A Comprehensive Guide To Different Types of Dating And What They Mean

Dating experience | | , Writer & Editor
Updated On: January 4, 2024
Types of Dating

If you’ve grown up reading romance novels, such as The Notebook, you may not be able to accept anything less mushy in your relationships and may be in a perpetual search for true love. But, at times, we need to swallow the reality pill and look around us, just to get a feel of how the relationship and dating scenario has evolved over the years. Be it the increasing rate of the LGBTQ community members coming out of their closets, or the growing need for physical relationships sans emotional attachments, the dating dynamics these days are fluid and non-judgmental. Through this article, we’ll try and take a good look at the various types of dating that are in vogue these days.

We will also look at what makes each work and what doesn’t. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all dating mantra in this world, and couples can be happy with varied levels of commitment. So, whether you’re single or in a relationship, we hope this comprehensive guide to the various dating styles helps you in choosing the right one for yourself.

16 Types of Dating And How They Work

Does dating mean boyfriend and girlfriend? Well, maybe it did 10 years back. In the sphere of dating these days, we often come across different levels of dating and new and unique terms that baffle us. And these evolving concepts seem to have made dating a little too complex for us. After all, you may be clueless about what your potential partner is up to or whether they’re into commitment or some momentary kink. In a study in the US, about half of all respondents said they find dating these days harder than ever before. And dating nowadays need not necessarily lead to a romantic relationship. So, let’s delve deeper into the many different types of dating in the world and find out if we should open up our minds a bit. Here it goes…

1. Online dating

Gen-Z doesn’t wait for their friends to set them up for a date. In these days of social media overload, young people are always hooked on to the internet, and just like other everyday activities, such as ordering food or looking for a house, dating too is mostly done or initiated online.

Related Reading: The Art Of Online Dating: Navigating The World Of Apps And Websites

Apart from different dating apps such as Tinder or Bumble, people these days are also keen on meeting new people to date through other social media channels, such as Instagram, as a TIME article states. Let’s look at how this type of dating works:

  • In online dating, you get an overview of the person before meeting them
  • Stalking social media profiles of your potential dates offers a lot more facts than one normally gets to know on physical date
  • You may attract unwanted attention
  • Personal details, if available on such platforms, can be misused
  • You can fall victim to fraud
  • You have to save yourself from catfishing, a tactic of appearing like a different person on social media

2. Speed dating

Traditionally an ancient Jewish custom, speed dating is a conventional form of dating that has gained scores of fans all over the world. But how does it work? Well, this is a type of dating that is generally organized by dating or matchmaking organizations, for selected clients at set venues, such as restaurants or bars. Each participant is paired up with a different partner for a set period of time and gets to talk to them to get to know them better on a one-on-one date. After each interaction, both the participants get to rate each other and state whether they wish to meet them later. The organizers later let the participants know who is/are interested in them.

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While it’s apt for working professionals with little or no time to date or people who wish to date seriously, it’s too clinical and participants may miss the fun and romance of a date. Likewise, the dating speed prevents people from knowing a person thoroughly.

3. Friends with benefits

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis perhaps helped this term gain popularity across the globe in the early 2010s with their blockbuster movie Friends with Benefits. But how do such “friendships” function? Well, the term is self-explanatory. Such a relationship is mostly non-committal and may last for a short period, with very little romance and a lot of sex!

While a friends with benefits dynamic offers momentary physical satisfaction, the lack of long-term commitment can break a partner if they get involved emotionally. At the same time, partners in such relationships may develop fleeting emotions for each other.

Related Reading: Teenage Dating Apps – 11 Dating Apps For Under 18

4. Blind dating

A term that originated in the 1920s in the US, a ‘blind date’ is a romantic interaction between two people who have never met before, arranged by a mutual friend or acquaintance. While blind dates work for adults who are looking for serious relationships and are probably tired of trying their luck, they may end in embarrassing situations, as people involved in this type of dating have no clue what they’re getting into. Blind dating may also lead to unsafe scenarios.

Different levels of dating
Dating can range from exclusive dating to open relationships

5. Casual dating

The basic difference between casual dating and a hook-up or a ‘friends with benefits’ scenario is that there may be some level of emotional attachment involved in such relationships. It’s a bit deeper than a hook-up but not as deep as a committed relationship. While a casual relationship is usually meant for fun, it may also turn into a friendship, wherein each partner may help each other in times of need. But there’s no rush to get married or have kids. In fact, a casual connection is often a healthy relationship, with less restrictions and expectations.

Related Reading: 10 Tricks To Choose The Right Profile Pictures For Your Dating Profiles

6. Serious dating

When you’re dating with an agenda, be it marriage or a serious relationship, such as a live-in, it leads to serious dating, the most quintessential form of dating that we know of. Serious dating is often exclusive dating. In serious dating, you usually have:

  • An urgency to find suitable matches, based on your interests
  • Commitment to each other
  • Emotions for each other
  • Accountability for your actions in the relationship
  • Future plans, such as life goals or kids after marriage
What Is My Type of Guy Quiz

7. Situationships

Ever wondered “What are we?” while dating someone? Well, if you often wonder where you stand with someone in a relationship, you may be in a situationship, one of the many interesting dating methods we hear of these days. A situationship is a type of dating where you:

  • May have just started dating someone
  • Still have no clue about the future
  • May not be committed or exclusive yet

Related Reading: 12 Differences Between Dating And Being In A Relationship

Situationships can be tough for people who’re prone to getting attached to their partners and, as a Reddit user states, one shouldn’t “…waste your time hoping in a situationship, it will most likely lead to heart break.”

