear that relationship apart…

Leaving you confused, frustrated, and heartbroken…

If you don’t know what this simple yet seemingly innocent question is…

I want you to stop what you’re doing and go watch this video presentation that I put together for you at the link below…

My name is Matthew Coast and I’ve been teaching in the dating industry on since 2005…

I’ve helped hundreds of thousands of women, all over the world…

Get into relationships where they feel loved, seen, and cherished by the men they’re with…

I show you what this 5 word phrase is…

I’ll teach you about why men pull away, how to stop it from happening…

And how to attract the man you want…

Into a relationship where you’re loved and adored and treated like a priority…

No matter how painful things have been in your past…

You can attract a great man and have a great relationship…

Just click the link on your screen and the watch the video right now…

If you’re struggling with men pulling away from you…

If you’re tired of giving everything to a relationship and only being taken for granted…

And if you’re ready to have a man see you as a woman that he wants to be with forever…

Do Not Pursue A “We’re Just Casual” Relationship Until You Read These Rules

Casual relationships are kind of the norm these days, and if you’re single and dating it’s likely you’ve experienced a few.

They can be fun as hell, but they can also be the source of every goddamn insecurity, irritation, terrible day and anxiety-fuelled group chat psych session.

The reason casual relationships can go to shit so easily and turn into a headache rather than a fun and sexy fling comes down to rules. You need rules to make one work, and as someone who has tried navigating several casual relationships, I feel like I’ve learned (usually the hard way bc I am a clown) what these rules inherently are.

1. No One Should Be Lying To Themselves

First rule of casual relationships – absolutely do not lie to yourself. If you want a proper dating relationship with this person, you need to be upfront about that and NO, casual things do not turn into dating things most of the time. Remember He’s Just Not Into You, and then at the end the unhinged lady ends up with the douchey guy bc “she’s the exception”. NO! NOT REAL! LIES!

Yes yes, sometimes there are stories of casual flings turning serious but those situations almost always involve BOTH parties going into it with a casual mindset, then BOTH realising there’s more to it. Not one person being deeply in love with the other but saying they’re down for casual because it’s all they can get.

Don’t lie to yourself – if you like them on a deeper level, don’t get into something casual because you’ll end up crying all the time in the toot, and that’s not a vibe.

2. Be Clear About What You Need

What does “casual relationship” mean to you? For some, it’s hooking up at 2am when you’re both drunk sometimes. For others, it’s all the benefits of a real relationship (hanging out, spooning, bitching about work) without the pressure of it being real.

You need to figure out what you need from your casual relationship before you get it underway, otherwise it just puts you through the ringer. For example, I was once in a casual thing where I kinda expected to see the person like, a couple of times a week for hook ups and hang outs. But instead the person just hit me up on occasional Saturday nights for sex. Fine if that’s what I wanted but it wasn’t.

Once you know what you want, either go with the flow but bail out if the other party seems to have different ideas, or bring up what’s bothering you. Wanna hang out not just fuck? Say so. Wanna just fuck and never hang out? Say so. Communication is key here!

3. If You Catch Feelings, Bring It Up

Never ever ever ever ever keep rolling with a casual relationship if you catch real feelings! At least, if this happens, bring it up and put the option of dating on the table. If the other party is like aw, no thanks beb – bail out!

I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve kept sleeping with someone who sees me as just a mate they bone, when I see them as the love of my life. Pisces energy up here baby, but it’s BAD! Like I said, these things rarely turn serious and they especially won’t if the other party already told you yeah, nah.

I know it’s easier said than done but if the feelings become one-sided, you’ll be much better off if you just cut it.

4. There’s No Room For Jealousy In Casual Relationships

Sorry, but a casual relationship has NO room for being pissy because you see the other person flirting at a party. If you’re feeling miffed by their display of interest in another human being, ask yourself if it’s because you like them for real, then scroll back up to #3.

Sometimes we feel jealous because we just want exclusivity in our casual relationship. That can be ok, if both parties agree to it. I’ve been in casual things where it’s also exclusive, but I have also found that the REASON I wanted to be exclusive was… because I actually liked the guy. So.

