10 Pros and Cons of Casual Dating

woman in white shirt lying on the ground

Casual dating is many things – it’s fun and sexy, freeing and exhilarating. For a lot of us, it can be scary and confusing. Meet the right person, and casual dating can be the first chapter in your forever after. It might be rare, but it still happens. Then again, it can also turn out awkward and humiliating.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? With casual dating, you never know.

This unpredictable nature of non-traditional relationships is what makes them so exciting in the first place. Well, that, among many other things.

There are also more than a few reasons why somebody would find casual partnerships tempting. The hookup scene is traditionally popular among young, sexually curious, and emotionally inexperienced people. It’s also a welcoming place for many who’ve had little to no luck in love.

Whatever the case, casual dating is a highly subjective experience. You might find it is for you, or you might regret it in the morning. A word of advice for you – don’t. Every experience is a teaching moment, and every casual hookup is an opportunity to learn something new about yourself.

If that doesn’t help, we’ve prepared a little pros and cons list.

Here’s why casual dating can be good for you and what to be careful about:

Pro 1: Casual dating gives you the time to figure things out

Meaningful relationships are the crowning jewels of adult life, and as it often happens with jewels, gems, and other valuable stones, relationships of this kind are notoriously hard to find. The more valuable they are, the harder it is to maintain them. It’s yet another reason why adulting is so hard.

But here is some good news – growing up takes time. There’s no need to rush.

And another thing – nobody knows what they’re doing.

Nothing is for certain in this age of complicated human relationships. Traditional relationships sometimes fail after years of mutual love and respect without any particular reason. Nobody can tell for sure that they’re committed for life. Love is magnificently fickle and random.

The only constant is you.

Why not take this time to figure things out and have fun in the process? Casual dating is so special because it allows you to learn who you are in a romantic context. Even more than that, it gives you the freedom and time to solidify yourself as a self-sufficient individual and an adult.

Con 1: You might be wasting your time on meaningless hookups

From another perspective, casual dating may seem like a waste of precious time.

It’s really not, but it may seem like it, and we can see why.

If your plan is to fall in love eventually and experience domestic bliss, years and years of futureless flings might start to feel empty and meaningless. The romantic in you might end up disappointed. After a while, your dreams and illusions might suffer from the practicality of casual connection.

The danger of casual dating is that some people never stop doing it. Depending on where you stand and who you are as a person, this might feel like a blessing or a curse.

For this and other reasons, casual dating comes with several rules. One of them is to have flexible expectations. If you’re already dreaming of a white picket fence, you should know there are no guarantees in hookups. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in relationships either.

Pro 2: Casual dating is a great way to experience new things

Just think of everything that life has to offer! The people, the places, the experiences! For one reason or another, this is all a pipe dream for many of us in traditional relationships. Partners often want different things from life. Or, there’s not enough money to savor life’s many pleasures.

That’s something you never have to think about in casual relationships.

Having multiple partners means spending time with different kinds of people. It’s an opportunity, and a unique one, to experience people and life holistically. With no strings attached, casual daters are free to roam and travel, be that from one restaurant to another or from country to country.

Many artists would say this is the definition of living your life to the fullest.

Think of it this way – the more experienced you are, the easier it is to build and maintain a genuine relationship. The diversity that comes from experiences will help you discover new wisdom and flexibility. Loving and being loved by the right person is easy when you have both.

Con 2: You might experience something bad or unpleasant

Casual dating doesn’t only imply having multiple partners. By definition, it also means that your partners will have multiple partners too. You might be comfortable with this in theory, but you should know that reality is sometimes unpleasant. You can never know who you’re hooking up with.

One major advantage of conventional dating is that it gives you enough time to get to know the person behind the nice smile and good manners. Even then, people can still surprise and let you down. We all have a few skeletons in our closets, but they’re not always cute and innocent like yours.

With hookups, there’s always a certain risk of experiencing something bad. That may range from kissing a person with bad breath to sleeping with a person with an STD.

However, there are ways to stay safe while dating casually. Always look out for the red flags – with time, you’ll get better and better at noticing them. Avoid drinking and doing drugs when you’re meeting somebody for the first time. If you’re using dating apps, choose trusty ones that give you control.

And, of course, always use protection.

Pro 3: Casual dating allows you to find your true expression

People often lose themselves in relationships.

Be that out of love or because we don’t know any better, some of us have a tendency to belittle who we are and make our significant others feel more important. If we’re lucky enough to meet a kind person, this uneven dynamic can sometimes work. Way more often, it becomes very toxic.

If this is your story, it might be that you still don’t know how you are.

Don’t worry. A lot of us are in the same place.

Casual dating might be able to help you with minor personality issues. It’s like being in a relationship, only without any consequences. It might give you the freedom you need to express yourself without apologizing. Even if you doubt yourself or do something wrong, it doesn’t matter.

