Can Casual Dating Become Serious? Are You Wasting Your Time?

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Can Casual Dating Become Serious

Looking for love is a laborious task. Not many people want to settle down so quickly. They want to take their time, have some fun and see their options. 

That’s where casual dating comes in. It can be short and fruitful, like Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston. Or you may find your soulmates like Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo.

So, how long should you date someone casually? Are there any rules about it in the dating textbook? Can casual dating become serious? 

This article will answer all your burning questions regarding casual dating.

What Does Casual Dating Really Mean?

First, let’s delve into what exactly is casual dating.

It refers to a fun relationship where there’s no urgency or many rules. You don’t have to meet every weekend or offer a commitment. 

It’s an enjoyable way to gauge chemistry with someone and see if they can be a viable partner.

Casual dating may be the first step to a romantic relationship. Initially, you don’t need to put labels on it. Some say it’s a way of socializing without offering inclusivity.

A study says 82% of men and 57% of women like to casually date before they begin a relationship. 

Walking together after a coffee date
Walking together after a coffee date.

Terms Variation

Casual dating is used interchangeably with many other terms. You must’ve heard of flings, casual sex, hooking up, and friends with benefits. 

So, how different are these terms from each other? Let’s find out.

Casual Dating

As we mentioned before, casual dating doesn’t have any labels. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have to be romantic at the start. It doesn’t have to be sexual, but it can be.

You can get to know each other better and enjoy someone’s company. That can help you determine if you want to start a relationship with them.

However, being attracted to the person in some way is usually the baseline.

Something made you draw towards that person. It can be their looks, personality, same interests, same background, or anything.

Exploring the avenue more with them will help you understand if the attraction is worth pursuing. 

Friends with Benefits

Couple have intimacy on bed
Couple have intimacy on bed.

You can guess from the word “benefit” that friends with benefits usually involve some sexual favors. It’s a more extended arrangement. 

You don’t have to commit to them or remain exclusive. Emotional involvement isn’t a part of it. Apart from the bedroom activities, your relationship is very platonic. 

You don’t have to go out on dates or make romantic plans with each other. 

However, going back from friends with benefits to just friends can be challenging.

Hooking Up

Fling, hooking up, and one-night stands signify the same thing: an intimate encounter. Usually, such relationships are for one time only.

They can all be a precursor to casual dating. Whether you’re having sex during casual dating or not is up to you.

The bottom line is that lack of attachment means you’re casually dating.

What to Expect?

If you’re thinking of casually dating someone, here are some things that’ll be a part of it.

What to Expect from Casual Dating

No Labels

You won’t be calling them your partner, girlfriend, or boyfriend. 

It’s just a series of casual meet-ups that may lead to officially dating.

No Long-Term Plans

There’s no urgency to make long-term plans. Just go with the flow. There’s no pressure. 

Ask them to meet over text if you’re up for it. You don’t have to decide at the same meetup.

Surface-Level Conversation

Don’t expect some deep thoughts when you’re conversing with them.

It just involves skimming the basic details, like what you do or where you’re from. 

Less Responsibility

You aren’t responsible for any sexual pleasure. Yes, it’s ethical to make sure the other person is comfortable in your company. That goes without saying in any relationship. 

However, you don’t have to do anything beyond that. Planning something special according to their preference isn’t needed. 

Specific books for men and women are available for your help if you’re traversing the casual dating landscape.

Can Casual Hookups Turn Into Relationships?

Lovebirds cuddling and standing in the street
Lovebirds cuddling and standing in the street.

So if you’re casually hooking up, you might wonder if it can lead to a relationship. 

Yes, it definitely can. You can take a page out of Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher’s book. Both starred in “casual sex” themed rom-coms. They decided to try it and ended up getting married. 

Helen Fisher, Ph.D., a biological anthropologist, says people engage in casual sex hoping to get a serious commitment out of it. It’s less work while getting to know the other person, and you can enjoy it without a slow burn.

However, it’s not carved in stone. Whether or not casual hookups turn serious is up to you.

Are you both enjoying the relationship? Do you wish to be more involved with each other? It’ll all depend on whether you’re ready to commit to it more seriously and exclusively. 

Even in a “friends with benefits” scenario, your friend can turn into your partner.

How Long Do You Have to Be Dating to Be Considered Serious?

The next question is usually, after how much time can the relationship be considered serious?

While talking to Business Insider, Claire Stott, a relationship psychologist, says it’s completely subjective.

If you’re both feeling an intense connection after just a couple of dates, you can make it official. 

Putting a time frame on it isn’t possible. You might be going on two dates a week; that’ll make eight dates a month. Or if you’re going three or four, the number will rise to twelve or sixteen.

Saying that two months is enough to be labeled serious would be wrong. It all depends on the frequency of your meetups.

What if you are the only one thinking of making it official? You don’t know what your partner is feeling. Deciding whether to broach the subject or not can be tricky. 

First, you can wait to see if your partner slips up and says we’re dating or introduces you to their inner circle. 

Otherwise, Stott says two months is a safe time to discuss labels. But again, there is no correct answer. Only your experience and your relationship can define that.

8 Signs a Casual Relationship Is Becoming Serious

Knowing when you’re “officially” dating can be a difficult task. Here are some signs you can look out for.

1. Jealousy

Woman gets jealous confronting her partner
Woman gets jealous confronting her partner.