5. Don’t Start Divulging Your Traumas & So On

Casual relationships are NOT the same as proper dating ones. That means top line! Look, this isn’t a hard and fast rule because some casual flings are between friends, or whatever. But in my experience as soon as I start revealing all my life problems to my fuck buddy, I start falling for them.

In general, you want this thing to be a mutual “using” thing – you’re both using each other for sex/companionship, nothing more. Keep your deep dives on your abandonment issues for your best mates and psychologist – advice I could have used like two years ago tbh.

6. Don’t Be A Piece Of Shit

Being casual doesn’t mean you get to not respect the other person – they are a human being and just because you’ve both decided not to officially date, doesn’t mean respect isn’t deserved.

This means – don’t talk about other people you’re hooking up with, don’t criticise their body or sexual prowess unless asked (and even then, be NICE about it), don’t organise a casual hang at 8pm and then get caught up at drinks with your girls and leave them hanging.

Most of all, if you want to end the casual fling – be honest and tell them instead of just yeeting out of there and never responding to a text again. V. rude, do not condone.

Image: The Bold Type

What exactly is a casual relationship?

What exactly is a casual relationship?

So, in my opinion, the term “casual” is supposed to be open to interpretation, much like a casual relationship is. It can mean a plethora of things, but generally the term casual is used to refer to something that’s low-commitment and freer of expectations than a monogamous relationship. I think when defining a “casual” relationship with a partner, it is important to clarify expectations in order to avoid misunderstandings that can breed resentment. For some people, casual may mean that you have multiple partners, for others it can mean a “friends with benefits” type of situation. All relationships are different, and they vary based on the people in them and their expectations going into the relationship. Make sure that your expectations with someone align before defining something as “casual” or “serious,” that way you won’t have to ask the “so… what are we” question that everyone lowkey dreads.


Hi there! Let me just start off by saying that your question can have many different answers depending on who you ask…Therefore I find it best to disclose any biases I have before I give you an answer.I’m a college-age female who tends to have a slight bias against “casual” relationships, just because I’ve seen friends and peers have their feelings hurt because of so-called “casual relationships.” I view casual relationships as relationships in which one (or more) party has no interest in defining the extent of the relationship and is happy in going on dates/“hooking up” when they please. I believe that casual relationships ultimately have more “freedom” but less security. However, I also believe that casual relationships can be beneficial if you’re just entering the dating pool or you’re not ready for a serious commitment. I hope that helps!


Hello! This question is definitely one of the more complicated ones. More and more people are having casual relationships nowadays, but there are still a ton of talk around what the relationship actually entails. I was/currently in a casual relationship myself. From what I am experiencing, a casual relationship is one that involves two individuals that are physically attracted to each other but neither wants to be labeled as each other’s significant other. There is no emotional attachment or expectations attached to this type of relationship. Honestly, it’s a really grey area. It’s the type of relationship where you spend time with this person because you enjoy their comfort, presence, and physical well-being. However, this CAN get messy. One person might start to develop emotions because of the amount of time spent together, but remember that the two of you are not actually in a relationship. He or she can choose to stop being more than friends whenever they want. The easiest way I can put it is: a casual relationship is one that involves casual sex (with no feelings attached) or a near-sexual relationship without the typical commitments that tag along with being in a relationship. Oh! There’s also little to no romance involved. This type of relationship requires a tremendous amount of communication to ensure that both parties are content and respected. I hope this clarified things a little!


So, you’ve decided to start dating. But instead of diving headlong into a committed monogamous partnership—or one of those polyamorous ones that’s really more about booty-calling whoever’s around—you’re going to date casually. Which is to say, an ongoing but uncommitted relationship wherein the parties involved actively choose a lower-stakes relationship. The caveat is that neither party is entitled to substantial emotional support or exclusivity from the other.

This is great for people who are terrible at long-term things or just not ready for a new one. If you’ve too recently been in a relationship that lasted long and ended amicably enough that you still go fishing with your ex’s brother—or keep forgetting that farting audibly in front of a date is unacceptable—this is probably a good way to test the water and get back out there. It’s best not to jump into anything serious too quickly after the kind of devastation that leaves you that gassy afterwards, anyways. But now that you’re considering dating again (sort of), let’s figure out how to do so tactfully, shall we? The thing is, lots of people think “dating casually” and its inherent lack of a commitment means they can be psychopathically insensitive to the feelings of others (woo!). This is not a good look. Don’t do it.


