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Is casual dating right for you? Everything you need to know about dating for fun

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Nov 22, 2023

Is casual dating right for you? Everything you need to know about dating for fun

Sometimes, we get so caught up in the stumbling blocks of navigating the dating world that we forget—dating is supposed to be fun! Remember? If you aren’t having fun while dating, what is the point anyway? Whether you have been in your single era for a minute or just got out of a long-term relationship, you might be thinking of going on casual dates. If so, you’ve come to the right place. 

Monogamy and committed relationships have been in vogue since the invention of the modern institution of marriage. But who says that our lives need to revolve around one romantic connection? It’s 2023, and it’s more than okay to date for fun! Get in bestie, we are throwing our outdated beliefs about relationships out the window!

Due to the stigma and lack of resources around casual dating, knowing how to keep relationships casual can be challenging. I don’t know about you, but ‘casual sex’ was never quite covered in depth in the sex education I received growing up. If you’ve never had a casual relationship, you might wonder: what are the pros and cons of going on casual dates?

While it’s true that casual dating can be tricky and stressful if you don’t have the right tools, don’t worry. I’ve got your back! Here is everything you need to know about dating for fun, including how to keep things casual, casually dating on the apps, and how to stay safe and practice healthy communication while dating multiple people. There is no time like today to be slutty, single, and available for romantic and sexual entanglements of every flavor!

What does it mean to be dating just for fun?

The best way to approach dating is to have fun while doing it! Dating for fun can look like going on many dates with different people or relaxing and enjoying the dating process without needing it to end in a relationship.

A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that 70% of North American college students have explored casual sex and hook-up culture. More young people are rejecting traditional concepts of a relationship and challenging heteronormative expectations around love and sex.

But if you are unsure what the term ‘casual’ even means these days when it comes to dating, you are not alone. Because the word casual is so subjective—what might seem ‘casual’ to one person could be extremely meaningful to another, especially lesbians—people have different definitions for what it means to be casually dating someone.

While the term ‘casual’ refers to just one-night stands or no-strings-attached hookups, millennials and Gen Zers are redefining what the term means. Broadly speaking, dating for fun describes the act of pursuing sexual, romantic, or emotional connections without an end goal of commitment in mind.

So, how do you know if casual dating is right for you? 

Casual dates might be a great option if you are looking to connect with people and get some of your sexual or social needs met but you aren’t looking to get into a serious relationship. You get to spend time around hot people you really vibe with without the expectation that you are going to rearrange your whole life for them. You can go out, dance your ass off, have a good time, go home with whoever, and not have to worry about being accountable to anyone but yourself.

Dating for fun means you get to be attached or unattached as you want, so long as everyone in the situationship is on the same page. Before you get out there, you might wonder what the pros and cons of keeping things casual are. Here is a laundry list of what you can expect to love and hate about dating people casually.

A lesbian couple who have been dating for fun kissing each other outside of a European restaurant with wine glasses in hand. One woman is wearing a long green pea coat while the other is in a white sheer blouse.

Pros of casual dating 

Going on casual dates is a great option for people who just got out of a serious or long-term relationship and aren’t looking to commit to anyone right now. Instead of jumping into a rebound relationship, single people are deciding to prioritize themselves and just date for fun. By casually dating, you can enjoy the perks of sexual and/or emotional intimacy—including physical touch or closeness—without sacrificing independence.

Another benefit of casual dating is getting to know someone in a laid-back way without all the pressure on relationships. Unlike one-night stands and hookups, casual dates offer something in between commitment and no-strings-attached sex. When you are dating someone for fun, you can take the pressure and expectations off of the connection to be something specific and allow things to develop organically with the people you are seeing instead. 

If you find yourself healing from a past relationship or otherwise emotionally unavailable, dating multiple people at once can be a great way to still get your sexual needs met without the expectation of “showing up” for another person. Casual dating can also be a great option for super-career-focused people or those who have kids from a previous relationship and don’t have time for a relationship right now.

Casual dating might also come more naturally to queers and all people across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum because all of our relationships are a little bit flirty anyway. The stereotype that ‘all lesbians date their best friends and everyone’s best friend is also their ex’ is so toxic, mostly because it’s pretty much true. Queer people are more likely to have lots of different types of connections that blur the lines between platonic, romantic, sexual, and emotional realms. 

Rebekkah, a queer femme lesbian in her 30s, told me that she always found casual dating easier with long-distance connections.

“I’m a slut for romance, but dating is the most fun when the people I’m involved with live in different cities, states, or countries! That way, the boundaries are already naturally set in place, and I can just take romantic trips to visit them. It’s a great excuse to travel.”


Dating casually can be a great way for couples—or for solo polyamorous folks—to explore ethical non-monogamy! Whether you’ve recently opened up your relationship and are looking for a third, or you’ve been around the queer poly block for a while now, going on a few casual dates might provide the perfect outlet for you to explore different types of relationships.

