A Casual Long-Distance Relationship: Can You Have One?

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A Casual Long-Distance Relationship

Being in a long-distance relationship takes work. I’ve been in one, and sometimes I would miss him too much and hop on the next bus to his destination. 

Of course, my actions would have consequences like missing classes (I was in uni at the time) or even CATs (continuous assessment tests).

And though I would copy notes from friends and nag my lecturers for a CAT re-sit, I wouldn’t advise anyone to follow my path.

I was lucky that my long-distance relationship survived; after school, we moved in together. But mine was a serious relationship from the start, not something casual.

So, Can You Have a Casual Long Distance Relationship?

Yes, you can. 

My best friend met a guy in a restaurant, and after talking for a while, she learned the guy was from a different city (a four-hour drive) and had just visited for work.

Coincidentally, both were from previous serious relationships and were still figuring out complicated issues in their personal lives. 

As such, they weren’t ready for a serious relationship but were open to a casual one. And after the talk, they decided to give it a try. 

They’ve been in a casual long-distance relationship for a year and somehow found ways to make it work.

However, the guy is often in my friend’s town (twice a month) for work, which I believe has impacted the success of their relationship.

How often you see each other affects your relationship. Even if my friend’s relationship progressed to something serious, I believe there’s a chance the relationship would survive. 

Imagine if they saw each other once every two months; there’s a huge chance the relationship would have ended a long time ago. 

Nobody wants to go through that much trouble for a casual arrangement. You would rather make all those sacrifices in a serious relationship. 

Another thing was that the two wanted the same thing in a relationship.

Based on the intensity of their previous relationships, they both wanted a casual relationship, which means less commitment. 

A girl looking happy while reading her boyfriends message
A girl looking happy while reading her boyfriend’s message

But if one wanted something more, I doubt they would have survived this long. A casual long-distance relationship can only survive if you’re both genuine and want something casual.

Having the Same Goals

Even if one party convinces the other to try it, the relationship will likely fail because, at some point, the other person’s feelings will catch up with the relationship.

And not just wanting the same things, but ensuring you are on the same page.

You also should be on the same page for your casual long-distance relationship at work. 

In my friend’s case, they didn’t have a hard time with this because their main goal was to deal with personal issues from past relationships. 

You might not have the same goals, but you should be on the same page. What I mean is that one party should not have a different idea of the dynamics of your relationship from the other. 

Hence the need to be honest. 

The Need for Honesty

Honesty and genuineness about your feelings are the only things that can save any relationship. Casual long-distance relationships are no exception. They need honesty more so that you’re all on the same page. 

In my friend’s case, the two were open from the start about their experience, wants, and intentions. 

If any of them had lied, it could have resulted in complications that would have jeopardized their relationship. 

Be honest from the start, and if anything changes during your relationship, be honest about it. 

You also should be clear about the dynamics of your relationship.

A man using phone to videocall his girlfriend
A guy calling his girlfriend

There’s a whole spectrum of relationships. So your casual relationship doesn’t have to be the same as other relationships. 

Focus on what works best for both of you. Have the exclusive talk. Speak about your expectations and level of commitment in the relationship.

Even if it’s a casual relationship, there is a certain degree of commitment, so make sure you talk about it. 

Don’t assume you both understand the definition of a casual relationship. In today’s world, you could have a casually exclusive or open relationship—or almost anything you set your relationship to be. 

You also need rules, which means if you’re exclusive, you can’t engage with someone else sexually or in any other way.

Another important thing is to talk about your future wants and expectations—not necessarily the future of your relationship but your personal relationship goals.

For example, are you open to the idea of a serious relationship? I say this because while you might be in a casual relationship, you might be looking for something serious, which means you’ll get out of the casual arrangement as soon as you find what you want. 

Of course, this affects the other person, hence the need to communicate, so they’re somehow prepared when it happens. 

Honestly, being in a long-distance relationship is not easy, let alone a casual one. 

The distance makes it harder, especially since the essence of something casual is to enjoy dating with little to no commitment. 

Casual relationships are supposed to be easy and make life easier, and there is nothing easier than having to see your casual partner once or twice a month. If anything, you should see them as often as you wish. 

But sometimes, you work with what you have, and I’ve seen my friend make it a reality. Though casual relationships are meant to be easy, you can’t have it “easy or smooth” with just anyone. 

People won’t admit it, but there are always feelings involved. That’s why it’s a relationship, not a hookup or fling. 

As such, you can only have such a relationship with someone you are compatible with; only then will it be “smooth” and hopefully successful. 

