Casual Dating — 13 Rules To Swear By

Dating experience | | , Copywriter & Sports journalist
Updated On: July 26, 2023
Casual dating

While most of us are fans of passionate love stories, there’s no denying that relationships come with their own challenges. With never-ending fights, the need for space, every week things seem to get worse. The constant drama and problems you face in a relationship may make you wonder if it’s even worth it. If only you could date without all the drama. Newsflash: It’s possible with casual dating (if you follow the rules).

That is, of course, if you do it right. Imagine the comfort and warmth of being in a relationship without the expectation of constantly being in touch. You won’t have to text your bae before every boys/girls’ night out, and you won’t be fighting about not calling each other every single day.

So, how do you pull off casual dating correctly? Is it even worth it? What exactly is casual dating? We answer all your burning questions below.

What Is The Point Of Casual Dating?

Casual dating means dating without expectations and labels. You’ll both still speak to each other frequently, spend time with each other but unlike in a serious relationship, you won’t be worried about going the distance. It’s sort of a no-strings-attached, no-commitment relationship (much like your relationship with the gym).

There are many types of casual relationships, and before people jump into one, they usually set up casual dating rules they’d like to follow. Whether they want exclusivity or not, if sex is involved or not, and what the appropriate punishment will be if one of them tries making up cute nicknames. The point of casual dating, you ask? Could be any of the following, or all of them:

1. When you don’t really want a relationship

It could be because of a bad past experience, or if you haven’t really moved on or are tired of the constant “talk to me!” texts. For people who don’t really want a full-blown relationship but still would like to have something more than just a friends-with-benefits arrangement with someone, casual dating could be the answer.

2. It can be a healthy sexual outlet

While some people may not involve sex in a casual relationship but casual relationship psychology tells us that most of them start because of the aspect of sex. It provides a healthy outlet for sexual discovery and satisfaction, especially in young adults. Exclusivity can often take the backseat in a casual relationship and hence, people can also have multiple sexual partners.

3. When you want to avoid the relationship drama

Maybe you’ve been in a toxic relationship or you just don’t like the drama that comes with a relationship. You won’t be receiving any “You don’t give me attention!” texts in a casual relationship. You don’t have to worry about hanging out with friends of the opposite sex. Best of all, you won’t have to answer, “So, what’d you eat today?” every single day.

4. For the emotional connection

When you feel emotionally connected with a person, but you don’t want to be in a serious relationship, casual dating could be for you. Some people like being emotionally fulfilled but are scared of commitment (we’re on to you, Pisceans).

Related Reading: Casual Sex Is Great As Long As You Treat it Casually

5. When you want to get used to dating

Perhaps you’re coming out of a long period of being single, or you’ve never been in a relationship before. A casual relationship can be the perfect segue between long-term singledom to a full-blown relationship. When you figure out the casual dating etiquette, you’ll also be figuring out a bit of what you should do when you actually get into a serious relationship with someone.

Sounds good so far, right? Thinking you might even try one? Great! But before you hop into casual dating and end up completely in love (one of the biggest concerns in a casual relationship), you should check out these types of casual dating, so you can figure out which one suits you best.

Types Of Casual Dating

What is considered casual dating? Since everyone answers that question differently (Blue/black, white/gold dress, anyone?), the types can differ too. To some, it may mean something that’s purely physical. Others may be looking for emotional intimacy, devoid of sex. And some may be looking for the best of both worlds, just without the commitment.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of the types of casual dating, since it’s really yours to define, at the end of the day. That is, of course, if you two actually do get around to having the panic-inducing “so, what are we?” conversation.

1. The one that’s centered around sex

When you ask someone what is considered casual dating, they’re probably going to tell you it’s one that’s all about the sex. It’s the most famous type and something that might be described as a fling. Casual relationships vs FWB, however, is a tricky argument. Sure, an FWB relationship features sex as well, but a casual relationship may feature a little more emotional intimacy than an FWB dynamic.

It’s usually well understood that your relationship is a fling with a time limit, and perhaps “how long should you casually date someone?” becomes the biggest question in their dynamic. The answer? As long as you feel comfortable with it.

2. The one that’s all about emotional intimacy

Casual link-ups can be platonic as well. Maybe you’re looking for a cuddling partner or someone you can share anything with. The difference between this person and your friends will be that you’ll often share a lot more with them, and the emotional attachment will definitely be a lot higher than for Greg, who you text once every year on his birthday.

