There's Nothing Wrong with Casual Dating - Here's How to Do It Right
Casual Dating often gets a bad rap, being easily tied into reckless or immature behavior or when it’s associated with dating app drama. However, casual dating is an important part of growing up and discovering what you truly want in life. Casual dating allows you to test your compatibility with different types of people, explore your boundaries related to communication, personal space and intimacy and understand what you are truly looking for in a partner.
Casual dating also forces you to put yourself out there and consider how you present yourself to the world. It can be very intimidating to sign up for a dating app, go on a blind date, or agree to meet up for drinks, but all these experiences can be viewed as growing experiences as you learn who you are in a relationship and what you are looking for. Afterall, there is no way to learn these things unless you put yourself out there!
Everyone has at least one terrible first date story, but everyone also has a first date story that led them to meet their current partner. Casual dating requires a lot of perseverance as it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Especially in an age where our options are limitless, it’s important to keep a few rules in mind when it comes to casual dating. Here are a few cardinal rules that you should consider when you are casually dating:
Casual dating doesn't always mean having sex
Keep in mind that when you are casually dating people it does not have to mean that you are casually having sex with them as well. A lot of people are intimidated by the idea of casual dating, because they think that it implies casual sex, but this is not the case. Casual dating is what you want it to be, so if you are not open to casual sex, you don’t have to sleep with the people that you are dating!
As we mentioned before, casual dating is a great way to not only learn what your boundaries are but to also communicate these boundaries to other people. And for you the boundary might be waiting until things are more serious to sleep together. It’s important to be up front about your comfort level with intimacy so that you and your new boo are on the same page and looking for the same thing!
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Doesn't mean polyamory either
Like we just said, casual dating does not mean that you have to sleep with the people you are seeing! If you choose to sleep with some of the people that you are dating, it’s also important to disclose this to everyone. It can feel awkward to talk about sleeping with other people when you are in a new relationship or casually dating someone, but this conversation is an absolute MUST so that everyone is on the same page about safe sex and so that everyone’s boundaries are respected.
Respect is fundamental
Just like any other relationship, it’s important to respect people that you are in casual relationships with. Just because things are not serious, does not mean that you can throw core relationship values (like respect) out of the window. Make sure that you talk about your boundaries with your new partners and that you respect these boundaries. Respect is also related to people’s boundaries with sex. If someone you are casually dating is not interested in hooking up or getting intimate, then you need to respect their choices!
Honesty is key
Again, just because the relationship is casual does not mean that you can throw all relationship fundamentals out of the window! This means that you need to be honest with your partner(s) about your wants and needs in the relationship.
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Set boundaries for yourself
Boundaries are important in every relationship, and something that you should establish even when you are casually dating someone. Remember to take time for yourself in the relationship, focus on self care and maintain relationships with friends and family even when you are dating new people. While this is not always the case, casual relationships can turn into something more serious over time if you and this person find out that you are compatible and into each other. With this in mind, it is important to establish your boundaries early on so that they are respected through the course of the relationship, whether it stays casual or grows into something more serious and long term.
Keep up with prior commitments
Dating can take up a ton of time in your life, especially if you are really putting yourself out there. Taking advantage of being single and meeting a bunch of new people is always fun, but it’s important not to forget about your inner circle in the process. Just like it’s important not to totally ditch your friends when you enter a serious relationship, it’s important not to ditch them for casual relationships either. Remember that these friends will be around longer than anyone that you are casually seeing and that your relationships with them should remain a priority. Keeping your friends and loved ones around will also offer you a good perspective on the people that you are dating.
Take time for yourself
Part of setting boundaries for yourself means taking time for self care. When you are newly in the dating scene, it can be easy to get swept into scheduling dates two, three, even four nights a week. And while it can be fun to meet new people, it’s important to not get too caught up in dating! Remember to take time for yourself and focus on things that promote your self care whether that is exercise, meditating, journaling, etc. etc. It’s important not to lose sight of yourself in the dating world and to always remember that validation and feelings of self worth are internal and not something that a dinner date can address. Too often people turn to dating to feel desired and boost feelings of self worth. And while this may work in the short term, it is not a long term solution. Casual dating should be about making a connection to another person, not feeling validated in your own skin!
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