The reason that casual dating is so hard for many people is because, well, isn’t the whole point of first, second, or third dates that they’re casual? Generally, there are two types of casual daters: Those who are potentially interested in something more but open to going with the flow at the start, and those who aren’t looking for anything past what you’re doing right now. The former might fuck up by assuming that “casual” means “easily disposable,” while the latter could fuck up by failing to communicate that they really, truly, don’t want anything serious.

Sometimes, the latter are commitment phobic or delusional. (No, Scarlett Johannson is not just moments away from coming to her senses and dating you. Yes, you should consider dating the perfectly lovely social-media manager in tasteful separates.) Other times, they are just clueless about what this entails. For how simple it should be, there are many ways to accidentally fuck up this process and blow your chance at more blow jobs or, even worse, realize too late that she was Your Person. Luckily for you, the more egregious mistakes mostly fall into three major categories that I‘ll discuss below. Don’t worry: If it doesn’t work out after all that, we’ll get to how to end casual relationships without being a pile of sentient diarrhea.

What is “casual dating,” exactly?

In short, casual dating entails going out with, sleeping with, and having a connection to and respect for a person without committing to a relationship with them. Unfortunately, some kind of a bearded serpent in the 1960s decided that labeling things was oppressing them, or something, and it magically became virtuous to not label relationships. (“That’s what squares do!” or some other free-love bullshit.) The hippie that did it was garbage and just didn’t want to have to get business cards. Labeling things is fine, even if the label is just “casual.” It is okay to want to date casually, but you have to make it clear that, should the person you’re dating want more while you don’t, they’re free to look elsewhere.


I emphasize this because a great deal of casual dating happens when one party is not even privy to the fact that the other wants their situation to stay casual in perpetuity. The offending party manages to prolong the affair by saying things like, “Let’s see where it goes,” when they have no intention of seeing it actually go anywhere beyond where it is. But they’re either afraid of saying so because they think it will hurt the person’s feelings, or afraid that they’ll get dumped once their intentions become obvious.

These are both spineless reasons to not say that you want to be and remain casual. You shouldn’t be casually dating someone without their consent. These numbers aren’t in the Bible or anything, but you should have “the talk” according to any of these three different measures: 1) After at least five dates ended in sex, 2) after dating has been ongoing for eight weeks, or 3) after you’ve had three sleepovers that ended in making breakfast for each other the next morning. (Because that shit is serious, okay?) More importantly, you must always demonstrate that you want things to be casual by not giving off Boyfriend Vibes, which brings me to my next point.


Treat your casual dating partner with respect. Be nice.

The thing that differentiates a casual dating relationship from a formal one is not that you get to shirk all responsibility to communicate like a human being just because things are non-exclusive. This doesn’t mean you have to send your special friend an emoji parade of feelings to their phone all day every day, but you also don’t get to just ignore them either. It’s not a matter of women being needy, it’s that it is so totally fucking easy to just text someone that you’re busy! People who can’t handle simple communication are the same kind of butt blisters who ignore texts for hours or days and yet will call upon the woman he is casually dating in a time of emotional distress. But it is unfair to treat a woman with less courtesy than you do your regular friends, only to rely on her during an illness in the family or a moment of professional uncertainty. Seeking women’s emotional intimacy and support while not committing to other basic courtesies sends mixed signals about your level of care for her.


“But what if I just want her support as a friend?” someone might ask, incredulous. First of all, once you start dickin’ her, you forfeit a lot of the benefits of friendship. Sorry, I don’t make the rules, I am just the shrill messenger here to remind you that your dick got in the way of your friendship. Secondly, that is what regular friends are for!

Casual dating is not the same as a booty call.

I am a card-carrying member of the “U up?” club: the kind of person who likes to send text messages at all unholy hours summoning men to my chambers for all the joys of carnal knowledge without having to do annoying things like put on pants or venture outside. But a booty call must be for the purpose of sex and sex only. There can be uproarious laughter and merrymaking, but it needs to be devoid of any sort of romantic dimension. I was recently made aware of some sort of deranged lunatic who invited his booty call over to sit by a fire late at night and only then proceed to bang. Like, was there a bearskin rug, too? A rose between his teeth? Honestly, I hope she went if only to push him into the fire for cavalierly mixing cheeseball romantic moves with the pure and unadulterated joy of uncommitted time in each other’s bone zones.