Take this as an opportunity to practice your dating style. What makes you comfortable, and what would you rather avoid? Do you like being independent, or do you need someone to take care of you? These are all important things to figure out before you start looking for a long-term partner.

Con 3: You might discover a person you don’t like so much

Self-discovery is never easy. If you enter the casual dating scene with this particular goal in mind, you might get more than you’ve bargained for. Even without any emotional involvement, feeling exposed and embarrassed in front of another person can be a traumatic experience.

Besides, you might discover a few things about yourself that you won’t like.

Don’t allow self-doubt to get the best of you.

Making mistakes is human, and we’re here to learn. If you’re still searching for your true form, then nothing is definite. Even if you discover a character trait, an obsession, or a weak spot that you don’t deem flattering, there’s always time to change. Never be ashamed of your flaws.

The most important thing is that you’ve discovered them on time.

However, you should know that casual dating can be a bit harsh, especially on highly sensitive people. In extreme cases, it can even lead to anxiety and depression. It can be avoided if you approach it with the right mindset. If you’re just getting to know yourself, go slowly, and don’t be ashamed.

Pro 4: Casual dating can help you become more confident

Confidence is knowing all your strengths and weaknesses.

What better way to discover them than to dance, flirt, and kindle a connection with a fascinating person? Many people fail to recognize just how special they are unless somebody comes out and makes them see it. Especially for single people, that means a lot of doubt and low self-esteem.

If you don’t have a partner to tell you how great you are, why not engage in an occasional love fest with a random, casual dater? Not only will flirting make you feel attractive and wanted, but it will also allow you to work on different seduction techniques without the fear of being turned down.

If you don’t have another reason, casual dating can also motivate you to work out.

Not that physical appearance is of crucial importance, but many people need to feel attractive to feel confident. And that’s okay, as long as it’s reasonable and healthy. Whatever you think is your most attractive quality, there’s a casual dater out there waiting to compliment it.

Con 4: You might become less confident in a relationship

In rare cases, casual dating might lower a person’s self-esteem.

It might happen when people are intimate with strangers they don’t like. Lowering your standards to feel any kind of connection is not very healthy, and it always affects your sense of self-worth. How we choose our sexual partners mirrors how highly we think of ourselves.

It can be especially problematic for people who enter a steady relationship after their confidence has been damaged by making poor hookup choices. Before we can be loved and respected, we must feel confident enough to earn that. Without any self-esteem, love is short-lived.

If you’re experimenting with casual dating, try not to settle for less.

Going below your standards just for the sake of hooking up might have long-lasting effects on your mental health and future relationship choices. Keep your confidence by knowing who you are and what you like. Don’t go out with the first person to say hi to avoid feeling lonely.

Pro 5: Casual dating takes the stress out of the relationship

Being in a loving relationship is not without its challenges. In between moments of love and devotion, there’s almost always something to worry about. Many of these things are practical, but that still takes the magic out of the moment – when emotions are at stake, you’re always on guard.

To certain people, all this might feel exhausting.

Believe it or not, some people commit to not committing, not because they can’t find a steady partner, but because they don’t want one. They would rather take the uncertainty of casual hookups than the everyday stress of maintaining a healthy relationship with their loved ones.

That might seem odd as a life choice but is perfectly acceptable as a temporary pitstop. Casual dating provides an excellent alternative to traditional romantic relationships for people who are too busy building a career or taking care of their children. It’s clean and convenient, not to mention fun.

When no emotions are involved, casual dating can be surprisingly relaxing.

Con 5: You might start feeling stressed about not being in one

On the other hand, casual dating might not be enough.

It’s not so rare for casual daters to start craving something more than just chit-chat and physical intimacy. Whether because we require authentic connection or because we’ve been doing it for a long time, some of us eventually start feeling stressed about not pursuing serious romantic prospects.

The solution is often simple – stop doing what makes you feel anxious.

The entire point of casual hookups is to achieve, or at least simulate, the ecstasy and happiness of being able to connect with another human being. In any form, this is a precious thing. Through intimacy, we offer comfort and consolation to each other. Ultimately, that’s what hookups are about.

The moment you stop enjoying this kind of intimacy, you should start looking for a deeper connection. Loneliness is not good enough reason to keep doing something you don’t feel completely comfortable with, especially if there’s sex involved. You’ll only end up more alone and deeply hurt.

Hookups should be fun, comforting, and liberating, nothing more, nothing less.

Casual dating is many things, but hurtful is not one of them. If you still can’t decide whether or not to hook up with that sexy stranger from the night before, we suggest you make your own list of pros and cons. That alone might help you discover what kind of person you are and how comfortable you’ll be in a casual relationship. Stay safe and good luck!