You may find yourself considering a casual relationship or maybe you are already in one. But, what does a casual relationship mean and what does it involve?
A casual relationship is an occasional encounter with an idea of having fun, and without much commitment. In a casual relationship there’s no dependency, no expectations and no future plans. A casual relationship is perfect for people who need some love and romance while not having too much time to build a serious relationship.
In this article, you will learn all there is to know about a casual relationship. We’ll cover everything from its definition to common problems and how to deal with them. Should you have any questions or need some help, you will find how to get it at the bottom of this page.
Let’s have a look at what is a casual relationship…
What Is a Casual Relationship?
Usually, a casual relationship is an early stage of a relationship with less commitment and more freedom. A casual relationship can be open or exclusive.
Casual means on occasion, every now and then, something that is not regular and doesn’t involve too much planning.
Characteristics of a Casual Relationship
- Tends to last a short time as couples either separate or develop deeper feelings.
- Occasional meet ups with minimal planning.
- Allows the freedom to act on how you feel at the time.
- You can easily change your mind about this relationship if you start to feel differently.
- More flexible in terms of rules and boundaries.
- Does not require commitment.
- Does not involve planning the future.
- You can enjoy physical and emotional intimacy without getting too involved.
- It is generally fun and exciting, but at the same time quite uncertain.
What Does a Casual Relationship Involve?
A casual relationship involves 2 or more people who want a light hearten relationship without planning, commitment or obligation. And particularly without compromising other aspects of their life.
It’s worth learning what involves having a casual relationship, so you can manage your expectations and have a healthy dynamic with your partner.
A casual relationship works when people enjoy each other’s company and want to have a relationship. But, want to focus their attention on their personal development and other aspects of their lives.
Hence, the relationship becomes a compliment to one’s life, but not the main priority.
In a casual relationship you have more freedom deciding how much time you spend together. You can spend as little or as much time as you like and at a moment’s notice.
In a casual relationship people know only what is relevant about each other and their relationship. (e.g. when you meet you decide how long you spend together and have a rough idea on when you are seeing each other next).
You would see someone you just met or a friend/acquaintance every now and then with an idea to have fun and enjoy your time together…
Types of Casual Relationships
- Friends with Benefits (FWB)
- Vacation fling
- Play Thing (PT)
- One Night Stand (ONS)
- Exclusive Casual Relationship
- Open Casual Relationship
An Example of a Casual Relationship
You are focusing on your education or career, but also want a bit of romance in your life. You want to be with someone, but don’t have too much time to spend on building a relationship.
So, you go on a dating site or a bar, meet a person you like and who is in the similar point in life as you.
After a few dates, provided you get on well, you agree to see each other occasionally on the conditions that suit both of you.
As the time passes, your circumstances change and maybe you need to move to a different place or you would like to be with someone else.
On the other hand, you may develop stronger feelings for each other.
Whatever your case may be, it’s best to recognise the change as it happens, so you can talk about how this change affects your relationship. In the end, you may choose to separate, remain friends or consider a more serious relationship..
Casual vs Serious Relationship
Casual relationship is more about the freedom and flexibility. While a serious relationship is about commitment and planning.
A person who wants a casual relationship is looking for freedom, independence, less attachments and responsibilities. At the same time this person would want to focus on their own goals, ambitions, career and personal development. Or, they may have other personal commitments, hobbies, interests that are more important.
Some pros for some people can be cons for others. It depends on your current needs and circumstances.
Pros and Cons of a Casual Relationship
Pros of a Casual Relationship
- Good when figuring out what you want
- No social pressure
- No commitment
- No promises
- Still considered single
- Enjoying the moment
- You are the priority
- Fewer things to consider when making your decisions
- No need to make future plans
- Less fighting and arguments
- Less need to prove your opinion and point of view
- Your opinions, preferences, values and beliefs are less important than in a serious relationship
Cons of a Casual Relationship
- A lack of planning results in uncertainty.
- Uncertainty about the future of your relationship.
- No social status (more important for some cultures than others).
- Lack of stability, consistency and predictability.
Is a Casual Relationship Right for You?
A casual relationship is great for dating while you explore being with different people.
People like being in a casual relationship before making a commitment to a specific person. In casual dating you can come and go as you please with little accountability.
A casual relationship can be open or exclusive. It can also develop into something more serious.