3. A “relationship” without the commitment

You’re going out on cute picnics, you’re going at it in the bedroom every chance you get, you’re going to social gatherings together and your friends might even know about you two. But, you’ve clearly established that this is temporary and there aren’t any commitments involved.

We’d say it’s like playing with fire, but then again, it might seem too good to not pursue. In such a dynamic, it’s imperative to follow the ground rules for casual dating (more on that later).

4. “We’re just going with the flow”

A.k.a you haven’t had a conversation about defining what you have. This type is dangerous, as one of you may be expecting more than the other person is willing to give. A conversation about what you two are might yield answers like “Let’s just have some fun,” or “Let’s go with the flow”. Yeah, sure, but there’s a waterfall coming up, and the only boat in sight is named “label me, please”.

Casual relationship psychology tells us that labeling what you have can be beneficial for both of you. Managing expectations will be easier, and no one will get hurt. Our advice? The flow you’re going into might be toxic waste. Analyze and evacuate.

5. The initial dating stage

You’ve met a couple of times, you’re getting to know each other and you’re in the “talking” stage, but don’t really want a committed relationship just yet. This might really be a pre-relationship stage, or just a “hanging out” stage. Either way, it’s incredibly important to answer the question, “How long should you casually date someone, if you’re expecting a relationship after it?” It’s best to do it before things get messy.

Now that you’re aware of the types and the point of such a dynamic, it’s time to strap in and get going, right? Well, not so fast. No matter what type you go for, it may just end up in smoke if you don’t follow the casual dating rules.

Related Reading: Good Sex Can Kiss Your Worries Away – 5 True Stories

What Are The Rules Of Casual Dating?

Just like anything else you’ll do in life, there are pros and cons to casual dating. Some of the cons include developing one-sided love or jealousy issues. Make sure you abide by the following rules so you know the casual dating etiquette and don’t end up head over heels for your partner (we’re talking to you again, Pisceans).

One in which both partners communicate is the best type of casual relationship.
The rules of casual dating can work very well for you

1. Ask yourself if you can handle it

Before you even start, you need to ask yourself if this is actually what you want instead of a serious relationship. If you think you’re the kind who falls in love easily *ahem-Pisceans-ahem*, maybe a casual relationship isn’t for you. Evaluate casual dating vs serious dating in your mind and figure out which one you want. If you jump in without even knowing what casual dating means, you could be in for a wild ride, and not the sexy kind.

2. Set up the ground rules and follow them

The casual dating vs serious dating line can be crossed before you even realize you’ve crossed it. This is why you need to make sure you make some ground rules. Rules about how often you’ll meet, what stuff you’re both comfortable talking about (for example, you might not want to talk about their other dates), when and how much time you can spend with each other, etc.

3. Communicate like your life depends on it

It doesn’t matter how you think they’ll take it, you need to tell them what’s on your mind. Whatever it is you want from a casual relationship, you should make sure your partner knows about it from the get-go. Out of all the types of casual relationships, the best ones are where the partners communicate with each other openly. Get to know your partner by asking the questions that matter and not stuff like what their favorite color is.

4. Make sure exclusivity and sex has been discussed

What does casual dating mean to a guy? Of course, sex and multiple partners, right? Assumptions like that could mean your casual relationship is over before it starts. Make sure you both have a dialogue about whether you want exclusive dating and if you’re both comfortable with sex or not. You don’t want to be having awkward conversations with your partner after they hear something from someone.

5. Don’t vanish

Casual dating is more chilled out than a serious relationship but that doesn’t mean you can ghost your partner whenever you want. You need to respect them and make sure you’re respected too.

Completely disappearing is so against casual dating etiquette that it may just kill whatever it is you both started. Actually, there’s not a single soul on earth who likes being ghosted. So as a rule of thumb, just don’t ghost. Opt to talk to them instead or just ask for some personal time.

6. Don’t lie about your sexcapades (or anything)

Yes, you’re not officially dating and there may be no real future here, but that doesn’t give you the right to lie. Even if you’ve both decided against exclusivity, if they want to know if you’re hooking up with people or not, don’t lie. It’s hard to deal with a liar in any relationship.

Don’t lie about other important things either. Just because you’re not going to settle down with this person doesn’t mean you can project yourself as a marine biologist who once saved a whale.

infographic on rules of casual dating
Rules of casual dating

7. Keep the cuteness in check

Over time, you may want to do cute things for your casual dating partner, because why not? In a serious relationship, that’s the kind of stuff you live for. In a casual relationship, however, you need to know when to stop.