Casual dating is not just casual fucking. It can turn into that, sure, but you can’t just bait and switch. So when you’re casually dating someone, don’t treat her like a booty call that just happens to come over during the day and go out with you sometimes. If you invite her over and she isn’t clearly immediately there to get her fuck on, you better be damn ready to sit through at least one installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise before trying to bang her. You can touch her butt when Vin and Michelle are getting all handsy on those Honda Civics to see if she wants to skip the show for indulging in night ways, but if she wants to finish the whole movie, cool your jets!

Even casual relationships have rules on how to end them.

The first rule of ending casual relationships is that you have to end casual relationships. There are too many people that just choose to stop responding to text messages to end things. Those people are weasels that eat trash and wet popcorn and deserve to be set adrift on ice floes and left to the mercies of the deep ocean. Don’t be one of them. Just say, “I had a lot of fun, but I think this has run its course,” or something to that effect that makes clear that you’re done. If you have followed all of the other instructions above and the damsel in question knows that this was always casual, then you don’t really owe each other much beyond the closure of a breakup. Don’t give or ask for detailed explanations of why it didn’t work out; pushing the matter just prolongs the humiliation. This isn’t a huge breakup. This was casual.


If you have been clear about your intentions and kind but non-committal, ending things can and should be simple. So do yourself a favor in advance and don’t pretend you’re casually dating someone just because you want all of the benefits of a relationship without the attendant emotional labor. If you want to be emotionally reliant on someone, you can’t let their texts go unanswered or only call after midnight from a bear-skin rug. You can’t just have your audible farts and eat them, too.

Adequate Man is Deadspin’s new self-improvement blog, dedicated to making you just good enough at everything. Suggestions for future topics are welcome below.


Art by Tara Jacoby.

10 Things I Learned When I Tried Casually Dating

To begin with, casually dating someone is completely different from being in a real relationship. In an actual relationship, you’re truly loving someone, having strong feelings for him, caring for him, never want to let him down, and possibly thinking about the future with him. This is nowhere near what a casual relationship is. When you’re casually dating someone, there is actually a set of rules that you’re supposed to follow. Rules like you can’t fall in love with your partner (probably the biggest rule), you can still date other people when in a casual relationship, it’s mainly about sex, don’t get into each other’s lives too much, and so on. Like I said before, it’s the polar opposite of a real relationship. There are even things we lie about when it comes to casual dating.

And I actually tried casually dating once. While I enjoyed the experienced while it lasted… there’s a ton that I learned throughout the time. I mainly got into a casual relationship because I wasn’t so much feeling lonely, but to see where it would take off. And let me tell you, don’t do it if you know that you’ll fall in love easily. Once you set the rules with your partner, you gotta stick to it. No more further questions. Anyway, here’s what I learned about casually dating someone.

Type doesn’t matter when it’s casual.

Honestly, type doesn’t matter at all when you’re casually dating someone. Since neither of you want it to be something serious, you’re not trying to find your ideal type to play around with, right? If you want a real relationship, go ahead, find your perfect person. But if you’re casually dating someone you know is 100 percent your type… Know what this means?

It means you’ll possibly fall in love with him. And that’s something no one wants in a casual relationship. Since there’s no love happening in this type of dating, you certainly don’t want to casually date your dream man. Be flexible with who you’re picking when casually dating. It’s fine to pick someone who’s somewhat your type. If they’re amazing in bed, then that’s all that matters, right?

Things won’t stay casual if you’re only dating one person.

When you’re casually dating, things won’t stay casual if you’re only dating that one person. What are you doing if you’re only in a casual relationship and nothing more? While your partner is having sex with other people and you’re only having sex with her, you’re not taking advantage of this casual dating thing.

I know someone who only casually dated one person and nothing more. It’s like they’re tied down to that one person and it defeats the purpose of casually dating. Explore other people, get into real relationships with others; you’re not locked down to the one you’re casually dating and that’s certainly not the concept of it. Remember, it’s not casual if you’re not exploring the grounds more.

People aren’t accessories, and some don’t realize it.

