Casual Dating Rules: The Unspoken Guidelines To Follow

Doublelist Team

May 22, 2024 12 minutes read
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You’re sitting at your desk in your office, staring into space. So far, your day’s been pretty rough. You missed your bus and spilled your coffee, which was all before 9 AM. As a little glimmer of hope, your phone lights up, accompanied by that familiar buzz. You reach for your phone. A text comes through from your casual partner. 

Your heart almost explodes, and your smile beams, but is it too soon to reply? Will that make you look too eager? Should you wait until next week to see them? If only someone had laid out casual dating rules in a manual somewhere. Dating is hard, we know! However, once you know some general rules of thumb to follow, it makes it a little easier. Do you want to know more? Let’s get into it! 

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What Is Casual Dating? 

The pool of dating is vast, and the possibilities are endless. However, casual dating is a very popular choice. If you’re recently out of a relationship with a long-term partner, you might enjoy the concept of a relaxed dynamic. This is what’s known as a casual relationship. You get the perks of dating someone without the stress or commitment. 

Casual relationships are all about that lack of ties or pressure. You don’t hang out with each other’s friends, meet their family, or celebrate anniversaries. It’s all about being as laid back as possible. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have an emotional connection with them. It’s still a romantic relationship. It’s confusing, we know! 

Pew Research Center found that “three in 10 Americans are single.”  Their data also shows that 51% are open to either a “committed relationship or casual dates.” 

The truth is that causal dating is a hard one to grasp. There are a lot of rules to follow in order to keep the other person at arm’s length. If you seem too interested, they might think you want a relationship. If you restrict your relationship to sex only, it’s more of a friends-with-benefits situation. Drawing the line is super important, as it helps you protect your own feelings and heart. 

DoubleList animated graphic of a man and a woman having a conversation over coffee.

Are There Benefits of Having Casual Dating Rules? 

If you’re in a causal relationship, you might be feeling a little confused. This is totally normal; you’re not alone! Drawing the line between a serious relationship and a casual one can get a bit messy. So, having some rules in place can actually benefit you a lot. Here are some perks:

1. Greater Clarity 

Setting ground rules between you and your casual partner is a great way to give you both clarity. There is simply nothing more awkward than two people that are on completely separate pages! Creating and putting rules in place is a good way to avoid any misunderstandings or heartbreak. 

2. Better Communication 

We don’t want to bore you with the phrase, “Communication is key.” So unoriginal! However, it really is! By discussing your expectations and rules, you’ll have better communication and casual fun. This is great for strengthening your emotional attachment and creating a stronger bond. 

3. Protection Over Your Emotions 

We all know what heartbreak feels like; it’s the worst! A lack of rules in place can contribute to this feeling. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes difficult not to become too attached to a person. Especially if you’re intimate and spending lots of time together, having rules in place can help you keep your emotions more protected. They stop you from feeling the awful feeling of “What if?”

4. You Know Where You Stand

Knowing where you stand with someone is always useful. This means that if you meet someone else and there’s a spark, you’ll know whether to explore it or not. Having rules gives you a little more control, and this is always good for confidence. Both of you being on the same page and knowing where you stand is important. 

Setting rules for casual dating is super important, as it helps to prevent things from getting messy! Not being on the same page is an awkward place for both of you, and it’s worth avoiding if possible. But what rules need to be in place? 

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Casual Relationship Rules: Laying Down the Law

We’ve established the benefits of having rules in place, but what are some examples? Rules in place can do wonders for your peace of mind; trust us! Avoiding those misunderstandings and awkward encounters can make your life a whole lot easier. 

Here are some casual relationship rules to follow:

1. Ask Yourself What You Want 

Do you really want something casual? Or are you hoping it’ll turn into something more? Emotions are confusing; we get it. But outlining your own personal needs is super important. It’s sometimes tempting to just dive right into situations because they seem like the best option at the time. Changing your mind is OK, too. Don’t agree to something you’re not happy with! This can open up a whole can of worms for both of you. 

2. Discuss What You Are

Pretend you’re in a Hollywood film and throw a “What are we?” into the mix. In all seriousness, this is a great way to open up channels of communication and set the tone. If one of you is in it for a committed relationship and the other isn’t, things will become messy. 

Discuss your situation with your casual partner, and make sure they know your opinion. Consider all aspects of the relationship and go over everything. Are you still able to sleep with other people? Are you in an exclusive relationship? In order to move forward together, you need to have some rules in place depending on how you both feel. 

DoubleList graphic of a close up of a man and woman about to kiss over a holding hands in the backdrop.

3. Respect the Boundaries of “Casual”

If you’re a relationship person, casual might be a totally new concept to you. Because of this, it’s easy to get caught up in expectations and pressure. A good rule to follow is to respect any boundaries you put in place. For example, if you’ve decided only to see each other twice a week, you need to respect that! 

4. Have Mutual Respect 

Even though the two of you aren’t in an official relationship, having mutual respect is so vital. In casual relationships, respect is still in the mix. If you’re involved in a one-night stand, you still need to respect the person! Treat them with kindness and consider their feelings. Despite not being in an official relationship, having respect for each other is crucial. 

5. Set Your Own Expectations 

We all know how easy it is to let our imaginations run away with us. If you’re in a casual situation, get those relationship expectations out of your head! The high standards are only going to cause disappointment. The person might not call you multiple times a day, and they probably won’t surprise you with flowers. The whole point of being casual is to avoid the typical relationship ties. So, understanding them in your head is necessary! 