If one party in the relationship gets jealous of seeing them with another romantic prospect, signs are that things are getting serious. 

Even talking to a random person may evoke jealousy and territorial feelings. 

2. Vulnerability

Any party is letting their guard down. You know you can trust them with your emotions. 

3. Future Imagination

You start to wonder what it’ll be like to have a future with them. You imagine a more advanced relationship.

4. Emotional

A woman comforts a man who is crying.
A woman comforts a man who is crying.

If you’re in a physical relationship, it might make you emotional. 

Deeper feelings are invoked by others.

5. Love Confession

Often, the urge to say “I love you” rises within you. Either when you’re in the bedroom or on a date.

6. Attachment

You spend more time with them. They become a more active part of your life, and parting with them is harder.

7. Gifts

Gifts are sentimental tokens. If your partner has started giving gifts to you, chances are the tide is turning. It can be something like a chain necklace or a photo frame.  

man surprises woman with a present
Man surprises woman with a present.

How Often Should You Text Someone You’re Casually Dating?

Texting becomes your main form of communication when you’re not physically meeting. 

Calling too much in a casual relationship is not preferred by many, so the next mode of communication is text. 

So, how many should you send?

2-3 times a week is enough to avoid being clingy or bored. That can sufficiently show that you’re interested in the relationship.

However, there are two things you should keep in mind while texting.

Time Frame

Try to reply to others’ messages within a 48-hour window. Any later than that and you will enter the realm of ghosting.

Replying immediately is a good thing. However, frequent immediate replies tend to show an attachment. It may come across to the other side that you’re glued to your phone in anticipation of the text.

That shouldn’t be a problem if your relationship is progressing very well. 

When to Text?

Woman working at home while texting
Woman working at home while texting.

Text when you know they’re free. If you know enough about each other, try to gauge when they might be busy. Don’t text at that time.

Texting in their free time will earn you a faster reply. You’ll also be respecting their time and schedule. 

Why Do Guys Want Casual Relationships?

It’s a common conception that guys prefer casual relationships more than girls.

Why is that? 

Most guys are attracted to women due to their physical attributes first. Liking their personality or associating emotions with them comes later.

That delays commitment, which is the key feature of a causal relationship—no early commitment. 

Another noteworthy thing is that males tend to hide their emotions. It’s the way most men are raised. Anything requiring them to show their feelings is complicated. That’s why commitment scares them.

There’s also peer pressure among guys. Boys tend to tease their friends if they show emotions. This social stigma delays emotional expression in them.

Casual dating allows them to explore many options without having to express much.

Even if things don’t work out, many guys end up ghosting, and very few have ‘the talk’ because that would require sensitivity and emotions.

However, this might not be true for all of them. Some may have had bad experiences in the past. Also, some girls tend to prefer casual dating too, for similar reasons.

What Are the Effects of Casual Dating on Mental Health?

Casual dating has both positive and negative effects on a person’s mental health. On the one hand, it can be pretty freeing, while on the other, it’s uncertain.

Let’s see how that impacts mental health—first, the positives.

Less Pressure

It allows you to explore options freely, without any pressure. When you’re casually dating, there’s no urgency to find a partner.

You’re taking the relationship one day at a time. That can be liberating as opposed to constantly looking.

Confidence Boost

The lack of pressure to commit to your partner gives you time for yourself. 

That can improve your self-esteem and give you a confidence boost. In an official relationship, efforts are divided between you and your partner. 

Now let’s move on to the negative aspects.

There’s also the intimate aspect of casual dating. Research focuses more specifically on casual sex as opposed to casual dating.

Low Self-Esteem

According to research, casual sex without establishing an emotional connection can cause low self-esteem.

In the long run, you start to wonder if the person is interested in you just because of a physical connection. 


Depressed woman in the room
Depressed woman in the room.

The lack of a deeper connection can make a person lonely despite having company. That can lead to depression. 

Stress & Anxiety

Casual dating is uncertain. Uncertainty can cause some people to be stressed or anxious about their future.

It’s a slow progression, and not many enjoy the slow burn. If you’re using dating apps to find casual dates, that can also cause stress when picking the right one.

It all depends on the person and circumstances. People have unique experiences, so it’s not necessary that everyone feels the same effects.

How Long Should Casual Dating Last?

We have discussed how soon casual dating can be labeled as serious. But how long should you continue if things are uncertain?

An average estimate is that people date for three to six months until they decide the outcome.

It can either lead to starting a relationship or breaking it off.

But if you’re interested in keeping a relationship, you don’t need to wait three to six months to seal the deal.

Try to understand what your partner wants. Make sure they’re on the same page.

You can also break it off early if you want. Respect your boundaries, and don’t force yourself to continue if you don’t want to.

There is no hard and fast rule as to when it should last.


Casual dating may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some people may relish its freedom, while others may get anxious.

Even if it’s light and breezy, you have to be mindful of your partner’s comfort. 

Remember to stay safe, respect each other’s boundaries, and communicate honestly. Who knows? You might even find your better half this way!

Photo of author


Over the years, Stephanie has had her fair share of dating experiences. While some turned out great, others weren't so great. She believes that relationships are meant to be fun, exciting, and full of laughter. She wants to help men and women become confident, attractive, and successful in their romantic relationships.