This is one of the major things that I learned about casually dating—that people aren’t accessories. This is so important to know, especially when you’re in a casual relationship with someone. That person isn’t your “prize” or your “trophy wife.” In fact, when you’re casually dating someone, it’s something that’s usually not talked about. And there are people out there who literally have their partner around their arm like they’re a bracelet or something.

People who are in casual relationships need to understand that the two partners aren’t in a deep relationship. And even if you’re casually dating someone, this doesn’t mean you can hold them around, showing off that you’re dating this person when you’re really not. Your partner doesn’t have any feelings for you, and that’s what a casual relationship is mainly about.

Communication is key, even in a casual relationship.

In any relationship you’re in, communication still plays a significant role. Those who are in casual relationships look past this, because they believe only real relationships consist of having good communication with your partner. But this is very… very wrong. When casually dating, you want your partner to understand a few things about yourself. What you want to gain out of from sex, not wanting to stay over and cuddle, don’t want anything to do with the other one’s life, and the list goes on.

How else are you and your partner setting rules in the casual relationship? The two of you have to let the other one know what’s needed and not needed. And the only way for the relationship to work out is by letting them know—through communicating!

You’re putting effort in a relationship that isn’t going to work out because you’re lonely.

You’re not supposed to put so much effort in a casual relationship. Since you know so well that it’s not going to work out through the rules that the two of you set, don’t bother putting in so much effort. Especially if you’re lonely, you don’t want your casual partner to be your source of comfort when you need it and he’s not available at the moment, because he’s busy fucking his third partner.

This is the perfect opportunity to go out there and find a real relationship. If you’re still feeling lonely even when casually dating, which is 100 percent normal, find someone who’s willing to take you away from being lonely. Since the relationship is so casual, it’s possible for you to be or still feel lonely, because you’re not receiving any love. Overall, don’t bother putting in a lot of effort to see your casual partner… it’s not going to work out.

Your married friends don’t know everything.

Oh my gosh. Just because your friends are married doesn’t mean they fuckin’ know everything about love and finding a relationship. Honestly, when talking to someone about having a casual relationship, someone who’s married should be the absolute last person on your list. They’re going to tell you shit like, “It’s a waste of time,” “Why would you when you can be in a real relationship,” and everything else in between.

You can’t get advice from someone who’s married. They’re going to tell you that the grass is greener on the other side and real relationships are worth more than casual. If you listen to me, stay away from their words and you do what you believe will make you happy. Fuck married people and their happy relationships.

Since it’s casual, you can be treated harshly.

This is true, just because you and your partner are casually dating, there are chances of him treating you like shit. Since it’s not a real relationship, he can really toy around with you, really take advantage of your presence, and make you feel like you’re being used. This is something that you should certainly avoid, even in a casual relationship.

Never allow someone to bring you down and solely use you for your body. You’re a human being and you have needs, too. In a casual relationship, both partners are supposed to gain something out of it equally. It should never just be one sided. If you feel like you’re not being satisfied at all with your casual relationship and he’s treating you very poorly, I advise you to ditch him at once. Don’t waste your time any further.

You begin to value yourself more.

When you’re casually dating, you certainly start to value yourself a lot more. There are times when people simply get into casual relationships because they’re feeling lonely, trying to get over an ex, or any other reason to date casually. There are people who believe that casual relationships aren’t for them and that they deserve so much more.

You begin to see that you deserve actual love more than the sex you’re getting with no love behind it. Many people feel this way in the midst of casually dating. However, you can still certainly value yourself much more and continue casually dating while dating other people.

Inconsistency in the casual relationship is something some people don’t like.

Casual relationships aren’t consistent at all. In fact, since they’re casual, they’re very inconsistent. While there’s no love behind the relationship, there’s nothing to be gained out of. It’s not a romantic relationship where the two of you are always loving, caring, and communicating with each other.

There are people out there who hate inconsistency—and these are the people who wouldn’t be able to handle casually dating. Since your partner will go out and date other people, this will definitely bother you. Because your partner isn’t tied down to just you, this leaves the relationship to be inconsistent.

Just because they’re not the one doesn’t mean they’re not important to you.

