Thursday, June 17, 2010

How to Keep Things Casual (Without Getting Hurt)

We usually advise our readers to stay away from casual dating.

A lot of hearts get broken in that gray zone between committed relationship and platonic friendship, and most 20-something women have outgrown the highs and lows that come from just hooking up (even if they aren’t willing to admit it) and, deep down, they’re looking for something more serious.

But sometimes you’re six months away from moving to a new city, or you just got out of a really serious relationship, and you just need to have some fun!

If you know what you’re getting yourself into (and this involves more than just telling yourself that you know what you’re getting into and that you won’t get attached—namely, spending some time figuring out what you are getting into and when it’ll be time to pull out), casual dating doesn’t have to be a scarring experience.

But successful casual dating is less about getting attached and more about respect and honesty.

Honesty might seem counterintuitive when you’re engaging in nonmonogamous sex, but the key to getting the most out of something neither of you is putting a lot into is making sure that you feel comfortable.

But to understand how that works, we need to talk about respect. The problem with most noncommitted relationships is that they can be the worst thing to happen to a girl’s self esteem since middle school happened.

When a guy engages in typical blow-off behavior (e.g., responding to a text two days later, only calling when he wants sex), the girl has a tendency to blame it on herself. She thinks that if only she were prettier or blonder or skinnier, he’d be showing up at her door with flowers every night, when in reality it’s probably her behavior, and not her looks, that are driving him away.

If a guy expresses sexual interest in you and then falls off the face of the planet, it’s probably because you made yourself too available. If you’re going to be engaging in casual sex, you have to realize that, and when it happens, you need to examine your behavior, not spend an extra three hours at the gym.

Casual dating can sometimes wreck havoc on your self-esteem. You meet a guy, hook up a few times, maybe come off as a little too eager, and then he starts blowing you off. So you think, “Oh, OK, he’s too hot/rich/smart for me—I need to focus on guys who are in my league. But also maybe he didn’t realize that I was interested, so he went off to find someone who was.” So then you start seeing this guy who maybe isn’t as good on paper (or in person). You hook up a few times, but you’re not going to make the same mistakes you did with the last guy. You start telling him how much you like him on the third date, and then he never asks you out on a fourth. You decide to lower your standards and up the eagerness. You’re miles out of the new guy’s league, and you tell him you love him on the second date, and when he tells you he doesn’t want to see you anymore, you can’t believe you got dumped by the unemployed 40-year-old your friend’s aunt set you up with.

Sometimes you can avoid this by being upfront. Tell him that you’re not looking for anything serious.

But if he does start blowing you off, or mentioning other people he’s seeing, or doing anything else that makes you feel shitty about yourself, break it off.

It’s not worth your sense of self worth—and this is what vibrators were invented for.


  1. Nicely done. I think this post had a nice flow, but kind of wish it focused on the 1st half (how to best situate yourself in a casual encounter) as opposed to the second (how bad these casual encounters can be for girls' self-esteem). I think more should be discussed about respect and honesty/communication. If both parties have respect for themselves and each other, and can communicate honestly what they're looking for, I can't imagine casual dating/sex would be that complicated--clearly that's usually not the case in real life.

    1. This is one of the most compelling and honest posts Ive read about casual dating. Yet, because it does "hit too close to home", an education on what to expect from casual dating and how to positively deal with it would be more helpful for me as well.

  2. The closer I get to 30 the less and less I believe in casual dating. I've had a lot of fun dating and have had some quite unique experiences that I still can laugh about. At this point in my life I'm not looking for someone to just hang out with or a friend with benefits. That's getting old. While, I'm not in a rush to get married, when I date now it's dating with a purpose. Why waste time with someone who's not in the same place?

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  3. HadSexWith2ManyWomenJune 26, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    As a serial casual dater, I've come to believe that talk of mutual respect in such situations is b*lls**t. No matter what kind of face you put on things, you are using each other, and in my experience one or the other person almost always ends up feeling hurt in these situations.

  4. One of the most interesting and worth reading blog I read.

  5. i cant even comment properly on this! hits too close to home lol

  6. I was lucky enough to meet the right man eventually on, of ALL places. Bizarre. He doesn't even LIKE the internet very much. Anyway, it's not a never-ending cycle of no, sometimes you do get lucky. I've been with my man for two and a half years now and I've been very happy. You just got to keep trying and keep your dating pool fresh.