Defining casual dating can seem somewhat confusing; is it just sex? Does it mean seeing several people at one time? Is it just another term for friends with benefits? And the list of FAQs goes on.

Simply, casual dating is defined as a relationship that is most often (but not always) non-exclusive. Usually there is a degree of emotional attachment and involvement but until explicitly approved by both singles, either party is free to see other people.

Casual dating for UK singles may be the right thing for a plethora of reasons; you just got out of a serious long term relationship and don’t want to invest yet, you’re about to move abroad or you may just not be in the mood for a relationship and you desire full emotional independence.

The beauty with casual dating is that, like many things surrounding romantic relationships, it’s a spectrum. Two people who are casually dating may strike up an intimate friendship where they text or call almost everyday and spend nonsexual time together. On the other hand, a casual partner may be like a casual friendship where you see each other from once in a blue moon to once a quarter whenever you feel like spending time in each other’s company and catching up. Regardless of its nature, both parties in a casual dating relationship should always communicate when they need to cancel plans that have been made – whether sexual or otherwise.

When it comes to meeting potential partners for casual dating you can literally start anywhere. The key is confidence. If you find yourself attracted to the girl who works at the coffee shop outside your workplace, simply go up to her, strike up a pleasant conversation and politely ask if she would be interested in going for a drink sometime.

Another way to meet casual singles in the UK, of course, is dating sites that cater to casual dating. There are some sites which cater specifically to casual dating. Grindr, for example, is more widely known for creating casual relationships than serious ones although they do happen. Other sites are focused solely on building serious relationships and others are a free-for-all.

The difficulty faced by all types of singles however, is explicitly identifying whether the date is interested in a casual or serious relationship as these lines, particularly in the early stages, are blurred due to ambiguity. To make it easier, there are several ways you can tell by an individual’s profile and their behaviour on a date whether they are interested in casual dating or serious dating. Here’s to helping you find what you’re looking for whether it’s to avoid or attract partners who only want to date casually.

Their profile

The profile of a person with a casual attitude towards dating will often have fewer photos than those looking for a serious relationship. Furthemore, a casual profile will often show photos of the individual in casual spaces such as clubs, bars and parties. A serious dating profile will show a diverse variety of photos taken with their family, pets and in more familial and domestic spaces. Additionally, a casual bio will be more humorous or witty whereas a serious bio will dictate what the individual is hoping for and specifically searching to find on the site.

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Their relationship with their phone

A casual date will likely be more protective over their phone if they’re in contact with a number of dates or potential dates – and rightly so and this could make the date awkward. They might show you something on their phone but keep hold of it, refusing to give you full control in case you swipe.

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Their conversation and language surrounding the future

It’s important for all of us to live in the present but there is an excitement to discussing the future of a serious relationship with your partner as part of the love comes from wanting to invest in each others’ hopes and dreams and thus build a life together. This is not the case for a casual relationship. Although each partner may trust, admire and even love each other in a platonic and/or sexual way, there is zero guarantee that this relationship will last forever nor that each partner depends on the other for their future.
You can tell how invested a partner is in a shared future through their language. A casual dater will use first person narrative “I hope for this” “I would like to do that” “I’ll probably go with some friends” etc. A serious dater will use words like “we” over “I” and make you feel included or reciprocated in their conversations surrounding the future.

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How long they take to reply to your messages

A casual dater does not always need to put their casual partner as a first priority. Their priority may be work, family, alone time or even other casual partners. A casual dater may also text in a hot and cold manner. On days where you are due to meet them, they may text often and respond quickly whereas at other times you may not hear from them for weeks. Of course, different people communicate differently and even some serious daters may take half a day or even a full twelve hours to reply as they may not be people that spend a lot of time on their phone. However, delayed replies that are regular are the sign of a casual relationship.

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They date solely in the evening

A casual dater is on the whole less likely to meet for brunch or a picnic than they are for a drink at 9pm. Serious daters however are willing to use their most valuable hours of free time like Sunday afternoons, bank holidays and frequent Saturday evenings. Evening dates often lead to sexual encounters and if these types of dates make up the bulk then most likely, this is reflective of a casual dating style.

Most importantly, both serious and casual dating should be respected as different dating styles suit different people and specific stages of life. What is paramount is communication. A partner – whether casual or serious – should never be kept in the dark about the nature of the relationship and each partner’s intentions should be communicated and reciprocated in order for a fruitful relationship or friendship to thrive.