Finally, just because they’re not the person you’re mainly interested in doesn’t mean they’re not important to you. When you’re casually dating someone, they’re still important to you in a certain way. Sure, you don’t love them, but in the end of the relationship, the two of you are going to have some history.

This also means that you shouldn’t treat your casual partner like trash. You were in a casual relationship with this person, which means you do have the slightest care for them. And who knows, the two of you might stay friends in the end… or possibly start an actual relationship together.

Nearly all my friends discouraged me from joining a dating app after my long-term relationship ended last year. I agreed. The last time I’d been single, Tinder hadn’t even launched, and terms like “gaslighting” and “fuccboi” had yet to enter my lingual purview (not that I didn’t witness them in spades).

I was open to going out and meeting people after escaping an exhausting and unhealthy relationship, but I wasn’t exactly eager to jump into dating, and I was nervous that doing so digitally might bring about potentially confusing situations. In other words, I wasn’t ready. I felt embarrassingly out of touch with the culture of dating and was too much of a wuss to make an earnest effort.

But, as some saying goes, romance happens when you’re not actively seeking it.

After two months or so of minding my own business, I bumped into a peripheral acquaintance at a Bushwick bar. When he re-introduced himself to me, I charmingly replied, “Of course I know who you are” — a partial lie, as I don’t think we’d actually exchanged names before. He was scruffily cute and had an indistinct accent that pronounced tomato as tom-ah-to.

The first time we properly kissed was on our third date, and it happened on the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island.

A few days later, I received an Instagram DM from him asking if I’d like to hang out sometime. We exchanged numbers. Our rapport was less flirtatious than it was friendly. It all seemed very light and casual — the free Costco sample of dating, if you will. I didn’t overthink it.

We hung out a handful of times soon after — a museum here, dinner and a movie there…all of it was fine. And then shit got cute fast. The first time we properly kissed was on our third date, and it happened on the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. I may not be a formulaic dater, but I do know that as soon as things start resembling cinema, they are no longer “casual.” (And making out on a Ferris wheel, it should be said, is just as thrilling as The O.C. made it look.)

From that point on, it was the dating show: We held hands, we cooked dinner at each other’s apartment, we slept over regularly on weekends and had leisurely breakfasts the following mornings — he even kept a toothbrush at my place. At one point, a “showtime” performer on the subway presumptuously referred to me as his girlfriend and I glanced at him, mortified, only to see him gently suppressing a smile.

I kept reassuring myself that in the modern age of romance, we were just “hanging out” — it all felt very unfussy and easy. And so when he kept asking to make plans, I just kept saying sure, which is basically how we became a thing.

I liked his face, his wry sense of humor and how he was politely considerate of everyone — not just me. I was thrilled with the way he was direct and appreciative: If he wanted to see me, he’d ask, and he always made sure to let me know he had a great time. By most accounts, this was textbook courtship. But we were both keeping each other at arm’s length emotionally — at least I was, anyway. Even so, I wasn’t immune to the warming effect of intimacy. And even if I told myself I wasn’t “looking,” our lack of status eventually started to grate on me. What do I call this person who I’m very fond of, intimately involved with and happily spending most of my free time with? What were we? Even a definitive “no strings” label seemed more satisfying than none at all.

But the idea of breaching the relationship discussion made me bristle. Even though I was curious, it felt awkwardly undercooked. It felt almost unfair, too, to ask questions I didn’t have my own answers to, like whether we were headed toward a boyfriend-girlfriend type of relationship and whether both of us even wanted that. All my life, I’d dated guys who’d chosen me first, and now I found myself in an unfamiliar stalemate, painted into a dating-but-not-dating corner.

It was when a colleague off-handedly mentioned she had plans to hang out with her boyfriend-who’s-not-really-her-boyfriend that I felt simultaneously relieved I wasn’t the only one experiencing this and aghast it was a thing at all. I became further intrigued: What is this performative pseudo-relationship holding pattern? Is it the perfect embodiment of the age-old jazz question “If you have to ask, you’ll never know”?

