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Casual Dating Casually Explained (With Tips!)

What is casual dating, anyway? We’ve gathered everything there is to know — rules, tips, pros and cons, etc. — so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Editorial team
January 11, 2024
June 15, 2024
min. read
Table of Contents

Situationships, friends with benefits, hookup buddies, oh my! Dating is rarely ever simple, and sometimes, the terms and labels we come up with to clarify things just confuse us even more. Among the most confusing of these labels, “casual dating” takes vagueness to new heights. 

Maybe you’ve had a few guys in a casual boning rotation since the inception of dating apps, and you’re here for a little clarification. Or maybe you’re brand spanking new to the whole situation. Either way, it never hurts to brush up on a little Casual Dating 101. 

Pull out your notebooks and grab your highlighters, boys and babes, because class is in session.

What is a casual relationship?

The casual dater exists somewhere in the vast expanse between no-strings-attached hookup culture and full-blown monogamous marriage. Vague, much? Casual can’t be tied down; it’s the Wild West, and we’re just a bunch of confused gay cowboys trying to figure it out.

So, let’s get a little technical about this not-so-technical term. Casual dating emphasizes independence while de-emphasizing labels and commitment. This means the relationship dynamic fits into your life rather than asking you to mold your life around it.

At its core, casual dating offers the possibility of connection (see: gettin’ dicked down and/or trying that new sushi place) without compromising convenience (as if the complexity of human relationships could be boiled down to something so simple).

What it is

Successful casual dating is all about getting what you want out of the dynamic without compromising your needs or boundaries. It’s whatever you want it to be — as long as all parties agree. 

There is room for emotional connection and romantic feelings. Still, they should come without the emotional attachment associated with committed and exclusive relationships (at least until you decide to take things to the next level).

What it isn’t

This is not a serious relationship, partnership, or big commitment — but it also isn’t a situationship, a booty call, or a means to an end. If you find yourself getting attached and thinking about a relationship, you have exited the realm of casual, and it’s time to reassess. 

Keeping it casual shouldn’t compromise your mental health and wellness, and it definitely isn’t a solution when you like the other person and secretly hope they’ll change their boundaries down the line.

Casual dating vs. friends with benefits (FWB)

The Venn diagram of casual dating and FWB has a lot of overlap, but they’re just different enough to create confusion.

Defining casual dating

Casual dating implies there’s room for romance that goes beyond the platonic. A trip to Pound Town is a possibility, but it isn’t the sole basis of the dynamic or innately implied. The talking stage is the ideal time to feel this out (pun definitely intended).

In this situation, time spent together outside the bedroom is typically considered a date. You likely met in a dating context and don’t have a previous friendship history, so there’s less on the line if it doesn’t work out.

Defining friends with benefits

Friends having casual sex — surprise! Here, time spent together outside the bedroom holds zero romantic value. 

You likely have a friendship history that adds an extra layer of risk (as there’s more to lose if things fall apart) and an extra layer of reward (as your comfort together leads to more fun and, hopefully, more cum).

Just tread carefully. If you look a little closer, your arrangement might turn out to be a situationship dressed up in an FWB costume

Where do FWB and casual dating overlap?

That said, casual dating and FWB do share some similarities:

  • Time spent together can feel light, engaging — and hot. And neither relationship includes the guy you took too many shots with and ended up underneath in a bathroom stall.
  • They’re a fun space for exploration and physical intimacy without feeling used by strangers (unless, of course, you’re into that).
  • They can both tie into non-monogamy dynamics, as the low commitment complements a variety of polyamorous and otherwise open relationships.


Pros and cons of casual dating

As society grows busier and increasingly lonely, the hope of finding romantic connections without committing too much time, energy, or big promises becomes more alluring.

Here’s the good and the bad of it:


  • Fun, connection, and sexploration
  • Low commitment and expectations
  • Less pressure, more pleasure
  • Opportunities to meet a variety of exciting and naughty people
  • Expand your horizons or narrow down your partner preferences (or both!)


  • Catching non-reciprocal feelings (You’re not a robot; it can happen.)
  • Almost always fleeting
  • Potential for jealousy, uncertainty, and the looming threat of ghosting
  • Health risks inherent in any sexual relationship (Remember regular STI testing and communicate openly with partners!)

Tips for casual dating

If the pros outweigh the cons for you, it might be time to take that “no risk, no reward” mentality out into the world. 

These tips will help you reap all the benefits of casual dating:

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Did you show up to a casual date expecting a cute chat over cocktails, but he showed up with condoms and a ball gag? It’s time to state your intentions more clearly. 

Everyone will have their own definition of a casual relationship, so clearly define what you’re both looking for. Try stating this in your Grindr bio so you can discuss it in the DMs before you meet, or fit it in with other get-to-know-you questions during the first date. 

2. Mutual respect

Remember, this isn’t a random hookup. Dating, no matter how casual, requires a degree of learning about each other so you know what lines not to cross.

3. Hold your own boundaries 

Realness originates from within. Your dating life is what you make it, so enter romantic relationships with clear goals and check in with yourself as things progress.

4. Check in with each other

Circumstances change over time. So, too, will your expectations and feelings for each other. Communicate changes early and often to avoid getting stuck in a stale dynamic that no longer serves you.

Casual dating should be fun, hot, and easy. No guy wants to wake up one day in an LTR they didn’t sign up for. 

5. Anticipate the inevitability of change

There might be signs a casual relationship is getting serious — maybe you’re prioritizing each other and spending more time together. If you’re on the same page, there’s nothing wrong with shifting into a committed relationship.

On the other hand, if the spark fades, it might be time to call it quits. Remember, open communication and mutual respect are essential throughout the relationship, including the “breakup.”

6. Regular STI testing

Nothing compromises the vibes quite like passing along an STI. The keys to success? Prevention, catching it early, and keeping partners informed.

Is casual dating for you? Try it on Grindr!

You can approach dating in infinite ways. If you’re interested in penetrating more than just holes, try seeking out an emotionally penetrative relationship. Either way, Grindr is the perfect place to find out whether casual dating is right for you. 

Download the Grindr app and get started now.

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