Exploring the True Meaning of “Dating Around”!

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Dating Around: Meaning, Implications, & Tips

If you ask around, people define “dating around” differently. But it narrows down to one thing:

You’re engaging with different people, but you haven’t settled on any yet. Note: Engaging doesn’t mean being intimate. It can be as basic as going on dates or just talking. 

People date for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s thrilling, while others can’t explain how they got to engage multiple people at once. 

Read on to learn what “dating around” means‌, and it may surprise you to find out you’ve probably tried it before!

You’ll also learn how dating around differs from sleeping around, whether it’s healthy, and why people do it.

Let’s get started!

What Does Dating Around Mean?

If you meet someone, you get attracted and go out on a date; it’s normal to remain in touch or even meet a second time.

It’s not like you are engaged, so you meet another person and do the same. This can continue, and you will find yourself engaging non-exclusively with three or four people.

What you do with these people may be different. For example, you might meet more with some while texting more (daily) with others. 

You might also get intimate with one or two of them—something as basic as holding hands in public or as deep as sleeping with them. 

The bottom line here is, you’ve not settled on either of them. And they, too, have not defined whatever you have. 

A couple dating around
A couple dating around

You are just having a good time engaging with others without commitment and are not looking for something serious.

And even if you’re open to settling down, you’re still looking for the right person, so you’re still a free bird. 

That is dating around. It might not fit this exact description, but if it relates to this, you are dating around. 

Having a romantic partner instead of a hookup can also be a form of “dating around.” For example, guys often have a girlfriend for a few months and then have a new one after the relationship ends. 

But ladies can do it too; they also date multiple people but don’t intend to do it at first. 

Simply put, “dating around” means talking to and going out on dates with multiple people at once, and you have picked none yet.

It might also mean having a romantic partner for a few months (two or three) and a new one after. 

We can’t call this a relationship because there was never any intention of a long-term commitment. So instead of sleeping with someone you won’t remember their last name in the morning, you prefer to “date” one person at a time. 

So, is it the same as casual dating? Let’s find out.

Dating around vs. casual dating 

Dating around and casual dating are similar in that:

  • They involve dating multiple people at the same time
  • There is often no commitment in both
  • There is the aspect of non-exclusivity 

However, they don’t mean the same thing. While dating around means engaging several people but not settling on any, casual dating means a romantic relationship with less commitment and less emotional attachment. 

Besides, there is usually no intention of a long-term commitment when you’re casually dating. The parties involved know whatever they have can never progress, as in traditional dating. 

The main difference between these two is that, often, there is no agreement between parties to date around. Parties involved assume they are in the “getting to know each other” phase. 

As such, the relationship is not yet defined. Parties in casual dating have defined their relationship and may even set rules.

So while a casual relationship may not progress along the traditional relationship path, if the person dating around settles on one of their dates, there is a chance for a conventional relationship

Does Dating Around Mean Sleeping Around?

Does Dating Around Mean Sleeping Around
Does Dating Around Mean Sleeping Around

No. Dating around entails entertaining a variety of people while determining which are compatible with you. 

On the other hand, sleeping around means having sex with multiple random people. It can be someone you just met and started flirting on Tinder with, or a hookup from a party. 

When someone is sleeping around, they intend to have casual sex from the get-go. And though people dating around may sleep with their dates, it’s usually not planned. 

I mean, such moments often happen naturally, maybe because of compatibility. 

The Difference Between Dating Around and Sleeping Around

Here are some of the differences between sleeping and dating around.

The main goal of sleeping around is casual sex, while with dating around, parties want to learn about each other

People sleeping around intend on having as much sex as possible. In dating around, parties involved are in the getting-to-know-each-other phase.

As such, the main goal is to learn more about each other while spending time together or engaging on the phone. 

Often, sleeping around involves random people while people dating around know a little about each other

It’s not surprising to wake up next to a stranger when you can’t remember their name from the night before. It seems like that’s where the fun lies. I’m not saying it’s healthy or safe, but I know it happens.

In dating around, people know a little about each other. Often, parties engage a lot, and if they are honest about their identities, each has background information about the other. 

With dating around, you enjoy being around someone, while with sleeping around, you flow with the spur of the moment.

You can’t engage someone you don’t want to be around. Therefore, people dating around enjoy being around the other person.

Since you don’t know much about your hookup when you’re sleeping around, all you want is to enjoy being in the moment. 

Reasons People Date Around

While some people find it thrilling to date around, others do it hoping to find their perfect match. 

Some find themselves entangled with two or three different people they didn’t intend to date around. 

Some people “date around” for the thrill of it

To some, it’s thrilling to have multiple people craving your attention and giving you theirs.

As such, they date around to get attention. There are also nice treats that come with the package.

Going on dates in beautiful places, for example, is desirable, especially if you are not spending any money. 

While some “date around” looking for their soulmate

Your soulmate won’t land on your doorstep as you sit around watching TV in your house. This is the slogan for those dating around, hoping to meet their soulmate. 

