Why Casual Dating Is Bad: Keeping It Light Isn’t Always Easy

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Keeping It Light Isn’t Always Easy

Casual dating seems to be all the rage right now in the dating world. But if you’re confused about what it is and why it tends to end badly, you’re not alone. 

It seems that in modern dating, monogamous relationships are out of fashion, and there’s an overwhelming feeling that it’s all about casual dating. However, keeping things casual can be extremely difficult. 

There’s no shame in deciding that casual dating isn’t for you. While it may not be a popular take right now, you’re certainly not the only one who feels that way. I find casual dating to be tough. You’re either not invested to the point where you are barely interested in the other person, or you’re feeling more than the person you’re dating is. Either way, it tends to be a lose-lose situation. 

We’re going to explore some common feelings that casual dating brings up and figure out why casual dating is bad more often than not. 

What is casual dating?

Before we dive into all the reasons why casual dating tends to be the worst, let’s define what casual dating really means. 

Casual dating is more than just hooking up with someone; it is not a relationship. There’s no real level of commitment; however, there is an emotional attachment. Casual dating is also not exclusive. 

So people who are casual dating are often casually dating other people at the same time. 

Sounds like a recipe for dating disasters? That’s because it usually is. When feelings are involved, it can be extremely difficult to keep things casual. 

When does it work?

It may seem like I’ve completely bashed casual dating, but there are certainly times in a person’s dating life when casual is the best way to go. 

When exactly?

A couple casually dating at the park
A couple casually dating at the park

You want to take things slowly

Maybe you tend to rush into relationships. You love being in love and you want to break your dating patterns. If you tend to jump from relationship to relationship, then you may want to explore casual dating for a little while. 

It allows you to take things slow and feel out your dating partners before rushing into a committed relationship. It will also help you to maintain boundaries so that you don’t lose yourself in a new relationship. 

You don’t want to commit

Maybe you want to focus on yourself right now. Especially if you tend to get swept up in relationships and fall in love, it can be easy to lose your sense of self. 

A lot of people tend to shy away from commitment when trying to reconnect with themselves. Maybe you aren’t even sure what you want from your romantic relationships. In that case, go casual. It will be better for everyone involved. 

You can’t deal with relationship expectations

Relationships can be whatever you and your partner decide works for you. They can look like many different things.

Long gone are the days of white picket fences, a husband and wife, two kids, and a golden retriever in the backyard of a suburban home. 

However, relationships do require commitment, communication, time, and energy. They’re something you have to work at. There’s no shame in deciding that that’s not the part of your life where you want to focus your attention right now. 

You just got out of a serious relationship 

This may be a good time to explore casual dating. As long as you feel ready to be back in the dating world, then go for it. 

Going from one serious relationship to the next too quickly can lead to problems later down the road. Take the time to heal from the end of one relationship and reflect on it. The end of relationships can be a great time for self-exploration and to reassess your romantic relationship goals. Casual dating can be a good way to learn from others and have some fun. 

Why is casual dating bad?

Why is casual dating bad
Why is casual dating bad?

Alright, so we saw that casual dating can be good under certain circumstances. However, falling into a cycle of constant casual dating is not ideal. Although that seems to be the current trend: serial casual daters. 

What makes casual dating so bad?

Negative psychological effects

There are many common side effects of casual dating, such as anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression. The lack of commitment from someone you care about can spur these negative emotions. 

Oftentimes, as you are dating someone, feelings emerge and often grow. If the relationship doesn’t end, it becomes complicated to maintain a casual vibe. It feels natural for it to evolve into something more. When that doesn’t happen, it can cause some serious negative mental health issues. 

I casually dated someone for over a year. Talk about a mental health roller coaster ride. I was the most anxious I’ve ever been. When someone doesn’t want to commit to more with you, it eventually starts to hurt your self-esteem. It’s confusing to have the relationship continue but not grow. 

One person often wants more

This goes hand in hand with our last point. It’s rare that you enjoy spending time together with someone and have a physical connection, but don’t want to take the relationship to the next level.

