The world of relationships is, and always will be, a minefield of unspoken rules, emotions, and sometimes, confusion. This can be especially true if what you are looking to do is to casually date. Not all of us are ready or want a long-term, exclusive relationship. Despite that, there are a lot of benefits of casual dating. You can get to know a variety of people without any strings attached. And, if you are just looking for a little fun and company, this is a great way to go about it. But it is also important to keep certain things in mind, such as sexual health and mental health.
Thinking about it like this can make casual dating seem like the best way to have a relationship: you get the companionship you are looking for without all the commitment that comes with a monogamous exclusive relationship. So with all that in mind, casual dating is the best option for a lot of people. This is especially true if you either just got out of a relationship, or you aren’t quite sure what it is you are looking for in a partner.
But with all that said, casual dating isn’t for everyone. The arrangement could result in hurt feelings and even a loss of friendship. We don’t say this to discourage you but rather to prepare you for the unique aspects of this kind of dating. There are no cut-and-dried rules for how to date casually, but there are some things you can do to try to avoid heartbreak.
What is casual dating?
In short, to date someone casually really just means that it is not a committed, exclusive, or monogamous relationship. One or both of the people involved may be seeing other people, or at least have the option of doing so if they wish. There are many people who call this arrangement friends with benefits (FWB), but this isn’t always the best description. You may casually date someone who you did not have a friendship with previously.
Many people like this form of dating as they don’t have the pressure of commitment. These kinds of relationships, while they may turn into something long-term and permanent, are not meant to be such. If you go into a non-monogamous relationship with the hope of something meaningful long-term and permanent, you might be setting yourself up for heartbreak. So how can we avoid this unpleasant situation?
One way is to establish rules and boundaries from the beginning.
Rules and boundaries
It might seem silly to have to establish rules for a relationship that isn’t even serious, but we cannot recommend doing so strongly enough. The world of relationships is already fraught. It is easy to end up with hurt feelings, jealousy, and anger. This is true of any relationship but if you don’t prepare yourself, it can be especially true if you are casually dating someone who is openly seeing other people. If you are asking yourself how to not get attached to people in this kind of situation, there’s a chance casual dating may not be for you.
When you enter into a casual relationship, it is important that both parties agree and have a full understanding of what this means. Discuss the scope of the relationship at the beginning. Determine what you will call one another, what the expectations are when it comes to seeing other people, and above all else, make sure that you are both on the same page. If both partners do not see the relationship in the same way, that is a recipe for one or both of you to get hurt.
You should also note that not all casual relationships are sexual and not everyone in these types of relationships is seeing a ton of other people. Again, this is why it is important to have an open dialogue about what you are both expecting and looking for from the relationship.
Be honest, but don’t pry or overshare
The thing about a relationship like this is that you are likely not the only person that your partner is seeing and vice versa. It might seem weird to discuss your other relationships, but we aren’t suggesting you share the down-and-dirty details with your casual dating partner. Basically, it is important that you are both honest. If they ask if you are seeing someone else, tell them the truth. This does not mean that you give the person every juicy detail of your time with other partners, but it is important that they understand that you are seeing other people.
And the same is true of your partner. They will need to tell you if they are seeing other people and especially, if they think it might get serious with someone else. These are not easy conversations to have, but an open line of communication is one of the best ways to ensure that your heart is as safe as possible while you are casually dating.
It is not good to assume the status of your relationship. This is why open dialogue and communication are so important. People’s feelings and circumstances change and what worked for a couple in the past may not work going forward. You can avoid being blindsided by your partner telling you they want to call it off, or that they want to be more serious if you keep that line of communication open. We know a lot of people are looking at how to not catch feelings in these situations, but it can’t always be avoided and this is why communication is so key.
Most importantly, be honest with yourself
Not only do you want to keep your line of communication open and honest with your partner, but you will also have to do the same with yourself as well. It is important to think about the relationship in terms of how it makes you feel and what it is doing for your mental and physical well-being. It is tempting to ignore our hearts when we are casually dating someone. Say, for example, you are dating someone and you start to develop feelings for them that go beyond casual. What do you do then? If you want to know how to not be attached to someone, well, easier said than done.
One thing a lot of people will do is try to ignore these feelings. This is the last thing you want to do. Your feelings are paramount, as is the person you are seeing. If you find yourself wanting more from your relationship, it is not recommended that you sit back and silently hope the other will want the same thing. That is a recipe for heartbreak and disaster. It isn’t bad to have these changing feelings, but you cannot force your feelings onto that of your partner.
If you find yourself getting jealous when your partner goes out with other people, or you are hoping that they will suggest becoming exclusive, you really need to have a chat with them. If the person you are seeing is openly seeing others, chances are they are not looking for something exclusive. And while it hurts to know this, it is way less painful than giving them your time and heart, hoping for something that will never happen.
But perhaps they feel the same way and they are too afraid to bring it up themselves. This is, again, why communication is so important. Regularly checking in with each other to evaluate the relationship and make sure both are still happy with the arrangement can really help you avoid bigger heartbreak down the line.
Whatever you do, don’t ghost them
Say you are dating someone and it just isn’t working out. That happens and is one of the reasons that people like having a more low-key relationship. When you aren’t dating someone exclusively, it can feel like they aren’t really that important in your life. But this is a really bad way to look at it. Even if the relationship isn’t serious, they are people with feelings, so don’t ghost them! They deserve to be treated with respect, even if you decide you don’t want to see them anymore.
It is tempting to just “lose” their contact information and stop answering their calls, texts, or social media posts. But this is a horrible thing to do to someone. Imagine being on the receiving end! Even though these aren’t pleasant conversations, it is better to do the right thing and be honest with the person you are seeing. It will help let them down and won’t leave them forever wondering what happened or what they did to get ghosted.
So, why even casually date?
If you are new to the world of dating, this is a great way to get used to meeting other people in a dating context. It can give you the experience of talking to people and feeling them out. Not only that, but it can help you learn what you should look for and what you should avoid. Many casual dates will only be that, a single date. During that date, it is pretty easy to know if you are going to click in any sort of way. That is not to say, of course, that you can know someone is your soulmate from one date. But rather, you can easily tell if this is someone that you find interesting or that you would like to spend more time with.
For a lot of people, this is not only a way to meet people and get comfortable with the dating scene, but it is also a way to learn what we like and dislike. Not only will this help you move forward in life generally, but it will also tell us what we are looking for emotionally and physically as well. Dating in a non-serious manner is a great way to meet new people and gain a little confidence. And for some, it is the starting path to finding love.
With all this in mind, it can seem like casual dating is a great idea or a horrible one. It really all depends on the person. Some of us form attachments really quickly and will get hurt or jealous if we see our partner with someone else. For those who have trouble with the idea of a partner seeing other people, casual dating probably isn’t right for you. And that’s okay! You are not alone. There are plenty of people who don’t find this type of dating really appealing.
But for many people, with open and honest communication, casual dating can be incredibly fun and rewarding. It can help us learn about ourselves and what we are looking for in a relationship. No matter what though, relationships can be tricky, even if they aren’t exclusive. This is why it is so important to set up rules and boundaries from the beginning and regularly check in to keep that dialogue open. This will help keep you both on the same page when it comes to the relationship. Doing this will help keep your heart safe while you are casually dating.
Disclaimer: #Dating’s blog posts are for you to view at your discretion, and the sexual health insights presented are for general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and readers should seek professional guidance if appropriate.