‘Casual dating’ is a very loose term and many people find different definitions to suite their situation but what, in essence, does the term mean? Most would say that it is two people wanting to get to know each other whilst staying away from any real commitments. In addition to this, monogamy is not a priority because both are happy to have casual relationships with others.
Friends with benefits is entirely different from casual dating because while there is no commitment here either, there is also no intentions to move past the platonic phase. Casual dating suggests that both parties are assessing the other to determine whether something serious could ever happen between the two.
This can be a great way to start for people who have just left a long-term relationship; if they feel as though they aren't quite ready to jump straight back in with commitment, they can start casual dating and let things build slowly. This will help to establish whether there is something behind the casual sex or whether the two just do not match in any way.
The term can be confusing and there are many important questions that need answering to be clear on the topic in hand;
Is it a relationship? - In short, no. The key difference between the two is the term ‘relationship’ and how commitment applies to each. For example, most people would define a relationship as a romantic partnership with a commitment and a promise of some kind. However, casual dating does not have a commitment so therefore cannot be categorised as a ‘relationship’.
Is it an open relationship? - Again, the short and easy answer to this is no. A casual relationship is like a ‘pre’ relationship phase in which both parties are seeing if there is potential to move forward together. An open relationship is one that has commitment but there is an openness that allows them to date, or have sex, with others. The key difference here is commitment because there is a level of commitment in an open relationship.
Is it ‘no strings attached’? - The intention is the difference between these two terms again because if two people are having no strings attached sex, it suggests that they have no intention to take it further. However, with casual dating, there is at least the possibility that things could go further if both parties wanted it to.
Can people who are casually dating someone date others? - There is no simple answer to this question because each situation is different. The easiest way to determine what kind of relationship someone is in is to discuss this with the other person; if one believes they are just casual dating, the other is free to do this also. This may change over time if both parties decide that they want to add a level of commitment but again, this will occur after a discussion.