A Casual Relationship Is Right For You If:
- You want avoid being tied down to one person
- You want less drama in a relationship
- You just want to ‘hook up’
- You don’t want strings attached
- You want to remain single
- You are looking for discovery and experimentation
- You don’t want to develop deep feelings
- You want to see each other occasionally
- You have other priorities in life
- You don’t want to dedicate much time and effort to a relationship
- Along the way you may develop romantic feelings or decide to stay friends
A Casual Relationship Is Not Right For You If:
- You are looking to build a long-term serious relationship with a particular person
- You want to be deeply involved with one person
- You are looking to build a family and have children
- The social status of being in a relationship is important to you
- You want to feel safe in this relationship and rely on the other person
Starting a Casual Relationship
How to Find a Casual Relationship
When you look for a casual relationship your intention is not having a relationship long-term. If you are looking for a casual relationships dating websites and online chats are a good place to start.
Whether is filling a profile or talking to people online or face to face is important to be upfront and honest. Express your intentions, what you want and what you expect. To do that, you first of all need to understand yourself, your needs and preferences, as well as your current circumstances.
When you know who you look for, it’s easier to find the right person. For a casual relationship you can be quite flexible and don’t need to spend too much time figuring this out, but it’s worth taking a little bit of time.
Before going out looking for a casual relationship, take some time. Get to know yourself better and get clear on what you look for in a potential partner. So, you can narrow down your search depending on what you want:
- Someone to hang out with
Before Starting a Casual Relationship
It is commonly accepted that any romantic relationship begins with casual dating before turning into a serious relationship. However, a relationship as a whole can be casual even if it extends beyond dating.
At the same time, some people may choose a more serious approach to dating particularly when they are looking for a long-term serious relationship that involves living together and having a family.
What to Expect from a Casual Relationship
- Short-term (it can also be an occasional hook up with a long-term friend or acquaintance). A casual relationship can be short term or long term.
- Minimum commitment.
- Maximum freedom to do whatever you feel like doing whenever you feel like it.
- The longer a casual relationship lasts the higher the likelihood that you will develop feelings and want a more serious relationship that just a friendship.
- It does not involve feelings.
- You see each other occasionally.
- You know it will end and are ok with it.
How to Start a Casual Relationship
- Get clear on what you want at this point in your life.
- Meet a person who wants the same.
- Agree on what a causal relationship means for both of you.
- Decide when you are going to see each other.
- Define how much time you will spend together.
- Agree on how you will bring up a conversation if your feelings or circumstances change.
Keep in mind that a casual relationship shouldn’t take too much of your time, otherwise it will start becoming more serious.
If both of you want to spend more time together and develop feelings for each other, then you need to reassess your relationship.
Usually the line between a casual and a serious relationship can be blurred. Casual relationships may last for a short time while you decide whether you enjoy the time together and then move on.
Another possibility is that both of you develop feelings for each other and would want a more serious relationship. This tends to happen gradually and this transition can complicate your relationship.
If you find yourself wanting to spend more time together than originally agreed take your time to reassess your relationship.
Having a Casual Relationship
In a casual relationship you have the freedom to enjoy the company of someone you like while still having the time for your career, hobbies, and other important things in your life.
Casual relationships tend to be short term because the longer your relationship lasts, the more serious it becomes. If this happens you may need to reassess your relationship.
As your relationship develops and you get to know each other better, you may want a more exclusive or serious relationship. So, make sure to check in with your partner to see if your feelings for each other have changed and you now want something different. Talk about your relationship as your feelings and circumstances change.
With time you will see how this relationship fits into your life. You may find that this person contributes to your life, well-being, and helps you achieve your life goals and ambitions. In this case, you may consider a more serious relationship, making this person a bigger part of your life.
You may also discover that this relationship is not what you expected and is in fact getting in the way of you doing what you love. Your relationship may not be working as good as you’d like it. There can be too much drama or the boundaries you established might have been crossed.
If this happens, it could be worth reassessing your relationship to see if you would like to figure out the problems. Then, you can try to fix them and make your relationship work or you may decide with your partner that it may be best for both of you to end this relationship.