I knew I didn’t want to label things prematurely. My worst fear was that one could essentially “play house” in a relationship even if it was devoid of love, like practicing a seance: Just because you’re going through the motions doesn’t mean it’s conjuring anything. I’m all for labels — labels and boundaries and being on the same page are a soothing balm to my antagonistic neuroses surrounding anything relationship-related. But labels do not a truth make, and even if we’d fallen into calling each other girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, significant other or whatever, there’d be no point if both of us didn’t enthusiastically mean it. After enduring a nearly five-year lesson that someone being your “boyfriend” doesn’t mean he’ll treat your feelings with care, this truth felt particularly fresh.

It was as if I’d asked him a deeply personal and embarrassing question at Thanksgiving dinner.

I felt an urgent need to know where he stood, so I broached the subject as elegantly as I could: in a loud bar, completely out of the blue and immediately following a viewing of the movie It.

“Hey, so can I get your opinion on something?”

“Sure, what is it?”

“What are your thoughts…on all this?” I asked, gesturing with my finger between him and me.

It was as if I’d asked him a deeply personal and embarrassing question at Thanksgiving dinner. There was a lot of stammering, pregnant pausing and a general lack of sense-making. I knew he was emotionally intelligent enough to recognize that I’d put myself in a vulnerable position by addressing this elephant in the room, but since I’d done it with the broadest stroke possible, the open-endedness had him quite literally speechless. And if I’m being honest, I purposefully posed the question in what I thought was the least loaded way possible (I am a Cancer; we do not show our cards).

The truth was evident before he even said it: “I hadn’t really given much thought about it, honestly.” Judging by the rattled look on his face, either that was true or I was watching him struggle through a conversation he’d been actively avoiding. Maybe I’d fooled him into thinking I didn’t care. Maybe I’d fooled myself into thinking that.

Ultimately, all I received was the insight that he thinks I’m “totally great” and a lot of feeble nonsequiturs that didn’t make much sense beyond showing me he is wholly unready for me. I was disappointed but also relieved — relieved because at least I knew what we were now, and disappointed because in learning all that, I realized I was more emotionally invested than I’d originally anticipated. At least now you know, I told myself, half-reassured, half-resigned.

I don’t begrudge him any of that at all, though I do wish I’d spoken up sooner when things started feeling more serious than casual. It’s easy to avoid those conversations when you’re having a good time with someone. Perhaps counterintuitively, none of this made me want to stop seeing him, nor him me.

Once I looked past my anxious expectation that things probably needed to be more “substantial” or different from how they actually were, I realized that actually, I was having a ton of fun. A couple of weeks after that conversation, though, he took a long leave of absence to visit family abroad and we gradually fell out of touch. A prolonged 16-hour time difference isn’t quite a Band-Aid rip, but it functioned as one all the same. The newfound solitude gave me a better perspective on everything.

Forcing romantic parameters just because “it makes sense” — given how long it’s been or some other unemotional reason — doesn’t work when both people aren’t enthusiastically choosing one another. And that’s important because I wasn’t choosing him either. I still can’t quite pinpoint exactly why, but maybe it doesn’t matter.

Even if the romantic feelings between us weren’t enough to steer us toward a relationship, that doesn’t have to be the end, either. It’s possible that romance for the sake of romance — and not as a preamble to a relationship — can be really enjoyable in and of itself. It wasn’t what I expected to find upon my first dip into the dating pool, but after having much more substantial liaisons end on much worse terms, it was a nice reminder.

Becca Rose

Defining casual dating is tricky. In a general sense, it refers to loosely-agreed upon terms for a relationship, where the level of commitment is decided in advance. Usually, it’s meant to provide some parameters on how a dating situation will proceed, and how emotionally intimate the relationship is allowed to get.

The problem with strictly defining casual dating is that it can mean different things to different people. It can mean monogamy, but low priority, where you’ve agreed to only date each other, but also keep the level of future commitment and emotional investment within shared low expectations. It can also be an arrangement where you’re both free to date other people.

The main principle of casual dating is, basically, that it’s a looser situation than what your traditional monogamous, committed relationship might be.

The good thing is that casual dating can be whatever you want it to be. But that’s also the hard thing, because you and whoever you’re with has to decide what it will look like. That’s why it’s important for the boundaries to be set pretty early on in the relationship—so you both can have an accurate expectations and start out on the same page.

There are more than a few ways to go about casually dating, but perhaps the most commonly understood meaning of the phrase is that the relationships you enter will not be monogamous. (It’s important not to confuse non-monagamy in casual dating with polyamory—a polyamorous person can be a non-monagmous casual dater, but that’s not always the case.)

