What is casual dating?

Sex Dating - two people kissing

One of the great things about dating in the modern world is the freedom we all have to explore our preferences and to pursue the relationships that we want. Whether it’s same-sex, with multiple partners, pan-sexual or virtually any other type of sexual relationship, the modern world is more accepting and open than ever before.

Today, one of the fastest growing areas of the online dating scene is casual dating. Is casual dating the same as no strings attached dating? Which demographics are traditionally interested in it, and is it healthy? Join us as we answer those questions and more below.

Casual Dating Explained

Casual dating is dating without the emotional attachment and monogamy which is typically found in a relationship. Less formal than a traditional relationship, casual dating foregrounds sexual compatibility and freedom over the search for a long-term, committed partner. Many people chose casual dating to engage in sexual relationships without commitment.

Rebecca Plante, a professor at Ithaca College who has completed many hours of specialist research on the subject of casual dating found that unlike a romantic relationship, casual dating is often undefined, not ascribing to the ‘norms, scripts and expectations’ that traditional dating demands.

Is it the Same as No String Attached Dating?

Casual dating is known by a number of different names, with many variations both locally and nationally. Amongst the most common alternative names for casual dating are:

  • No Strings Attached Dating (NSA dating)
  • Hooking Up
  • Open Relationships
  • Casual Relationships
  • Casual Sex
  • Friends-with-Benefits

Despite the number of synonyms for casual dating, all of these things are essentially the same; names for open, free and liberating sexual relationships without the rules and hassle of building a long-term relationship.

Who is This Most Popular With?

Casual Dating Popularity

Historically, casual dating has been associated with younger people. In particular, college and university students around the world.

Catherine Grello’s 2010 study ‘No Strings Attached: The Nature of Casual Sex in College Students’, Grello found that casual dating amongst college students in the US was exceptionally common, appearing in between friends more often than with strangers.

However, casual dating’s appeal isn’t limited only to younger people.

Sex is something desired by each of us, no matter what age we are. Historically, seeking casual sex has been something that few have admitted to doing. However, with the rise of the internet and the increased openness of sexual expression, more and more people are realising that casual dating is an option for them.

Peter K. Jonason et al (2014) studied levels of comfort with non-traditional, casual dating amongst 281 American participants, aged between 17-76. They found that 18% of participants had, in the last year, enjoyed a one-night stand. 17% had had a booty-call and 32% had been involved in a ‘friends-with-benefits’ situation. Extrapolated to the wider population, those numbers suggest there are hundreds of millions of people taking part in casual dating relationships right now.

Can a Casual Dating Relationship Become a Loving Relationship?

One of the most commonly asked questions regarding casual dating relationships is whether they can become traditional, monogamous relationships.

The simple answer is ‘yes, of course’.

Although those who use casual dating websites to find sexual partners aren’t necessarily looking for a long-term relationship, anything can happen when two people connect. However, if you’re going into casual relationships expecting them to turn into a long term relationship then you’re almost certainly going to be let down.

Instead, let things unfold naturally and see where they can go – you’ll be glad that you did.

What’s the History of No Strings Attached Dating?

Casual sex is something which has been enjoyed since the dawn of humanity. Indeed, some scientists like Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, writing in Sex at Dawn, contend that monogamy is something humans have adapted to relatively recently as a way of laying claim to land and passing down property and possessions.

Prior to that, it’s contended that humans had lots of sex with many different partners – a notion which explains both the design of the penis and the fact that humans have sex for pleasure, something very few animals do.

Of course, there’s no way to truly authenticate these claims, but there’s no denying that humans have always engaged in non-monogamous behaviour. People have been ‘cheating’ for as long as humans have been recording data and, indeed, casual sex has always been a part of our lives.

The recent explosion in the debate around casual dating and sex has come from the emergence of the internet as a platform for discussion and discovery.

As billions of people have flooded on to the internet, they have brought with them their sexual desires. It’s led to many people discovering the joy of casual relationships and is arguably one of the biggest drivers behind the growing popularity of casual dating.

Is it a Healthy Approach?

Casual Dating healthy

Casual dating can be fun and liberating, but is it healthy? The answer is a resounding yes.

Regular sexual intercourse is something which has been found to offer profound health benefits, but there are also a great many mental health benefits of having fulfilling sex. By taking your desires out of the dark and enjoying them consensually with a likeminded individual, you can help ease guilt which society places on you.

Whilst having casual sex within a committed relationship (without permission) is never recommended, casual sex in a permissive (open) relationship or when you’re single is healthy and normal to engage in. Prudish people may tell you otherwise, but the history of humanity disagrees.

Is it Right for Me?

The question of whether casual dating is right for you is best answered by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Are you single, or in an open relationship?
  • Do you crave sexual freedom?
  • Are you looking for short-term relationships based on sexual chemistry?

If the answer to the above questions is ‘yes’, then casual dating is almost certainly right for you. Casual dating can be a fast, fun and flirty way to meet new people and have your sexual itches scratched without feeling like you’re stringing somebody along. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, then casual dating is right for you.

Is casual dating right for me

Where Can You Try Casual Dating?

Historically, the issue with casual dating was that whilst there are millions upon millions of people looking for it, knowing who was interested and who wasn’t was nigh on impossible.

Today, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Dedicated casual dating websites like ours have created a dedicated space for those looking for sex and sex only. Here are our top tips for finding casual dating partners online:

  • Use a Dedicated Casual Dating Website – Traditional online dating websites are about finding long-lasting connections, falling in love and maybe even marrying. Of course, some people on them are open to a casual relationship, but most aren’t. It’s best to avoid these sites if you’re just looking for sex.
  • Don’t Hit People Up Over Social Media – Nobody likes unwanted advancements, so don’t make them. Just because somebody posted a hot Instagram picture doesn’t mean they want to an unsolicited advance.

How to Master the NSA Dating Art

If you’ve never engaged in a casual dating relationship before, knowing the right way to turn can be tricky. Are you meant to show affection? Do you arrange dates? How do I know if they want to meet me?

Join us as we share our top tips for mastering casual dating:

  • Be Open and Honest – Casual dating is about getting exactly what you want without the things you don’t need. That means sexual fulfilment without the stresses and strains of attempting to build a relationship. As such, it always pays to be open and honest about what you want out of a casual relationship. It might sound blunt or up front, but hey – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • Always be Safe – Whether you’re old or young, sexually transmitted diseases remain a reality. Always make sure you’re protected.
  • Leave the Romance at the Door – People looking for casual, no strings attached sexual relationships aren’t typically secretly hoping to fall in love. In fact, they’re just looking for some fun. So, leave the romance at the door and get into the spirit of things.
  • Be Friendly – Casual dating might not be about creating long-term relationships, but that doesn’t mean that kindness and courtesy need to go out of the window. Nerves are common, so be good to your date. After all, you wouldn’t expect any less in return.
  • Know You Won’t Always Have It Your Way – Sex is about mutual enjoyment, so don’t go expecting to be serviced without a little effort in return. Enjoy the give and take of great sex and don’t be selfish.
  • Have Fun! – Casual dating is about having fun, so don’t take it all too seriously.
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