Don’t make them think you’re in love so they don’t have to ask if this is still casual (don’t book a trip with them 6 months in the future, please). Your partner could even go through casual dating anxiety if you start acting too lovey-dovey all of a sudden. So, ease up on the heart-shaped chocolates. Or buy yourself a box. Another perk of casual dating is that you don’t have to share everything.

Related Reading: Is It Healthy To Have Casual Sex?

8. But don’t stand them up

While trying to tone down the cuteness, don’t go overboard and start becoming completely mean. You need to do enough to show them you care and you’re interested, but not enough to convey that you’ve fallen in love. Go out to the movies, go out on dates, work on making the sex better, if you’re having any. The crucial balance between not going overboard and being nonchalant is important to find. If the shoe fits right, it won’t be hard to find the balance.

9. Keep it on the hush-hush

You don’t need to be uploading stories on social media with “out with bae!” captions. Maybe don’t tell your friends about it, just keep this between you two. You both know it’s temporary; not only will you confuse all your friends but you might also give each other the wrong idea.

Imagine waking up to being tagged in a story your casual dating partner has uploaded. Needless to say, you’ll be the one going through casual dating anxiety then (if you’re wondering what to do in this situation, see point 3).

10.  Put yourself first

You’re not in a serious relationship, go out and do what you want. Meet new people if you want to, go on that impromptu trip, live your life. Personal space is important in every relationship. When you have a life outside the relationship, it can help put things in perspective and keep things casual. Make sure you don’t sacrifice too many things to keep this casual relationship alive (notice the casual in bolds. That’s all it is, casual).

11.  Live in the moment

Don’t think about how it’ll end or when it’ll end. You shouldn’t be too worried about reading between the lines or trying to decipher what to do next. Let things flow naturally and enjoy everything as it’s coming to you. At its peak, a casual relationship can be very fulfilling and rewarding. Since there’s minimal drama, you can focus on being in the moment (if you get too inspired and get a carpe diem tattoo, please don’t blame us when you eventually regret it).

stories about dating

12.  Know when it’s time to stop

Conventionally, casual dating is supposed to be something temporary. If you keep at it for too long and you’re meeting each other thrice a week, before you know it you’ll be on the cusp of a relationship.

This is also one of the biggest differences in casual relationships vs FWB. An FWB can sustain such a relationship for quite a while when done right, but a casual relationship can get tricky. If you find yourself buying a bouquet of roses for your casual date, you need to stop and ask yourself what you’re doing.

Related Reading: 20 Signs He Wants More Than Your Friendship And Not A Casual Relationship

13. Don’t be bitter if it ends because your partner is now in a relationship

You know, smile because it happened and stuff. It may hurt if casual dating ends abruptly for whatever reason, but the whole reason you started was that there’d be no commitment. They’re not picking anyone over you, just moving on the next thing. As you should too (even if it’s another casual relationship, go crazy!).

The ground rules for casual dating depend on what you two want them to be. There’s no rulebook that guides exactly what you must be doing, and you’re at liberty to establish boundaries that you feel comfortable with. The most important thing is to make sure you communicate and don’t vanish, that’s the least of the casual dating etiquette you can follow.


1. Can casual dating lead to a relationship?

Yes, casual dating can lead to a relationship and in many cases it does. In fact, one person falling in love during a casual relationship is all too common, which is why it may not be for everyone. A relationship that stemmed from casual dating can flourish, and lead to a fulfilling romance since both people are already comfortable with each other.

2. Is casual dating healthy?

If you follow the casual dating rules listed in this article, it can be extremely healthy. It will make you more comfortable with the idea of dating someone, be emotionally satisfying, all while the drama and expectations are as low as your motivation to work out. And if you mean physically, as long as you use protection, it should be!

3. How long does casual dating last?

Casual relationships are like candles that burn twice as bright, but half as long. They can be explosive and exciting while they last, but they usually end anywhere between 3-4 weeks to 3-4 months.

4. Is a casual relationship worth it?

A casual relationship is absolutely worth it. When evaluating the pros and cons of casual dating, you’ll find the pros outweigh the cons if both of you are on the same page about expectations. If you’re just experimenting or don’t want a serious relationship yet, you should try out casual dating.

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