How long should you casually date someone? That depends on how your feelings have progressed over the course of knowing them. So how do ‘you’ feel about the person you’re seeing? Do you find casual dating fun? But does the question of “what next?” weigh on your mind? While fun, dating casually can be a complex experience that brings a great deal of questions and dilemmas in its wake. To help you address those and understand casual dating etiquette, we reached out to counseling psychologist Utkarsh Khurana, a counseling psychologist, who is a relationship and intimacy coach.
He says, “Casual dating, no commitment, meaning you have a romantic interest in someone but you don’t see them as often as you would see your partner in a relationship. One of the main casual dating vs serious dating differences is that casual dating implies non-exclusivity and lack of commitment, whereas serious dating needs commitment. You like someone, you go on dates with them, even get physical with them, but there are no deeper emotions involved either like vulnerability, security, and compromise.”
What Is The Point Of Casual Dating?
Casual relationship psychology is quite simple. You like a person enough to want to hang out with them but not so much that you want to be tied down together. You want to keep things light. Casual dating can sometimes lead to a serious relationship if both parties develop feelings and are on the same page about what they want in a relationship. According to a study published in the journal Sex Roles, which surveyed 221 college students, both men and women said they’d prefer dating, even if casually, given a casual dating vs friends with benefits choice.
Utkarsh says, “When you are casually dating someone, there is no bigger agenda besides spending time with them. You meet them, get physical, and have a good time. The point of casual dating is to socialize and fulfill each other’s physical needs and sometimes emotional needs as well. You like someone, and you want to get to know them, connect with them, and spend quality time with them.”
Is it ok to casually date? Yes. Casual dating can be a great way to explore whether someone you find charming would be the right fit for you. It’s like a trial run for a relationship, be it with a high school crush, a coworker, or a person you connected with on a dating site. This is the whole point of keeping this light and casual.
Casual dating rules are simple. You need to follow them if you don’t want either of you to get hurt in the end:
- Define the relationship from the get-go
- Don’t make any long-term plans with them
- Don’t be possessive/controlling/jealous
- How long do casual relationships last? As long as you both want it to
- Be respectful of each other’s boundaries
- Give importance to other things in your life
- Be clear about expectations and needs
- Nurture independence, and it’s better if you keep your circles separate
How Long Should You Casually Date Someone — Expert View
How long should you casually date someone before becoming exclusive? There is no concrete answer to this. In the beginning, it’s all about getting to know each other. The talking phase is where your dopamine levels are high with the thrill of meeting someone new. It can go either way:
- The commonalities might make you two click and develop a great bond, which serves as the foundation of something more serious
- There may be red flags that put you off and you may want to keep things casual for as long as it is fun for both parties and eventually go your separate ways
Sounds pretty clear-cut, right? But relationships rarely are so. A casual relationship can also trigger a host of questions: What does it mean when a guy asks you to stay the night? In a 3-month relationship, what to expect? Does it mean we’re getting serious? Well, it’s not about the duration, but the quality.
Utkarsh says, “You should date someone as long as you are comfortable with them. Make sure they follow casual dating etiquette and respect each other’s boundaries and space. You can date them until it’s no longer fun or satisfying.” Below are some signs that casual dating has run its course:
- When you start thinking about committing to someone else or to the person you’re casually dating
- When you feel like something is missing
- When you feel bored
- When you notice the signs you are in a dead-end relationship
- When you don’t miss them and aren’t bothered to meet them
- When dating them feels like a chore
- When you’re both no longer on the same page
How Often Should You See Someone You’re Casually Dating?
How long should you casually see someone, or how often should you see them? Utkarsh says, “It depends on how much the other person acknowledges, appreciates, and accepts you. See them when you want to fulfill your emotional or physical needs. But meeting them too often can lead to unhealthy dependency. This contradicts post-hookup etiquette and can create a toxic bond.”
It’s perfectly fine to start by seeing them once a week. Once you get to know each other, increase the frequency of your meet-ups slowly. You can meet them twice a week if you are attracted to them. Build the connection from there. How long is too long to date without commitment? Well, that depends on the frequency of your meetings and the intensity of your connection. Remember, there is no guarantee of a transition from casual to serious dating. So, tread lightly.