Can a Casual Long Distance Relationship Lead to Something Serious?

Can a Casual Long Distance Relationship Lead to Something Serious

Yes, like other casual relationships, a casual long-distance relationship can lead to a serious relationship. 

However, not all casual long-distance relationships end in long-term relationships or marriage. Most of them end at an early stage.

The Role of Rules in Casual Long-Distance Relationships

As I said, factors like the frequency of your meetups determine the success of your relationship. Even the distance itself plays a huge role in how often you meet. 

That’s why a casual long-distance relationship where the distance is a three-hour drive has a higher chance of survival than one with an eight-hour drive distance.

And most of these factors were in favor of my friend’s relationship. The guy would often visit for work. But of course, they would arrange other meetups apart from this, but that helped. 

Again, I think a casual long-distance relationship can lead to something serious if there is a likelihood of living in the same place in the future. 

For example, though my relationship was serious from the start, I was in school, and there was the probability of being permanently together in the future (which happened) after school.

In the same way, if there is such a probability in a casual long-distance relationship, it increases the chances for it to survive. 

But again, it narrows down to whether the parties involved would want that in the future. I mean, some people never want to settle down at any point in their lives. 

For such individuals, casual relationships, whether long-distance or not, remain casual. They may change their minds in the future, but often their decision impacts their actions, which means they are likely to avoid serious relationships at any cost. 

When a casual long-distance relationship may become a serious relationship

Long distance couple meeting for the first time
Long distance couple meeting for the first time
  • When more feelings are involved: In casual relationships, feelings are often less intense than in serious relationships. But though most people ignore this, feelings become stronger with time, depending on the dynamics of the relationship. You don’t expect to have “casual feelings” for someone you see daily and spend quality time together. 
  • When parties involved are open to the idea of a serious relationship: You might want something casual now but are open to a serious relationship in the future. This means you won’t suppress your feelings to avoid a serious relationship. Some serious relationships started as casual, then partners realized they were more compatible and because they were open to settling down, they decided why not. 
  • When the relationship dynamics follow the traditional approach: You can have a casual long-distance relationship that takes the conventional dating approach. This means you can be exclusive, have expectations, or even commit to each other. Such dynamics are often found in serious relationships, so if you agree to them in your casual long-distance relationship, you don’t mind being serious. Besides, such dynamics create a stronger irresistible bond that may make you allow the possibility of getting serious. 
  • When there is the possibility of being in the same local vicinity in the future: Some people get in casual long-distance relationships knowing it will only be long distance for some time because of the possibility of being together in the future. And when they move closer, their relationship can lead to something serious. 

How Long Should I Be in a Casual Long-Distance Relationship?

As long as you are comfortable being in one. There isn’t a hard-and-fast rule on how long you should be in a casual long-distance relationship. 

But often, the longer it lasts, the greater the likelihood of it being serious because it means there is more compatibility and your bond strengthens. 

Why else would you be together for two years? Sticking together that long means you enjoy each other’s company and don’t mind being together. 

In most cases, casual relationships last for a few months, and casual long-distance ones are even shorter than that. You can’t be traveling for hours or even a day to see someone you have “casual feelings” for. 

Honestly, it’s not worth it, especially if you’re certain it can never move past casual. 

Is a Casual Long Distance Relationship Worth it?

A man thinking about his long-distance girlfriend if its worth it
A man thinking about his long-distance girlfriend if its worth it

If it’s only casual and bound to remain that way forever, I would say it’s not worth it. Unless you have a special connection that you feel you can’t find anywhere, it might be worth it. 

After all, if you can find such a relationship locally, why waste your time, energy, and money going for it that far

A casual long distance is also worth it if it is possible to have more than “casual.” I mean, if you both see the possibility of being more serious in the future, you can give it a chance. 

You might also pursue it if you are sure you will be in the same local vicinity after a shorter duration. So even if it can never be serious, you will be closer and pursue it as a casual relationship, not stop being in a casual long-distance relationship.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been in a long-distance relationship that luckily turned into something beautiful. As such, I don’t discourage long-distance relationships because I believe in them. 

And in the same way, even casual long-distance relationships stand a chance of becoming something more so long as partners are always on the same page. 

But again, I would be wrong to assume that all long-distance relationships end well because we know most don’t survive long. 

Depending on the dynamics of your relationship, you are in a better position to weigh the potential of your relationship. So do your evaluation and decide if it’s worth it or not. 

And if you decide to pursue it, I hope it turns out to be a beautiful love story. 

All the best!

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.