Relationships these days are almost always deemed complicated. We’re bombarded with a whole host of terms that describe different types of relationships, from situationships and friends with benefits to flirty friends and open relationships. We’d argue that casual relationships reign supreme, though.
Whether you’re fresh out of a bad breakup or trying to have the hottest “hot girl summer” of your life, you might be on the hunt for a no-strings-attached type of relationship. Maybe you want to date multiple people at the same time. Or maybe you want to form an alliance against catching feelings.
We’d argue that the definition of a casual relationship might be a little blurred. Before flirting with the thought of entering a casual relationship, you might need to define what “casual” means to you and to your potential partner. But remember to set a healthy boundary or two to ensure you’re taken care of.
We know the appeal of a casual relationship stems from the fact that you can keep things – well – casual. We agree that’s a great way to approach the art of casual dating, but you can’t get away with dating someone without making your expectations clear and setting some ground rules from the get-go.
Now, you might be wondering whether casual relationships are something you want to do or not. We’re going to bring you up to speed with all you need to know about casual relationships. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of this type of relationship to ensure you’re making an informed decision.
What is a casual relationship?
Without beating around the bush, a casual relationship refers to a type of physical or emotional relationship between two people who want to date without demanding or expecting the commitment that comes with a “regular” relationship.
We mentioned beforehand that casual relationships are surrounded by mystery because they’re versatile – whether you want to see multiple people at the same time, see each other without commitment, or have a “regular” relationship without catching feelings, that’s up to you.
Contrary to popular belief, casual relationships come with a bunch of benefits for people who are on the same page about what they want. Casual relationships aren’t complicated when you approach them with respect, a healthy boundary or two, and open and honest communication.
What are the pros and cons of being in a casual relationship?
What’s the best way to figure out whether you’re a casual girlie or not? A pros and cons list, of course! When you’re trying to navigate something as complex as a casual relationship, you need to understand what advantages and disadvantages come with the territory. And, you might be surprised by what you encounter!
Casual relationships might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that doesn’t make them inherently unhealthy, either.
When you decide to keep things casual, for example, you remove the pressure that comes with a “regular” relationship to meet your partner’s needs, take care of them physically and emotionally, or even live up to your partner’s expectations.
Casually dating someone you met at a bar or on Tinder can be a great way for you to figure out what you want and don’t want before you’re ready to commit. And you get to meet and experience multiple different people without wondering whether you’re doing something wrong.
Casual relationships are perfect for when you’re fresh out of a bad breakup and you want to focus on your wants and needs, or even your friends, family, and career.
We do need to underline that most cons of casual relationships come from the two parties not being open and honest about their expectations. When you decide to date someone casually, you need to be on the same page about what you want from the relationship, as well as what you don’t want.
With that in mind, one of the biggest cons of keeping things casual is the possibility of the two of you forming real romantic feelings, causing misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Some could also be using casual dating as an excuse to be careless, selfish, or dismissive of the other person’s needs.
Other than that, though, going on dates with multiple people at the same time can become quite time-consuming, repetitive, impersonal, and even boring. Of course, when you’re dating someone casually, you don’t have the opportunity to explore a deeper connection and get to know each other better.
What to do when you’re in a casual relationship?
With that out of the way, though, you might be wondering how to keep things simple and sleek when you’re expected to bolster boundaries from the get-go. Different people have different boundaries, and that’s why you need to listen to your gut and go with what feels right for you.
Depending on your personal preferences, you might end up with someone you really like yet can’t be with because they’re adamant about seeing each other every night or attending family functions together. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to casual relationships.
1. Make up your mind
Casual dating isn’t for everyone, and you need to figure out what you want before you surprise your date with “I don’t want anything serious right now.”
Think about what you want and why you want, so that you’re able to communicate your expectations to your date right away. The sooner the two of you are on the same page, the better.
Ideally, your date will agree with you and the two of you can live happily ever after. You do, however, need to remember that not everyone will want the same things that you do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Putting what you’re really looking for out there will save you a lot of time and energy.
2. Make sure the two of you are on the same page
If you don’t want anything serious, it’s important that the person you’re with doesn’t want anything serious, either. It’s imperative that the two of you have the same expectations before you start sharing a Netflix password or attending your BFF’s wedding together.
Make it clear that you’re looking for a casual relationship from the get-go, and your date can decide whether that’s something they’re interested in or not.
Moreover, you don’t need to have “the talk” to define your relationship – you can simply say something along the lines of: “I love spending time with you and that’s why I need you to know that I’m not looking for a relationship right now.”
Articulate your expectations, establish your boundaries, and you’re good to go.
Casual relationships are, well, casual. But that doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook regarding communication. Contrary to popular belief, you need to communicate what you want out of the relationship, even when you’re considering a casual relationship.
Casual relationships mean different things to different people and you’d be best off communicating very clearly about what you want from your casual relationships. “I’m not ready for a commitment” makes a world of difference because you’re letting your date know what to expect from you.
4. Check in often
Now, that’s the tricky thing about casual relationships. When you’re open and honest about your expectations and you communicate your needs and wants to your partner right away, you expect them to be okay with that for weeks and months to come.
With casual relationships, though, you need to realize that things change over time. You’ll need to remind your partner of your boundaries now and then. Make sure that the two of you aren’t catching feelings for each other, changing your expectations of each other, or even changing your mind.
5. Make safety a priority
What do we mean by that? Whether you’re in a casual relationship, a friends-with-benefits scheme, or a situationship, you need to make your safety a priority.
Maybe you contact your friends and family before a date to let them know what you’re doing and where you’re going. Maybe you say no when your date offers to pick you up or drop you off at your apartment. Whatever you do, make sure you’re safe because you’re going on dates with people you don’t know.
6. Stay true to yourself
When you start getting that feeling that you’re doing something wrong or that you’re falling for your partner even after you agreed on a no-strings-attached approach, be honest with yourself.
Sometimes, it’s tempting to agree to a situation you’re not comfortable with because you think you can change the outcome of your relationship. Or you think you’re better off taking whatever your date’s offering because you’re catching feelings.
Compromising your standards, expectations, and boundaries isn’t sustainable, and that’s why you’re better off staying true to yourself.
Is a casual relationship right for you?
If you’re wondering if casual dating is the right choice for you, it’s important to assess exactly what you’re looking for at this point in your life.
It’s normal to wonder whether you’re ready for a serious relationship or a casual relationship, depending on your current relationship goals and personal preferences. If you feel like you want to take things slow, keep your options open, and have fun, a casual relationship might be the thing for you.
If you know in your heart that you’re looking for a serious relationship, someone to spend your Friday nights with, and someone to plan a future with, you might be barking up the wrong tree. We can all agree that there’s nothing wrong with taking your time and making the right decision for you.
Either way, we’re rooting for you!