How To Date Someone Casually Without Getting Hurt
Utkarsh says, “This is one of the most important casual dating rules: Do not hurt yourself or the person you’re dating. This is why many people refrain from being their true selves while casually dating. They put on their masks and don’t get to know each other on a deeper level.” Below are some ways you can casually date someone without getting hurt:
1. Be honest
Maintain emotional integrity in relationships by always being honest about your feelings. If you are starting to fall for them, let them know. Your emotional state is also a good barometer for assessing how long should you casually date someone. Stop as soon as you think you’re developing feelings for them, or as soon as it seems you’re not on the same page as them. That’s when casual dating turns serious, or messy.
2. Is it ok to casually date more than one person? Yes
As long as everyone involved is aware of what the dynamics are, it’s okay to keep dating more than one person at one time. That will let them know you aren’t ready for exclusivity yet. Don’t lead them on and make them think you are ready for commitment.
3. Check in with yourself
Casual relationship rules dictate that you should check in with yourself once in a while. Your mental and physical well-being should be your topmost priority.
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4. Don’t let go of your hobbies
Many people make the mistake of letting go of their hobbies and interests once they find someone new. You spend all your time with them and forget to give time to other aspects of your life.
5. Casual dating texting rules: Respect boundaries and don’t get attached
How long should you casually date someone? Until you get attached to them and they become an integral part of your life’s vision. Don’t be the only person to get attached in the relationship, especially if it’s a no-strings-attached relationship. Be it physical, emotional, or intellectual attachment.
6. Always be willing to walk away
Utkarsh says, “What a casual relationship means to a guy can differ from what it means to a woman. For women, it could be a defense mechanism to avoid certain feelings. Sometimes, a woman casually dates to make someone jealous. But they can also casually date for fun and sex.“
What a casual relationship means to a guy is simpler. They are inclined toward casual dating to mostly fulfill their sexual needs. Sometimes they get into rebound relationships too. They date casually to protect their feelings, identity, ego, or inner child.”
How To Move From Casual Dating To An Official Relationship – 7 Tips
Moving from casual dating to an official relationship can be harder in the present times. People are more cautious about red flags in potential partners. Additionally, one doesn’t have to settle, there are always better options. In such a climate, if you feel that your casual relationship is way more than casual, here’s what you can do:
1. Be sure about it
If you think that you’re catching feelings in a casual relationship and want to move into a committed relationship, then you need to be sure of your feelings before you have the “let’s get serious” conversation.
- Ask yourself some important questions – Do you want to be in a relationship, or is it just loneliness that you’re seeking an escape from? Are they the right person for you? Do not enter a relationship if you’re under external pressure to get committed; you might end up resenting the relationship
- Do not rush. If you’re unsure about your casual relationship, take a break and reflect on your feelings. Guys often pull away before they commit. If you observe that your casual boyfriend has suddenly disappeared and you’re getting thoughts like, “Am I being used?”, relax. He’s probably giving it some thought; perhaps you should too
2. Look for evidence before turning a casual relationship into a serious one
It makes sense to wait and look for cues that suggest both of you are ready for the transition before you propose taking your casual romance to the next level.
- You’ll notice certain body language cues. They’ll lean toward you, they’ll have an open posture, and they’ll smile with their eyes. These are signs your casual hookup likes you
- How to know if he wants a relationship or if she wants to be exclusive? Observe who mostly initiates the conversations. Do you have any awkward silences? Do you flirt? If yes, it’s the right time to proceed to the next steps
- One of the signs a casual relationship is getting serious is that you gradually start caring about each other. Do they allow you to talk to them about uncomfortable issues? Can you trust them?
3. Suggest making it official
If you’re getting positive cues and find that your bond already mimics a romantic relationship, then you should consider making it official.
- Don’t make a big deal out of it and freak them out. There is no need for a grand affair. Keep it casual. Invite them to a neutral place in their free time, and express your heart out
- Make them feel comfortable. Ask them if they want to take it slow. Make sure you keep checking in with them
4. Express your feelings
One of the major relationship dos and don’ts is to express your feelings and not take your partner for granted. Therefore, it’s important to ensure communication
- Be honest about your feelings. Whether you want to take it slow or feel an uncontrollable love for your partner, let them know. At the same time, be aware that they may not always reciprocate your feelings with the same intensity
- Define commitment in a relationship. Be clear that you want an exclusive relationship
5. Try to meet in the middle
Though you shouldn’t compromise on your values or independence for a relationship, dating exclusively rules entail some sort of compromise. However, this should be from both ends, not just one person.