Reasons to Have a Casual Relationship
- Want to hook up for sex
- Want to have a relationship without drama
- Want physical closeness without too much emotional intimacy
- Want to have a regular sex partner
How to Talk About Having a Casual Relationship
- Get clear on what you want in your life right now
- Understand what it means to be in a casual relationship
- Always be honest and upfront about your intentions
- Take time to understand another person and their reasons for a casual relationship
- Discuss your expectations to make sure you are on the same page
How to Maintain a Healthy Casual Relationship
A healthy casual relationship has the same basic principles as any other relationship: honesty, trust, good communication, sexual compatibility, and fulfillment.
To maintain a healthy casual relationship you need to keep it casual. Over communication, the need for planning and developing deeper feelings change the dynamic of your relationship. And unless you have a talk about these changes, you risk ruining your relationship.
It’s OK to end a relationship or to have a serious relationship. But it’s NOT OK to carry on with a casual relationship if what you want, need or feel is now different from how it was when you started.
How to Handle Problems in a Casual Relationship
Like any other type, a casual relationships has its problems. And once you are aware of them, you can plan ahead on your strategies to handle them in a healthy and loving way.
In a moment, we’ll talk about some of the common problems in a casual relationship and how to handle them. For now, one thing to keep in mind is that this is a fun and easy type of relationship, so you should approach it lightly.
If you find yourself getting too worked up about different issues, perhaps you are a bit too involved for something that is meant to be lighthearted and fun.
Rules and Boundaries in a Casual Relationship
What Are Relationship Rules?
In a healthy relationship rules are made based on boundaries.
Who is making the rules? For whom is this rule?
Rules in a Casual Relationship
Rules are agreements on what to do and what not to do under certain conditions.
What to Do in a Casual Relationship
- Keep it simple
- Don’t make plans
- Keep it casual
- Take it easy
- Have minimum expectations
- Expect it to be a short-term relationship
- Talk about your feelings and needs regularly as they change
- Agree if your relationship is open or exclusive.
What to Avoid in a Casual Relationship
- Leading on with false hopes and expectations
- Making plans without consulting your partner first
What Are Relationship Boundaries?
Boundaries are based on preferences with the limits showing how far these preferences extend.
The limit of the boundary is the extend of your willingness to do something.
What Boundaries Should You Have in a Casual Relationship
- Establish what each of you is expecting from the relationship.
- Agree if you are going to be public about your relationship.
- Agree how you will treat each other in public.
- Agree how and how often you are going to communicate.
- Respect each other’s boundaries.
- Avoid doing things you did not agree on. E.g. texting all the time or insisting on more frequent visits.
- Decide if you want to build a friendship or keep it purely physical.
- Agree if your relationship is open or exclusive.
- Agree when, where and how often will you see each other.
- Decide how much personal information you are sharing (e.g. family, post relationships, problems, interests, hobbies).
- Consider how you will approach a discussion about your feelings and circumstances if and when they change.
How to Set Boundaries in a Casual Relationship
- Know yourself and know your preferences.
- Take time to learn about your partner, their likes and dislikes.
- Talk about things that are important for you and things that you can be flexible about.
Once you’ve got these covered, you would have naturally set your boundaries. The next step is respecting each other’s boundaries, which you can do by simply caring for yourselves and each other.
Common Problems in a Casual Relationship
- Developing feelings
- Going along with what your partner wants, even if you feel against it
- Being unclear about your expectations
- Wanting different things
- Having different expectations
1. Developing feelings
Developing feelings can become a problem. It can complicate your relationship and make it harder for you to keep it casual.
Talk about your relationship regularly to make sure you are still on the same page and catch at an early stage if one of you is developing feelings for the other.
2. Going along with what your partner wants, even if you feel against it
Even if your feelings change and want something else or something more of this relationship. You may not realised your feelings changed or you may not be upfront with your feelings because you want to stay with this person.
Try to remember your personal life goals and values.
3. Being unclear about your expectations
One of the partners may carry the hope of having something more from this relationship.
It’s a sign that something have gone beyond the boundaries of a casual relationship. Reassess where you are and see if you can work it out.
4. Wanting different things
In a casual relationship it’s ok for you to have different goals and want different things. The problem is wanting something different from a relationship.
If you find that your feelings or circumstances changed, try talking about it as soon as you can. It will help you avoid confusion and unnecessary heartache. You may decide to end your relationship if it gets in the way of your personal goals and ambitions. If you enjoy each other’s company, you can always remain friends and keep in touch.