More often than not, in a casual dating experience, if it continues long enough, someone is going to want more from the relationship. 

It’s terrible if that feeling isn’t reciprocated. It’s confusing to have someone enjoy spending time with you but not want to explore the relationship further. Casual dating usually ends badly for at least one of the parties involved. 

It’s exhausting

I honestly don’t know how serial casual daters do it. I find casual dating nonstop to be exhausting. Sure, there are times when it’s exciting, fun, and sexy. But more often than not, I want to stop having the same first-date conversations and move on to something deeper. 

Casual dating can feel like a loop of the same thing but with different people. Some people love it, I guess. But for me, and many others, the whole experience can grow tiresome. At the end of the day, most of us just want someone who cares about us and is there for us. Casual dating usually won’t give you that. 

A couple casually dating at the restaurant
A couple casually dating at the restaurant

Feels superficial

Remember that nonstop first date conversation loop I was just talking about? Well, more often than not, the conversations tend to be extremely superficial. 

Yes, perhaps once in a while you have a really insightful philosophical conversation that renews your enthusiasm for meeting and learning from new people. 

But those deep connections and conversations are unfortunately rare. And if you happen to stumble on something deeper, then it often leads to a more emotional attachment, which often leads to wanting a relationship. 

The stereotype of casual dating is that it’s meant to be fun and that usually means keeping it light and on the surface. 

Why has it become so popular?

Is it just me, or does it feel like every other person you meet is just looking for something casual? Or complaining that everyone else is only looking for something casual? 

So, if we’ve looked at all the reasons why casual dating is bad, then why are so many people doing it?

Dating apps

Ahhhh, yes. The oh-so-wonderful world of dating apps has made dating culture fast-paced and superficial. Dating apps make it easy to instantly find a new person to connect with for a few days, often based only on some photos and maybe some common interests listed on their profile. 

I also tend to notice that the majority of people on dating apps note on their profiles that they are just looking for something casual. Of course, certain apps are more relationship-centered, but the majority are not. 

A woman creating an account in an online dating app
A woman creating an account in an online dating app

Self-centered culture

I don’t mean this in a bad way. Certainly, we aren’t all self-centered in the sense of being selfish. However, there is a huge change amongst Millennials and Gen Z in our views of relationships. There is a huge emphasis right now on focusing on ourselves. 

Of course, we should all be working on bettering ourselves. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t do that while in a relationship. Being in committed relationships is a wonderful way to grow as a person. In a two-year committed relationship, I learned more about myself than I had in years of casual dating. 

Monogamy taboo

A world of casual dating and open relationships has emerged as a result of this shift to a self-improvement culture and the constant self-help quotes that flood all of our social media feeds. Monogamy seems to be out of fashion.

Monogamy has been stated as unnatural and often leads to possessive or toxic relationships. Or even worse, it’s been said to be (cue scary music) boring. In a world where we’re all trying to one-up each other in individuality, monogamy has been deemed outdated. 

However, as we’ve seen, relationships without commitment or just casual dating are usually not great situations. While nonmonogamous relationships don’t necessarily mean no commitment, that idea seems to get confused pretty often in the modern dating world. Nonmonogamy is not the same as casual dating, which has become a common misconception. 

Casual doesn’t mean simple

There’s a huge misconception that casual dating is light and fun. Sure, done in the right way, at the right time, it can be. But only casually dating constantly can lead to a lot of anxiety and disappointment in the dating world. 

Commitment can bring about beautiful romantic relationships. It doesn’t have to last forever, but sharing that strong bond with someone can help you grow as a person. 

Casual dating doesn’t often create a space where deeper connections can happen, and if it does, keeping it casual becomes almost impossible. 

Casual dating can be terrible if it’s not something you want to be doing. But remember, you don’t have to casually date. Be open and honest when meeting new people. 

Let them know that you are looking for deeper connections and a relationship. There’s no need to conform to the casual dating trend if it makes you miserable.

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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.