- If you disagree with your partner over something, instead of arguing or trying to convince them otherwise, try to respect their perspective and agree to disagree
- Try to come to a mutual understanding through communication. Don’t be passive-aggressive or expect your partner to read your mind and fulfill your needs, wants, desires, and expectations. Unlike short-term relationships, deep conversations are warranted for building a deep, enduring connection
6. Show your care
Do not be shy about showing you care about your partner. Ensure they don’t feel stifled. Remember to take baby steps
- Be attentive to them. Pay attention to what they say. This will go a long way in making them feel valued
- When both of you are ready, introduce them to friends and family. This shows that you’re serious about them and answers their questions like, “Is he into me or just wants to hook up?” or “Does she truly want to take things to the next level?”
7. Maintain your autonomy
For a successful relationship, you need not only love but also respect. For each other and yourself.
- Give each other space in the relationship; do not be helicopter partners
- Setting boundaries will help you maintain your sense of identity as well as forge a healthy connection with your partner
- The first few months of a relationship, while thrilling, can also be the most challenging. Not only are you with someone new and have to adapt to the new surroundings, but you also have to draw the fine line between attention and scrutiny. So, keep checking in with them to ensure that both of you are comfortable with the relationship
How To End A Casual Relationship
When you’re trying to figure out how long should you casually date someone, understanding how to end a casual relationship becomes the other side of the coin. Casual daters often choose casual relationships because they want to enjoy the benefits of dating without drama. Unless both partners are on the same page, casual relationships don’t work. Here’s what Utkarsh advises those who lament, “She/He only wants to see me every two weeks, but I want commitment.”
1. Initiate the serious conversation
Whether it’s the fact that you are not serious about settling down at the moment or you’re in the “she/he wants casual, I want serious” conundrum, explain why you want to end the relationship.
- It may sound appealing to ghost them without getting into a mess of explaining things, but it’s never a good idea. Besides, talking about your reasons to end a casual relationship provides both partners closure after the breakup
- How to end it with a guy who is stringing you along or a girl who plays hot and cold? Tell them why you’re breaking up with them. Don’t play any blame games; be honest
2. Keep your pants on
Ending a casual relationship is no different from any other type of breakup because you need to sever all ties with your casual partner to be able to break free and move on. That means no more sleeping with them. No matter how good the sex, you have to put an end to it otherwise you will find yourself trapped in an unhealthy cycle of an on-again-off-again connection that can quickly turn toxic and emotionally draining.
3. Decide the way forward
People may choose to be in a casual relationship because they want the experience of dating multiple people, because they’re not sure what they want in a relationship, or because they’re not sure if they want a relationship in the first place. Hence, it’s important to be aware of how you feel
- Decide if you want to be friends. You observe that he wants to hang out but not date, while you want a relationship. If you feel intensely about them, it’ll be a great idea to stay away. However, if you feel that they can be a trusted friend, then that sounds like a great plan too
- Don’t avoid a confrontation with your feelings. It’s normal to develop feelings even in “your bed or mine” dating. The idea is to process it healthily instead of resenting or distracting yourself with new people
- For women, a perceived risk of traditional dating is the expectation of settling down. So do not take it personally if she said she’s not looking for a relationship and wants to cut ties
4. Be prepared for backlash
If you observe the signs a casual relationship is getting serious from your partner’s end while you are not inclined to commit, then it may result in a backlash.
- Multiple times, people confuse chemistry with love. They may end up believing you led them on while you were just dating casually. Not only is this an insecure attachment red flag, but it can also lead to an unhappy or even violent parting
- This is why it’s important to stress that you’re not looking for anything serious, so nobody gets the wrong idea. At the same time, be aware that you’re not responsible for how other people feel
- Casual dating is when two people like each other and spend time together to see if they’re compatible
- One of the benefits of casual dating is there is no commitment required
- In casual dating, always be honest about your intentions from the start
One main benefit of casual dating vs serious dating is that in casual dating, you can date multiple people at the same time. You can’t do that in a serious relationship. There is a possibility of jealousy coming in the way, though, which you will need to tackle skillfully.
How long should you casually date someone before becoming exclusive? According to a dating survey conducted by Time Out on 11,000 participants worldwide, people decide to go exclusive after an average of five to six dates, which is somewhere between one to two months. If they date beyond that without commitment, then both or either one of them don’t have any intentions of a serious relationship with each other.
It depends on how fond you are of them and how comfortable they make you feel. You can meet them once or twice a week, if your first date goes well. Casual dating texting rules suggest avoiding going overboard with cheesy texts. If you see them more than that, then this is when casual dating turns serious.