DoubleList graphic featuring a row of condoms in wrappers with cartoon arms walking into a bedroom for a casual hookup.

6. Keep Sex Safe 

If you’re keeping things casual, safe sex is super important. The reason for this is that you and your casual partner might be sleeping with other people, too. You might even need to have a conversation about your sexual relationship and the boundaries in place. Do you feel comfortable with them sleeping with other people? Do you want to do that yourself? If you’re having casual hookups, stay as safe as possible by using protection and getting regular STI checks. 

7. Make Safety a Priority 

Making your safety a priority is always a good idea. If you’re seeing someone casually, you might not know that much about them. Before meeting them for the first time, tell someone where you’re going. You could even check in with them during the date and make sure they know you’re doing OK. 

8. Try To Manage Jealousy 

When you’re dating someone and feelings are involved, it’s so hard to try and push away jealousy. You need to embrace freedom and let the other person have theirs. So, avoiding jealous feelings is always a good idea. 

During a casual stage, managing this is sometimes challenging as you don’t quite know where you stand. But your well-being will drastically increase if you can avoid it! 

9. Enjoy Yourself 

There’s a lot to love about casual dating and plenty of fun to have. If you’re newly single or you’re enjoying your freedom, embrace it! Throw yourself into it and enjoy a low level of commitment! If you’re feeling constantly stressed or worried about things, it’ll come across. 

If the other person picks up on your positive energy, they’ll feel those same things about you. Try to have as much fun as possible, and keep your happiness as a priority. 

10. Check In With Yourself 

Is the casual dynamic working for you? Are you still enjoying yourself? Make sure to keep an eye on your own emotions and check on how you’re feeling. If something feels off, that’s totally fine! You’re allowed to change your mind. Just make sure to check in with yourself and make sure you’re actually OK with the dynamic. Plus, if you feel like someone’s not for you, move on to the next! 

By following these rules on casual dating, you’ll have a lot more control over your feelings and the situation. Keeping things healthy, positive, and safe is so important, so put yourself first. Now is the time to do so without the ties and pressures of commitment. 

DoubleList animated graphic of a woman using a dating app for hookups and casual encounters.

Casual Dating Texting Rules 

In the world of modern dating, where would we be without our phones? They play a huge part in our dating experiences and help strengthen connections. We all know that little flash of excitement when we get a flirty text. But are there casual dating texting rules? 

Do I need to wait a while before I reply? Should I wait for them to start a conversation? Things can quickly get complicated. Following certain rules can keep you and your casual partner on the same page. They can also help to establish boundaries and respect the casual nature of your relationship. 

Here are some rules to follow:

1. Strike a Balance 

If you’re texting someone casually, don’t just assume it’s up to them to initiate conversation. Taking turns is important because it keeps things mutual and respectful. If they wait all day for you to send a text and you do the same, you’ll get nowhere. Remember, casual is all about keeping things relaxed. So, if you’ve not heard from them for a while, send them a text. 

2. Respect Response Times 

We’re all guilty of getting caught up in response times. They’ve not responded for three hours. Did I say the wrong thing? Have they changed their mind about me? This overthinking is not healthy, and it’s definitely not casual. Give them space to reply, and don’t worry if it takes a while. It is casual, after all.

3. Consider Your Response Times 

We’re not encouraging playing games here, but leaving some time before you respond is a good idea. You don’t want to come on too strong. If you’re recently out of a relationship, you might struggle with this concept a bit. You probably replied instantly to your past partner without even considering it. However, keeping this casual is essential. So, if you’re busy, that’s fine! Just respond when you can. 

DoubleList animated graphic of a happy couple riding a tandem bike in front of a mountain landscape.

4. Keep Things Fun 

We don’t really recommend getting into deep conversations with a casual partner; it screams relationship! Try to keep your texts as fun and flirty as possible. Plus, you can even make the most of having a sexting partner on hand if that’s what you like. Keep the topics light and playful to keep the attraction strong but also at arm’s length! 

5. Don’t Text Too Much 

If you’ve just met someone recently, avoid bombarding them with messages. You have to play it cool, remember? You can even leave a few days in between to avoid coming on too strong. If the other person’s at work and constantly getting messages from you, it might begin to annoy them. Just text them every now and then, and don’t put pressure on it. 

6. Don’t Ghost Them 

Has someone ever ghosted you? Ghosting someone is when you disappear without a trace. You don’t tell them you’re not interested or that you want different things. You just vanish. Being on the receiving end of this is not nice. 

If you’re not into someone, let them down gently. Be honest about how you’re feeling! If you just stop messaging them all of a sudden, you’ll cause them a lot of confusion and stress. This goes for in-person situations, too! Be honest if you’re not feeling it anymore, and let them know. 

By following these rules, you’ll keep things casual and won’t come on too strong. Plus, it gives you a chance to get to know them better without becoming too attached. 

Looking for a Casual Dating Partner? Try DoubleList! 

For all things casual, DoubleList is the place to be! The long-lost Craigslist Personals section inspires this open-minded dating site. It’s all about personal ads! Whether you want a one-night stand, friends-with-benefits, or a casual encounter, it’s all there! You’re free to explore your preferences and dive into dating. 
Find someone to follow casual dating rules with, and sign up for DoubleList today!

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