And since there is some truth in this, they hope that while sampling a few people in the dating pool, they will meet the right person.

I know some have, so they may be right to try this. 

A guy thinking when he will be able to meet his soulmate
A guy thinking when he will be able to meet his soulmate

Some find themselves in the situation

My friend found herself entangled with two guys, this is what happened;

She met Guy No. 1 in November, and after two weeks of texting, she went on a date with him. According to her, everything was perfect, and they went on several other dates that month. 

Sadly, the guy ghosted her for the whole of December, and she didn’t know why. Her assumption was that he didn’t like her anymore, so she moved on.

She met Guy No. 2 in a restaurant, and after weeks of chatting, they started going out and spending time together. This was in January, and since Guy No. 1 was nowhere to be seen, she decided, why not?

Fortunately (or not), Guy No. 1 started texting and calling out of the blue. This was at the beginning of February. He must have been her charm because they picked up where they had left off after two weeks of talking.

Long story short, she has been going out with the two guys, and though they have not defined their relationship, she admits to enjoying both as company.

Like my friend, you can innocently find yourself engaging multiple people at the same time. And since you are not engaged to any of them, it’s not like you are being unfaithful or betraying anybody. 

Is Dating Around Healthy?

Yes, dating around is healthy as long as you are cautious. Here is why:

It gives a basis for comparison

Imagine if you married the first person you had a serious relationship with and it didn’t work out. I’m not saying marrying your first serious partner is bad, but if we are being honest, you don’t have any basis for comparison.

I mean, you can’t tell if your relationship demands the right amount of work or if you are putting in too much effort because you are not compatible with your partner. 

Dating around allows you to figure out who you are compatible with so that you don’t exhaust yourself trying to make things work. 

It’s like a driving test for different cars on the market. So as you drive, you know which car would suit you best. 

You figure out the qualities you prefer in a partner

As you interact and learn about your dates, you get an idea of your preferred qualities in a partner. 

You can’t be sure about something until you try it out. Think about your favorite meal. You had to try several others before deciding what you liked most. 

Until you have a taste of everything, you can’t say what you like best. 

You might meet your soulmate along the way

You only meet the right person when you put yourself out there. You can’t sit at home and wait for them to show up. 

Most people meet their perfect match along the way. You meet different people, give them an equal chance, get to know them, and pick a compatible partner. 

A woman able to meet her soulmate after dating around
A woman able to meet her soulmate after dating around

Dating around clarifies deal breakers

Similarly, you learn your ideal qualities in a soulmate; you also learn deal breakers. You’re also surprised that you like qualities you didn’t think you liked. 

Dating gives you an idea of what to expect from someone and how much effort they should put into you. I mean, if someone is asking about your day every day, why should you settle for someone who texts you once a week?

You learn what constitutes acceptable effort, the bare minimum, and the best possible treatment. 

Generally, dating around is a learning experience

You learn so much about your dates, giving you an overall insight into others. We all know relationships require work, and you realize this from experience. 

Even showing up on a date is an effort. I mean, if you prefer chilling in your pajamas and binge-watching, but you forgo it and go out, you’ve outdone yourself. 

You also learn to compromise and accommodate others in your life. Simply put, it’s a learning experience that should shed more light on you and others. 

However, Dating Around Can Be Unhealthy 

If you are not careful, dating around can be unhealthy because:

You might expose yourself to emotional problems

This is true if you get attached to the wrong person too soon. Remember, your date might feign their personality and lure you to achieve their selfish goals.

Not everyone is genuine about their intentions, so be careful as you date around. 

There are health concerns, especially if you’re intimate with your dates

You may not be sleeping, but that does not preclude you from experiencing a natural spur of the moment. This can happen if you start falling for someone and start spending more time in private. 

Well, while it’s not wrong to have an occasional spur once in a while, be careful, as you might expose yourself to STIs or even HIV if you are careless. 

Trust me, it’s so easy to find yourself careless, especially when falling in love. So though it goes without saying to be careful, I can’t help but insist. 

You might get too comfortable dating around 

As absurd as it may sound, I have heard of such cases. Somebody gets too comfortable dating around, and it progresses to sleeping around, and they can’t commit to one person. 

Casual relationships are not bad, but it gets serious if they can permanently change you and affect your lifestyle. 

Some people get caught up in the thrill, and before they know it, it’s no longer dating around. I say this because the intention of dating around is not to play with people’s feelings but rather to get to know them and decide if you are compatible. 

So when all you want is to date around without settling down and can’t commit to anyone but yourself, the whole thing gets out of control.

Final Words

Dating around should mean engaging with multiple people at once in the process of finding someone you are most compatible with. 

So you meet five or even seven people, go out on dates, choose four to go on a second date with, and settle on two to learn about them.

You engage the two for some time, settle on one, and give it a try. And if you don’t find any of them compatible, you start again. 

That’s it, so feel free to date around as you look for your perfect match.

Good luck!

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.