Of all relationships to have unspoken standards and seemingly endless nuances, dating relationships take the cake. From “will they, won’t they” to “should they, shouldn’t they,” there are so many questions and perplexing moments when it comes to the dating game. One of those questions might be “What does casual dating mean, and how do I know if I’m into something casual or serious?”
If you’ve ever found yourself in the gray area of “is this serious, or is this casual?,” this article is for you. You’ll learn about the differences between casual dating vs. serious dating so that you’re better prepared for any type of relationship that comes your way. Understanding dating can be hard, but we’re here to help.
What is the difference between casual dating and a serious relationship?
The main differences between casual dating vs. a serious relationship are exclusivity and the level of commitment. While it’s not always clear cut, casual relationships might not involve monogamy, while serious relationships often do. Also, if you’re dating casually, you’re probably not as committed to the other person as you would be to a serious partner.
Read on to uncover more specifics about casual dating vs. serious dating so you know what to expect.
What is casual dating? Most often it means not being tied to one person. While this can definitely be the case with serious relationships, monogamy is more common. Casual dating usually means that both people are open to seeing and being physically intimate with other people. It’s often about keeping your options open and not putting a name on the relationship.
Casual relationships are, well, just that—casual. People often decide to date casually because they don’t want commitment at this point in their dating life. There’s a lack of “formality” with how you treat the relationship.
While you can—and probably do—still care about your casual partner, casual relationships are usually marked by a lack of prioritization of the other person. In a serious relationship, you’re considering the needs of your partner and fitting your lives around each other. You’re committed to putting in the work to understand your partner, with the goal of seeing where the relationship might lead in the future.
Another main difference between casual dating vs. serious dating is that casual relationships are more for the here and now, not for the future. Long-term planning isn’t common for casual dating because the future interest might not be there. Planning for down the road indicates that you see this person fitting into your life, meaning that it could be a serious romantic situation.
Deal breakers always should be paid attention to in serious relationships, but casual dating usually doesn’t involve the depth of communication and alignment that serious dating does. This is a big difference between casual dating vs. a serious relationship: Your goals and priorities are still only yours to think about. Your casual partner probably doesn’t play a serious role in your life, so your deal breakers might not be as important for this relationship.
How often you see each other
If you see your love interest frequently and find yourself making more and more time for them, you’re probably in or heading toward a serious relationship. Casual relationships are less likely to include vast amounts of time seeing each other. Because of the commitment and long-term thinking involved, serious relationships often require you to see each more often—whether in person or virtually.
Expectations with casual dating vs. serious dating can be vastly different. Casual relationships might have zero expectations for how often you’re seeing each other, physical intimacy with other people, commitment, and so on. On the other hand, serious relationships can often have high (and sometimes strict) expectations for all of these areas.
It’s important to communicate with your partner about both of your expectations for the relationship to be sure that you’re on the same page. Even though casual dating might not have “rules,” it’s still helpful to set the expectation that the relationship will be casual.
How has modern dating changed?
Dating changes throughout the years depending on social and cultural shifts and technology. So it’s no surprise that it’s changed over the last 5, 10, and 20 years! With the bloom of online dating comes some serious changes to the dating game.
Online dating is a crucial tool for meeting people. You can widen your geographic zone, meet people you otherwise wouldn’t just out and about, and get to know people with vastly different interests than yours. It’s a beautiful, wide world of incredible modern dating opportunities.
Some dating apps are known for finding casual hookups, while others just make casual dating more possible than before, with the opportunity to talk to or see multiple people at once. If you’re looking for something serious, dating apps can still provide a way to meet your future person, but they can also lead to dating fatigue. You should also consider online matchmaking sites, like Tawkify, to get the best chance of relationship success.
Casual vs. serious relationship: What’s best?
Choosing between casual dating vs. a serious relationship is your choice. It all depends on your goals for dating. Are you looking for casual sex without any expectations or perhaps just don’t want to be tied down to one person at once? Or is your end goal to find your lifelong partner with whom you share common interests and priorities? No matter what, it’s important to be happy with yourself before dating seriously. When you prioritize your mental and emotional health, you’ll be more ready to tackle the nuances of dating with grace and ease.
There is no “best” way to date. Just make sure to keep the communication flowing between you and the other person so that you’re in tune with how the other person views the relationship. Casual dating vs. serious dating has many differences and nuances—choose how to date based on your needs and goals.