Infographic on types of dating
Types of Dating

8. Open relationships

One of my friends once said, “If it’s open, it’s probably not a relationship.” But these days, there’s a trend of people trying to spice up their lives with a flurry of non-monogamous relationships. One such relationship is an open relationship, where:

  • Both partners aren’t exclusive to each other and may date others.
  • Both follow consensual non-monogamy
  • The other relationships may be casual, sexual, or short-term, depending on the boundaries the couple sets

9. Long-distance dating

In this fast-paced world, partners may not always be in the same geographical coordinates. Yet, they may be committed to each other. Such situations demand long-distance relationships. Such types of dating work when the partners are in a long-term relationship and are apart because of:

  • Career-related issues
  • Immigration issues
  • Family obligations

Related Reading: How To Determine The Best Dating Site For You

Such relationships need constant effort from both the partners and communication through voice notes, phone calls, texts, and video calls. There’s a lot of scope for misunderstandings and distrust to creep in. But eventually, it’s all up to the couple.

10. Group dating

Have you ever attended a college fest with friends and their friends in the hope of finding a special someone? Or hung out with a bunch of friends at a café, in the hope of clicking with someone? Well, this is a group date. Group dating is one of the most used dating methods and works quite well when you’re in your teens. But with age, people tend to open up only to fewer people, and such a casual manner of finding suitable matches may not work.

Types of dating in the world
This is an age of fluid dating and relationship terms

11. Double dating

A toned-down version of group dating, double dating involves two couples going on joint dates. These can be mutual friends or co-workers. The idea is to cut down the awkwardness when you just start dating someone. On double dates, you also get to see how a person behaves in front of others.

Related Reading: How To Date A Girl At Work? Follow Our Tips!

12. Throuple

A very interesting subset of a consensual non-monogamous relationship is the throuple, which consists of three people. Here’s how it works:

  • In a throuple, all three people have equal importance and share equal intimacy and involvement, while in traditional polyamory, there may be a main couple
  • A throuple can consist of three gay or lesbian individuals, or a mix of heterosexual and homosexual people

So, the bottomline is, they are three-people relationships and differ from all other polyamorous relationships in the sense that all three are committed to each other. Whereas in a quintessential polyamorous relationship, there is a stable couple with other casual partners.

13. Courtship

The most exciting part of a relationship is perhaps when you’re all set to be married but still haven’t gotten over the lovey-dovey phase. This is the courting or courtship period just before you tie the knot and can be a crucial stage in getting to know each other.

Related Reading: Dating For Marriage? 15 Important Things You Should Be Prepared For

14. Flings

A fling is a purely sexual short-term relationship. Here’s what you can expect in one:

  • A no-strings-attached relationship or connection, a fling is more sexual in nature than a casual dating scenario or a friends-with-benefits set-up
  • Flings work when both partners know their boundaries and expectations
  • Flings can stem from a series of one-night stands but last longer than them
  • Flings hardly lead to romantic relationships
Dating tips

15. Polyamorous dating

With the rising fluidity of relationships these days, polyamorous dating isn’t frowned upon anymore. And there are various types of such multi-partner relationships, but what is common in them is mutual consent. So, there’s no cheating involved and all boundaries are taken care of. Let’s look at the two major types of polyamory:

  • Unicorn polyamory: This is a new addition to the dictionary of fluid relationship terms. It’s when a couple adds a third person to their relationship to spice things up. In this type of dating, the third person is not an equal party in the stable relationship but just an add-on. The third person is usually non-binary too
  • Solo polyamory: Gone are the days when being solo meant staying away from relationships. These days, some prefer staying single for as long as they can. But that doesn’t mean they don’t date. Here comes the concept of solo polyamory, where a person stays single but gets into multiple non-committal relationships, not necessarily at the same time. Such people don’t have the wish to get into a relationship with a single partner

Related Reading: Seeing Someone vs Dating – 7 Differences You Must Know About

16. Serial dating

Haven’t we all come across serial daters at some point in our lives? Such serial daters continue dating multiple people, usually one after the other. They are on all dating sites and also scout their dates on social media sites, but never seem to settle. Serial daters may have various reasons for doing what they do. For instance:

  • They may lack the resources to settle down
  • They may lack the emotional maturity to commit
  • They may use their dates as trophies for social acceptance

Key Pointers

  • With the ever-evolving lifestyle, work stress, and other factors such as rising living costs or career growth, we have noticed the evolution of many different types of dating in the world of late, apart from serious dating
  • Such dating styles include online dating through different dating apps, casual dating, flings, polyamorous dating, throuple, long-distance dating, double dating, speed dating, blind dating, and others
  • Different levels of dating have different levels of commitment, and they work only if there’s mutual consent of the partners

We hope we’ve been able to answer your question, “Does dating mean boyfriend and girlfriend?” The dating and relationship scenario these days is as varied and colorful as a rainbow. Just like no two people are alike, no two relationships will be the same. People these days are more open about their needs and wants. And this reflects in their dating choices. We’re increasingly moving toward a non-judgemental space, where concepts such as polyamory, online dating, and throuple don’t sound awkward anymore. But what’s important in all such types of dating dynamics is the consent of both/all partners, along with clear boundaries. Remember, a relationship can only be enjoyable if both or all parties don’t make each other feel comfortable and are on the same page. So, don’t wait anymore. Let love happen!

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