Ask Wendy

What Does “Dating Casually” Mean?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Hey Wendy

I went out on a few dates with this guy and everything went really well, but now I have no idea how to do the casual thing.

Here are the details. Date 1 we both agreed to keep this casual, but Dates 2 and 3 were back-to-back and seemed to be more on the serious side. We dove into some heavier conversation, and ended up having sex a few times on Date 3. The sex was great!

Date 4 was planned for that next night, but I think both of us were feeling like it was too much and he beat me to the punch and bailed at the last minute, but rescheduled for next week.

I'm not used to casual dating, but I really don't want anything serious right now. So, what's the "norm" for dating casually? How often do casual daters see each other? How often should I expect communication with him? I'm in no hurry to be serious with anyone right now, but I don't know the difference between a blow-off and someone treating this casually. Help!

Hey Dater,

The difference between a blow-off and casual can be tricky to distinguish at the beginning. Without history together, you’ve never experienced his level of integrity and sense of follow through. When a date is planned and he cancels last-minute, that could mean one of many things, and you won’t learn the real ‘why’ until you know him. So, time will help you understand the difference.

Casual dating means you get to go have good times with your date, and you two have no obligations to each other in between those dates. There’s no rule of thumb or norm for frequency; that’s something you two can hash out together based on schedules and mutual interest.

Now, throw sex in the mix and sprinkle it with Oxytocin (the bonding hormone), and it can get a bit messier. Biologically, you’ll most likely be pulled to pairing up. What does this mean for the “casual” thing? It means you’re going to have to sort that for yourself, since the lid is already off that pretty little box.

If you can do casual and have sex with him, good for you! I recommend getting some help from a non-judgmental friend, though. Set her up. You could say, “Hey, I’m trying to keep it casual with this new one, but we’re already sexual. Will you let me tell you all the delusions I’m having and just love me through them?”

You want this setup so you can get those thoughts that are not associated with reality out of your head. She can listen to all the details of the crazy-making hallucinations you will most likely have about the awesomeness of the relationship that isn’t there. Driving home after a date you can get her on the Bluetooth headset and say, “My ovaries are telling me that we’re going to get married, and have two children, and move to Germany together, Yay!” Hallucinations — that’s what can happen when you’re on drugs, and Oxytocin is a powerful one.

Second recommendation? “Dating casually” implies you’re seeing other people, so see other people. It will help you keep your perspective and hone your ability to spot the ones who just aren’t that interested versus the ones who are actually into what you’re after.

Good luck out there!


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