Casual vs. Serious Relationship: What’s the difference?

Published on:
Flingorlove is reader supported. When you purchase through referral links on our site, we may earn a commission.. Learn more
Casual vs. Serious Relationship: What’s the difference?

There are many relationship labels nowadays. We hear phrases like “casual dating” and “serious relationship” all the time.

If you’ve been dating someone you really like for a while, it’s normal to wonder where the relationship is heading. And that’s where the question, “Where is this going?” comes up.

Sometimes it’s not always easy to tell how serious a relationship is, especially when both of you have not clearly stated what it is. 

So, what is casual dating? What is a serious relationship? Are there any differences between the two? Casual vs. serious relationships: which one is better than the other? This is what this article is about: helping you understand these two dating terms.

Let’s start by deciphering what each type of relationship stands for.

What is casual dating?

Casual dating is a physical and emotional relationship between people who go on dates with no intention of the relationship developing into something serious.

In the most basic sense, people who usually date casually hang out and enjoy each other’s company, but they are not ready for a commitment in any way or are just not interested in one.

Additionally, casual dating might involve only two people, meaning they won’t be seeing other people. So, the relationship is exclusive but not serious. In other situations, the people involved are free to date several people and pursue other options at the same time.

In short, the point of casual dating is there are no expectations or commitments between the people involved.

Reasons for dating casually 

There are various reasons for preferring this type of arrangement. For example, maybe you just separated from a long-term partner recently or just got divorced, and you’re not interested in or ready for another serious relationship at the moment. Or you are just not interested in a monogamous relationship. Or maybe you don’t want to be a part of any emotional relationship that comes with a high level of commitment.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand that casual dating is just that—casual.

Benefits of casual dating

  • You can still get to take part in the dating game on your terms and rules.
  • You can date multiple people at once.
  • You can emotionally connect with someone while maintaining your independence.
  • You can discover a lot about yourself and what you need in a relationship.
  • You can have a lot of fun.
  • It gives you extra time and space to focus on yourself and your personal growth.
  • You can get all the sex you want with no emotions involved.

Cons of casual dating 

  • You may develop feelings for the other person, and they may not feel the same way. 
  • The other person involved may also catch romantic feelings for you, and you may not feel the same way.
  • Lack of boundaries.
  • Engaging in sexual activities with multiple people might expose you to sexually transmitted infections.
  • One of you may be jealous of the non-exclusivity of the relationship.
Casual or Serious Relationship
Casual vs. Serious Relationship

What is a serious relationship? 

What defines a serious relationship?

A serious relationship is a type of relationship where the people involved are committed to each other and are working towards a future together. 

A serious relationship involves four main elements:

  • Commitment: Both of you have decided to be with each other and are willing to work towards making the relationship successful.
  • Communication: You can have open and honest conversations about feelings, expectations, and needs.
  • Effort: Both of you try to spend time together and do things that can strengthen your bond.
  • Trust: You must be willing to be vulnerable with each other and comfortably share your thoughts and feelings without the fear of being judged.

A serious relationship might differ for different people, but one thing is common: you’re both in it for the long haul.

When should you be in a serious relationship?

Honestly, there is no age limit, time limit, or milestone that you need to achieve to clarify when you should have a serious relationship. It’s all up to you and whether you’re ready for it.

How do you know you are ready for a serious relationship?

  • You’re ready to commit to one person.
  • You’re happy with yourself.
  • You know what you want from a partner.
  • You are willing to take that risk.
  • You’ve sorted your issues.
  • You’re not under pressure from your partner, family, or friends to settle down.
  • You no longer make excuses that will prevent you from going after what you want.

The difference between casual dating vs serious relationship

The lines between casual dating and a serious relationship can become blurred. So let’s look at the differences between the two.

Casual datingSerious relationship
There is no meaningful connection.The people involved want to know each other on a deeper level.
No long-term or future plans.The relationship builds towards something, and you both see a future together.
Partners can date multiple people.There’s exclusivity between partners.
Poor communication between partners. The conversations are mostly surface-level.There’s excellent communication. Partners can talk about anything.
You are not on each other’s priority lists. Only meet up when it’s convenient.Both of you make time to see each other and spend time together. You prioritize each other in the short and long terms.
There is no intention of making the relationship last.You are committed to the health and success of the relationship.
No labels are used.You call each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.”
It’s often about sex and having fun.As much as sex is important in a serious relationship, it’s not necessarily essential.

Which one is better: casual dating or a serious relationship?

It all depends on you and what you want. 

  • Are you seeing other people?
  • Are you willing to be with just one person?
  • How do you feel about being committed to a person? Is it fulfilling or suffocating?
  • Do you want something long-term or short-term?

These are some questions you can ask yourself to determine what kind of arrangement works best for you.

If the idea of being with just one person doesn’t seem ideal to you and you want to continue seeing other people or you don’t want any commitment or anything long-term at the moment, then by all means, explore casual dating.

Casual dating often gets a bad rep because some think it’s reckless and immature behavior. But it’s part of the dating game, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Actually, in some cases, it can lead to serious dating, as long as both parties want it.

Now, if you like the idea of being committed to someone, want to be with them for the long haul, and have done all the self-work required to accommodate someone else in your life, a serious relationship might be right for you.

A couple decided to take their relationship seriously
A couple decided to take their relationship seriously

Wrapping up

In the dating world, both casual dating and serious relationships have their place. 

In casual dating, you’re having fun since you have someone to have a good time with. However, you’re not interested in growing a deeper connection with the person. And that is still fine, as long as there’s communication, respect, honesty, boundaries, and open communication between both parties. 

On the other hand, a serious relationship involves commitment, love, trust, mutual respect, compromise, honesty, good communication, affection or intimacy, patience, and understanding. To some, it’s overwhelming, but it’s worth a shot.

The best thing about both relationship statuses is that you continue to learn about yourself.

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.