Short-Term Dating Meaning: Understanding the Definition and Differences

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Short-Term Dating Meaning and Dynamics

We often get into dating, hoping it leads to something long-term. And though sometimes the relationship ends after a few months, that was not the intention.

But some people look for a short-term relationship from the start. They go into the dating pool hoping to find someone who wants to date short-term. 

This article explores the meaning of short-term dating to help you understand these kinds of people and why they do it. 

It also covers the dynamics of a short-term relationship and compares it to long-term dating. You also get some answers relating to short-term dating, so keep reading to learn everything.

Let’s get started!

The meaning of “short-term” dating

Short-term dating means regular dating occurring over a relatively short time. So parties involved proceed as in traditional dating, but for a short duration.

As such, partners can be exclusive and have expectations, but understand their relationship has an expiration date.

It may also involve a different approach from traditional dating, but the constant denominator is the duration. There is usually no intention of pursuing anything longer and more meaningful. 

But don’t get me wrong, a short-term relationship can be serious, just not with the same intensity as a long-term relationship. 

It might also involve less effort because, after all, you are not pursuing anything that leads to a serious commitment. That said, partners will likely abandon the relationship at the first sign of difficulty. 

When there is no intention of something meaningful in the future, there is no difference between quitting now and later because the relationship is bound to end either way. 

This makes it easy to quit instead of fighting to keep the relationship afloat for the next few weeks or months. 

A short-term dating couple kissing beside a subway train
A short-term dating couple kissing beside a subway train

The dynamics of a short-term relationship

Though a short-term relationship may take the approach of traditional dating (exclusivity and expectations), it has different dynamics that make it unique.

Short-term dating implies that partners are not open to long-term dating as a goal. They both know this and are okay with it. This means both parties should be upfront about not looking for something long-term.

If one party deceives the other, they become a player, playing with the other person’s feelings for selfish gains. And this compromises the whole concept of short-term dating, and it becomes one of the players’ games. 

A short-term relationship has a predictable expiration date. Since partners are not pursuing something long-term, sometimes short-term relationships have predictable expiration dates. 

For example, if someone travels to a new country and they don’t want to be lonely, they can find someone in that country and date for the duration they will be there. So if they are using a dating site to find a partner, they will often briefly describe what they are looking for and for how long.

E.g. I got here on x day, I’m leaving on z day, and I’m looking for someone to date and show me around while I’m here. 

Sometimes people practice short-term dating because they don’t want someone else to affect their decisions. You don’t expect someone you’ve known for two months to affect your life decisions. 

So you go into a short-term relationship with this in mind. So if you must choose between an exciting job offer in a different location or your relationship, you go for the former. 

You would even go into the relationship with a made-up mind. Say you applied for this job opportunity but knew it would take a month or two to get a solid offer, and in the meantime, you decided you didn’t want to be lonely. 

So you start dating knowing that after two months, you’ll fly out. As long as you are upfront about it, there is nothing wrong with this. 

Parties in a short-term relationship know they aren’t ready to settle down but would like something real. So a short-term relationship is far from hooking up. It involves some degree of commitment, just not the same as in a long-term relationship. 

Short-term vs. Long-term dating

Long-term dating implies dating to find something that leads to a serious and long-term commitment, like marriage. 

It doesn’t necessarily mean a long-term relationship will lead to marriage. It might end after some time, but the intention was for it to last longer and lead to something serious. 

Someone looking for a long-term relationship is often ready to settle down or open to the idea of settling down. So even if the relationship lasts a month, we can’t call it a short-term relationship. 

In short-term dating, both parties know the relationship can never lead to something serious; they are neither ready to settle down nor open to settling down at the moment. 

How Long Is Considered a Short-Term Relationship?

How Long is Considered a Short-Term Relationship
How Long is Considered a Short-Term Relationship

Often, a short-term relationship lasts for a few months—3 to 4 or less. However, it can last longer, depending on the dynamics of the relationship. 

As I said, sometimes those involved have a predictable end date. So they may set it to five or even seven months. 

As much as duration affects the relationship and defines whether it’s short-term or long-term, the bottom line is the end goal and intention. 

That is to say, a short-term relationship might extend to seven months, but that doesn’t make it long-term. Unless, along the way, the parties involved changed their minds and decided they were open to something long-term. 

Is a Short-term Relationship Casual?

Yes and no. Some dynamics in a short-term relationship relate to casual dating, but short-term relationships involve something real, unlike casual relationships. 

So whether a short-term relationship is casual or not depends on its dynamics and how those involved have defined and want it to be.

Bottom Line

While you might get into the dating pool hoping to find a long-term relationship, not everyone has the same goal. Others are there to date regularly, but for a shorter time. 

As such, ensure you align your dating goals with a potential match before diving too deep. Don’t wait for the other person to come clean about their intentions; find out soon enough so you know whether to proceed or look for another match.

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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.