Cons of casual dating

While casual dating has many perks, it’s also important to know what you are signing up for when seeing multiple people. First off, dating multiple people can be a lot. It’s important to be intentional and pace yourself when you first start casually dating if you want to avoid dating burnout

Going on dates with multiple people can be time-consuming, especially if you regularly date people. It’s important to be aware of your capacity and how much energy you have for other people when you are casually dating. Another con of dating casually can be a lack of emotional fulfillment from having fleeting connections without much intimacy or depth. This can especially be true if one of your rules for casual dating is not to “catch feelings” for other people. 

Sometimes, something that is supposed to be casual turns into something more. This could look like one person developing stronger romantic feelings and the other person not feeling the same way. You may experience feelings of rejection or guilt, depending on what side of the relationship you’re on.

Another risk of casual dating is the confusion or anxiety that comes with the ambiguous nature of the relationship, especially when things change or aren’t communicated clearly. This lack of clarity can lead to anxiety, jealousy, hurt feelings, or conflict arising in something that was just meant to be casual.

Another thing to be aware of if you are having casual sex is the increased risk of sexually transmitted infections from sleeping with multiple people. Remember to use protection, have conversations about your sexual health history with your new sexual partner, and get tested regularly, especially after each hookup.

A queer couple that has been casually dating laying on the floor together. A curly-haired woman in a yellow knit top has her head in the lap of her blonde girlfriend who is wearing a rainbow tank top. There are moving boxes and a coffee cup on the floor next to them.

How to keep things casual? 

So maybe you’ve decided that you might like to start exploring casual sex or dating, but you’re left with one burning question. How TF does anyone ever keep things casual? If you’re anything like me, you might go to great lengths to pretend that you are a “chill person,” all the while knowing that the genome for “hopeless romantic” is hardwired in your DNA.

I know that even when I’ve tried my hardest to keep things casual, sometimes people develop feelings (myself included). I never implemented a “no catching feelings” rule, mostly because I wasn’t interested in sexual connections without some level of romance or emotional intimacy. During my time casually dating, I had to teach myself that there was a difference between liking someone, loving someone, and wanting to be in a relationship with someone. 

If you know you are bad at keeping things casual but aren’t ready for a relationship, that’s okay, too! The best thing to do is just be honest with whoever you are dating about your intentions and where you’re at. It actually takes a lot of emotional intelligence and self-awareness to casually date multiple people! You’ve got to be honest with yourself and other people, juggle your sexual or romantic connections with different people at the same time, and know when to end things when you are no longer on the same page.

4 rules to follow for casually dating on apps

One of the great things about queer dating is that hooking-up and casual sex is pretty normalized in our community. LGBTQIA+ people often don’t have to deal with the same stigma about casual sex that heterosexuals and cisgender face from their friends or family. 

Casual dating has also become way easier for queer people with the rise of LGBTQIA+ dating apps like HER has quadrupled the gay dating pool. Follow these four rules for dating casually so that you can get the most out of dating for fun, shits, and giggles. 

Be clear about your intentions from the get-go

Rule number one: Don’t beat around the bush or waste people’s time! If you are looking for something casual, make sure to add that to your profile pronto! That way, you’ll be sure to attract people who are looking for the same thing as you. Once you’ve found a hottie online who you’ve been messaging, make sure to be clear about what you are looking for.

During the periods of my life that I’ve dated casually, I always tried to let people know exactly what I was and wasn’t available for. You should be comfortable letting people know what you want and expect from them so that you both know what you’re signing up for.

Treat everyone that you’re dating with respect

How often should you see someone you’re casually dating? There is no hard and fast rule for how often you should see people you have casual relationships with. It depends on the nature of the connection and how much time both people have in their day-to-day lives. At the end of the day, being respectful of everyone’s time, energy, and boundaries is the best way to go about things. 

“Casual relationships work when they are founded upon mutual respect and honesty. Deception, even in favor of sparing someone’s feelings often hurts worse in the long run.” 

A certified sex therapist and licensed psychologist Dr. Kate Balestrieri

Communicate, communicate, communicate

I can’t say this one enough (pun intended)! Are you seeing multiple people at the same time? Make sure your date knows that you are sleeping with other people. Do you want to be casually dating someone exclusively? Tell them! Can’t meet up with someone for a date because you’ve double-booked or over-scheduled? No problem, just send them a text! 

Communication is one of the hardest and healthiest things to do in any relationship, but especially casual ones. Air on the side of caution and be extra communicative with the people you see. In other words, it’s all about the chat and the actions that back it up. 

Know when to break things off 

This is the hardest rule to follow but the most important of all. Knowing when to end things with someone is an art form in itself. If you’re not feeling things, don’t try to string your date along just about you feel bad. If you’ve started developing feelings for someone you’ve agreed to keep things casual with, it’s best to tell them the truth about how things have changed. 

Now you should have everything that you need to make dating fun, relaxing, and most of all, super effing sexy. Good luck with all your casual endeavors, babes!

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Dusty Brandt Howard is a writer & a fighter. He is a trans masculine cultural narrator who builds worlds with words. You can follow his thirst traps on Instagram, his writing on Substack, or find him at your local queer bar in northeast LA.

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