5. Having different expectations
Use common sense and be mindful about it. Always wear protection and have a doctor’s check in between relationships.
If you happen to face these problems in your casual relationship. Next, let’s take a look at different ways you could handle these problems.
Depending on the problems you will handle them in a certain way. On many occasions it comes down to be open and honest about your feelings, even if you think that your partner may not be thrilled by them.
The first step to solving a problem is understanding what the problem is and talking about it sooner rather than later. The second step, is to understand how these problems affect each of you and your relationship as a whole.
Finally, your priority needs to be finding a solution that works for both of you. Avoiding any unilateral decisions while informing your partner about it.
Knowing these common problems can help you avoid common mistakes couples make in a casual relationship. However, along the way you may encounter a particular problem that we haven’t talked about here.
If you run into a specific problem you can always send us a message to see how we can help. Aside from that you can keep an eye on different signs to make sure your casual relationship is in check.
Signs and Red Flags in a Casual Relationship
Signs of a Healthy Casual Relationship
- You are having fun together.
- You don’t compromise your life priorities.
- You are getting on well and discussing your thoughts, feelings and opinions comfortable with each other.
Red Flags in a Casual Relationship
Ending a Casual Relationship
Ending a casual relationship means one of two things:
- Separating because you are no longer finding it fulfilling.
- Changing it to a more serious relationship because you want to spend more time together.
When to End a Casual Relationship
It’s time to end your casual relationship when you are no longer enjoying it or when you develop deeper feelings for each other.
It’s time to reassess your relationship when you have the need to spend more time together, make some plans for the future and are considering to change your life around this relationship.
Signs Your Casual Relationship Is Over
- You are no longer enjoying your time together
- You are taking this relationship more seriously
- You are communicating more than originally agreed
- Your feelings are no longer mutual
- You want to move on
- You are starting to make promises and commitments
- You are getting used to each other
How to End a Casual Relationship
- Recognise the change in your feelings or circumstances
- Talk about these changes openly and honestly
- Take the time to hear each other out
- Decide what would be the solution going forward that suits both of you without the need to compromise
How to Move On After a Casual Relationship
Moving on after a casual relationship shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The whole idea is that a casual relationship allows you to fit the relationship around your life and other priorities.
So, if you are struggling to move on, focus on all the other important things in your life.
Also, moving on doesn’t have to be a “bad thing”. Moving on essentially means changing the type of relationship depending on your needs and circumstances.
A casual relationship is perfect for people who need some love and romance while not having too much time to build a serious relationship.
We all have different priorities and desires at different stages of our lives. So before starting a casual relationship, take some time to reflect on your life and what is important for you right now.
While having a casual relationship, remember to treat each other with kindness and respect. Just like you would treat anyone else with whom you are spending time and sharing your personal beliefs, values, thoughts and ideas.
Help and Advice for a Casual Relationship
Tips for a Casual Relationship
- Keep it light
- Be honest
- Set your expectations
- Respect your boundaries
- Talk openly about your feelings
- Reassess your relationship if your feelings change
If you need professional help and advice, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is casual dating?
Casual dating is a lighthearted way to get to know another person without any pressure of commitment.
How long do casual relationships last?
Casual relationships tend to last for a short while as people either develop deeper feelings or no longer get on as well as they did in the beginning.
Is casual relationship the same as friends with benefits?
Casual relationship is somewhat different from ‘friends with benefits’. The former is originally intended to be a relationship where you meet someone to fulfil your specific needs. The latter is based on friendship, where people know each other well enough and have already developed a degree of trust and understanding, but for the time being they also feel like having sex together.
Can a casual relationship become serious?
A casual relationship can become serious when both partners develop deeper feelings for each other and these feelings are mutual.
How do I tell him I want more than a casual relationship?
First of all get very clear on your own feelings and exactly what you want from a relationship. Once you know that yourself, all you need is share it from the heart.
How do you know if a casual relationship is serious?
You know your casual relationship is turning serious when you want to spend more time together, learn more about each other and start having stronger feelings and talking about the future plans.
How to have a casual relationship without getting hurt?
If ‘getting hurt’ is on your mind, your relationship is already no longer casual.
What is an example of a casual relationship?
A casual relationship is the one where you are having fun together, while focusing on other priorities in your lives. In other words, it’s a relationship that adds to your lives, rather than having your lives revolving around your relationship.