Today, so much of the stigma that used to accompany choosing a more casual approach dating is gone, and with good reason. People finally understand that knowing you’re not ready for a relationship is a sign of maturity, rather than the opposite.
That said, dating and sex don’t always have to be super serious for them to be worthwhile. But things can quickly get dicey if you unexpectedly start catching feelings for anyone in particular, so it’s good to have a game plan in place to prevent that. Here’s are some tips to get started with.
Make sure you’re ready.
Casual dating can be an awesome experience if it’s truly right for you. But so many people only think they’re ready for that when what they’re really looking to do is get over a recent heartbreak or reinvent themselves after a breakup.
Of course, there’s no law out there that says going out and getting laid can’t be part of your breakup recovery plan, but it’s important to be honest with yourself about why you’re doing it. Sex had for the wrong reasons tends to get people hurt, and that’s the opposite of what you need if you’re still getting over someone.
Be honest about what you’re looking for.
Remember, casual dating is socially acceptable these days, so there’s no need to lead anyone on and pretend you’re looking for something you’re not just to get what you want. Be upfront with the people you date right out of the gate so they can make an informed decision about whether they want the same thing you do.
If you find you have trouble meeting other like-minded people to have fun with, try switching to a dating platform that caters specifically to people looking for no-strings-attached connections, open relationships, and casual sex. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of evaluating your choices.
Set ground rules.
People have all sorts of different approaches to casual dating. Some prefer indulging in the occasional one-night encounter or otherwise keeping their options completely open. But others eventually meet someone with whom they’d like to have a friends-with-benefits style relationship.
If you do wind up meeting someone you’d like to casually see on an ongoing basis, it’s important to set ground rules right at the beginning to avoid any misunderstandings or hurt feelings down the line. How often will you see each other? What’s your desired approach to sleeping with other people? Is hanging out outside of a sexual context allowed or off-limits?
Keep dating other people.
One of the best ways to make sure you don’t unexpectedly catch feelings for someone you’re casually dating is to make sure you keep seeing other people. Again, there’s no law that says you have to do that, because your dating life is your own, but getting to see other people is supposed to be part of the point of keeping things casual in the first place.
Continuing to see others keeps expectations low and the actual situation between you and your FWB feeling free and unfettered. You should also encourage the other person to do the same. Feelings can complicate things just as badly when it’s the other person who develops them.
Keep things light and breezy.
Although you don’t have to keep things between you and the people you casually date strictly sexual, you want to keep your interactions on the light side. Remember, this is a connection that’s supposed to all about having fun and nothing else.
In other words, this isn’t someone to be telling your deepest, darkest secrets to or turning to for heavy support with something major going on in your life. Engaging in much more than simple small talk is just asking for feelings to develop for one or both of you.
Set meet-up limits.
Ongoing casual relationships tend to work best when you set strict boundaries, especially when it comes to how much time you’ll be spending together. At the very least, it keeps anyone from developing expectations that will lead to hurt feelings if they’re not met by the other person.
Let’s say you got together for a meet-up and had enough fun to want to do it again soon. Sure, you can set that next meetup for sooner rather than later, but it shouldn’t necessarily mean tomorrow. Decide up front how many times a week or month you’ll get together and stick to that limit with plenty of space in between get-togethers. The more time you start spending together, the more likely someone’s going to be to catch feelings.
Don’t overthink anything.
One of the best ways to get the most out of casual dating is to avoid overthinking it too much. Yes, you should give some thought to what boundaries and ground rules you want to set, especially in the beginning. But the whole point of casual dating is to keep on doing your own things without worrying about it too much.
So don’t spend too much energy ruminating over the situation or wondering about the other person’s actions. If you really do have a burning question, you need an answer to, you can always just ask the person, but beyond that? Just relax and have a good time.
Stop things if feelings develop.
Sometimes despite your best efforts and all the precautions in the world, one of you might start catching feelings at some point, and that’s understandable. It’s hard to date or have sex without beginning to feel a certain closeness after a while. But have an action plan in place just in case.
If you know you still don’t want a relationship and aren’t ready for one, the best course of action is probably to stop seeing the person before those feelings grow deeper and cause more problems. But if you’re open to the idea of something else, you can always discuss that with the person to see if they feel the same. Together you can find a solution that works well for both of you.