casual-dating-vs-seriousSo you are dating a terrific person – should you try to progress from casual dating to a committed relationship or “just leave it alone?” In this day and age, is there really a difference between casual dating and a committed relationship? Well, in today’s society, a romantic relationship is often characterized by a “title.” In other words, the “seriousness” of a relationship is based on whether the individuals are casual dating” or “in a committed relationship.” Most of the time, “casual dating,” also known as “friends with benefits” suggests that the relationship is not very serious.

In a “casual dating” situation you may be dating multiple people are you may be concentrating on the person you are “casually dating.” You may see each other occasionally (i.e. weekends or every couple of weeks) or you may see each other every day or the majority of the week. Moreover, “casual dating” may or may not include sex. The exact definition and “rules” of “casual dating” depend on you and your partner and is based on your wants, needs and expectations. Conversely, a committed relationship suggests that you are in a monogamous relationship.

In other words, you are completely committed to one another. In this situation, you are solely focused on one another. You are not “dating” anyone else. In the majority of cases, couples that are in a serious, committed relationship are interested in a possible future together (i.e. marriage, children and/or a long-term romantic partnership). It is important to note that both types of relationships have their advantages and disadvantages. No relationship is “better” than the other. What really matters is what type of relationship is best for you.

If you are wondering if there really is a difference between casual dating and a committed relationship – you have come to the right place. This blog will help you determine if you are ready to take the next step in your relationship.

• “Seriousness” of the Relationship

In order to be in a committed relationship, both you and your partner need to agree to be “serious” with one another. In other others, you need to invest your time, energy, love, support and affection towards your partner. When you enter into a serious, committed relationship, your main goal is to develop a strong foundation that will last throughout time. A committed couple trusts, respects, loves, supports, values and uplifts one another. This couple communicates and sees each other on a regular basis. They are also heavily involved in each other’s lives.

For instance, a couple in a serious relationship knows each other’s friends, relatives, preferences, “hang out” locations, “likes and dislikes,” work location, hobbies, etc. Even if they have never met their partner’s friends and/or family, they still feel like they know them, due to hearing stories about them. It is also not uncommon to have met each other’s parents and/or loved ones. This couple may be working towards a future together (i.e. engagement, marriage and a family). On the other hand, a couple who is “casually dating” may not have as many expectations (i.e. long-term partnership, engagement, marriage and/or a family). In other words, the level of “seriousness” in this type of relationship is low.

In a “casual dating” situation, you may or may not communicate and/or see each other on a daily or weekly basis. In fact, you may only see each other occasionally. In addition, you may not have met each other’s family and/or friends. Moreover, the relationship may consist purely of sex. It is also important to note that there may be feelings of “detachment,” although you may be really good friends. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to start off “casually dating” only to find out that you have more in common then you originally thought. In these situations, “casual dating” often progresses into a committed relationship.

• Monogamy vs. Causal Dating

One of the main differences between a serious, committed relationship and “causal dating” is that individuals in a committed relationship tend to be monogamous. In other words, you do not “date” other people. In a “casual dating” relationship, you are not required to be monogamous. In fact, you can date multiple people, if you so choose or you can just date each other. It is important to note that “casual dating” can lead to unfulfilled romantic feelings. It can also lower your self-esteem, if you are not mentally and emotionally prepared for a “temporary, low-key, non-serious” relationship. In fact, a “casual dating” relationship can actually ruin a good friendship, if one of you wants more, but the other one does not.

Although many enter into a “casual dating” situation lamenting commitments, there is always a possibility that one of the “casual daters” will fall in love and be hurt when the feelings are not returned. In a committed relationship, there is always the risk that you are more invested in the relationship then your partner. If both of you are not 100% committed to the relationship, there is the risk of infidelity and betrayal. There is also the risk of investing trust and love into the relationship later to realize that the two of you are not compatible. In other words, there is always a chance of heartbreak. A broken relationship, regardless of the type, can have detrimental effects on your self-esteem and ability to trust others.

• Emotional and Physical Intimacy

Regardless, of whether you are in a committed relationship or a “casual dating” relationship, there is a good chance you are or will be having sex. The primary difference between these two types of relationships is that “casual daters” can have sex with multiple people without “cheating” on anyone. In other words, you are not required to be “faithful” to one person. In a committed relationship, you both agree to restrict your sexual relations with other people. In other words, you are not allowed to participate in sexual activities with other people. In most cases, there is a deeper sexual and emotional connection in relationships, in which both partners are committed to one another.

Trust, love and respect tend to be stronger in committed relationships. Why? Well in a committed relationship both individuals are 100% invested in the relationship. In other words, you are looking to build a foundation with you partner that could possible lead to a long-term relationship (i.e. marriage and/or a family). You care about each other’s feelings, both in bed and out of it. Moreover, in most cases, you are in love or on their way to being “in love.” You care for one another deeply. Furthermore, you are able to experience both emotional and sexual satisfaction because you know that your love affair is not fleeting and that you can depend on each other through both good and bad.

“Casual daters” often want to have “fun” and date around. They are not interested in being “tied down” to one person indefinitely. This type of dating situation provides you with an opportunity to “hang out,” go places and have fun with other couples, without the restrictions and obligations associated with a committed relationship. In addition, “casual daters” tend to be younger individuals (i.e. older teens and young adults), while those in a long-term committed relationship tend to be older and more experienced in life and relationships. It is important to note that younger individuals can also be in successful committed relationships and older individuals can also be in successful “casual dating” relationships. Couples in a committed relationship tend to be more focused on building a life together. They are typically focused on learning more about each other.

Staff Writer:
Dr. R. Y. Langham

References:
Grohol, J. M. (2014). Friends with benefits. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/11/03/friends-with-benefits/

Williams, A. (2005). Casual relationships, yes. Casual sex, not really. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/03/fashion/03HOOKUP.html?_r=0