Casual dating is meant to be more of an in-between phase, where you’re not ready to be in a serious relationship, but you still want to enjoy romantic company until you find someone you feel is worth the commitment. It can be seen as a way to play the field a bit. Look at it as a way to meet new and interesting people and have some fun, memorable experiences. Try to resolve what your goals are before embarking on the casual dating journey—it’ll make the whole thing more enjoyable for you and those that you date.

If you’re interested in dipping your toe in the casual dating waters, there are a few things you should keep in mind. You need to be okay with your dates dating other people. If you’re going to, you have to be cool with them getting the same amount of freedom. If you know you tend to be a more jealous person, it might not be a good idea for you to try it.

If you enter into a casual dating arrangement with someone, you’re both going to need to be honest and upfront. Do you want to hear about the other people they’re dating? If not, you have to make that a boundary from the start. If you’re okay with it, you’ll have to talk about the level of detail the two of you will share. You can choose whatever feels best to you, but for most people, casual dating is about limiting the depth of your emotional connection, so you may not want to share on those topics.

One thing casual dating does not mean is that you can disregard the feelings of your dates. You are both still important to each other, regardless of whether or not you’ve already decided this won’t be a major thing. You have to treat people kindly and with respect, no matter what the future of your relationship might be. If you’re with someone who acts like casual dating means they don’t have to care about your feelings at all, they’re just being a jerk. Being considerate is just basic human decency—plus, it’ll make your time together, however limited that may be, more enjoyable.

It’s okay if you try it and find you’re not that into casual dating. It’s also okay to make that your main mode of dating for however long you want to. As long as you’re being honest and kind, there’s no wrong way to do it.

Freelance Writer and Author

Becca Rose is a freelance writer with a great love of cheese. Her work has been published on HelloGiggles, The Huffington Post, The Establishment, Bustle, The Toast, and more. You can find her on Twitter @bookbeaut.

There are a lot of terms that people have trouble wrapping their head around. One of them is “casual dating.” What is casual dating? How do you know that it’s what’s right for you at the time? How do you know when it’s time to make things a little less casual? The Art of Charm is here to answer your questions about the topic of casual dating.

Defining Casual Dating

We’re going to call casual dating any kind of dating where there is no exclusivity, implied or otherwise. If you’re casually dating the two of you don’t even default to a Friday or Saturday night. You have to go ahead and actually make a date every time that you make one. In addition, you, her or both might be dating other people at the same time. Either way, there’s no real commitment in place — this is the simple response to “what is casual dating?”

Is Casual Dating Right For You?

Casual dating is right for different people at different points in their lives. For example, if you’re very busy with work or other commitments, casual dating can be a great way to date without making things too serious. Casual dating can also be great for the man who is just out of a relationship and doesn’t want to get too invested. Finally, casual dating might be right for you if you’re just OK with not being committed: You don’t need a reason to keep things casual. It might just be more your speed than a full-on relationship.

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Become Less Casual?

A lot of guys ask us when it’s time to take their relationship to the next level. There are a lot of ways that you know, some of which might apply to you and some of which might not. At the end of the day, you need to evaluate all of these factors and make the decision that works best for you. Some factors to consider include:

  • Do you want to be exclusive? It sounds simple, but this is the most important question to ask yourself: Is this what you want?
  • Are you dating other people? If you’re not dating other people, that might be your answer; Maybe she’s already the one that you’re looking for.
  • Do you see her as a long-term partner? Can you envision a future with her? We don’t mean, “do you think about what your kids look like?” Just, do you see yourself with her in a year?
  • Have you gone through things together? Adversity can form a bond. If the two of you have gone through a struggle together and come out stronger, that might be a sign that she’s the right one for you in at least the medium term.
  • Has she sort of moved in? Call it the “George Costanza” test: Does she have a bunch of her stuff in your place? Are you OK with it? That’s a sign that you’re probably already moving into a relationship.
  • Is she your favorite person to spend time with? When it comes to divvying up your free time does she get most or all of it? That’s a big sign that it’s time to take things to the next level.

All of this should provide you with a comprehensive answer to “what is casual dating” and elp you figure out if it is your type of thing.

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