The Pros And Cons Of Casual Dating (And Where To Get Dating Therapy Online)

Updated April 15, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team

If you've heard someone say they have a "friend with benefits," you already know a little about casual dating. Casual dating is a bit of an umbrella term, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: dating that is not for the purpose of developing or entering serious relationships. Sometimes, people who date casually are looking for sexual connections, but that’s not always the case. Casual dating can also refer to going on casual dates, typically with various people, for fun and self-exploration. 

Casual dating can be tricky to navigate

What draws someone to casual dating?

Today's daters and relationship-seekers have more options to date their way, and they are doing just that. Casual dating usually refers to a non-serious and short-term form of dating where both partners enter into the relationship with a short-term mindset and no-strings-attached requirements.

This means that casual daters usually aren't interested in falling in love with the people they see or forming a long-term relationship. A casual dater won’t necessarily remain a casual dater forever. Often, it’s something that people are drawn to during an exploratory period in life, or a time where they want connection but don’t want to settle down quite yet. 

People who are looking for long-term, serious relationships often don't mesh well with a casual dater. A casual dater's interest is short term, and they normally let you know this upfront. Regardless of the choices you make, be sure to understand that casual dating relationships rarely lead to anything serious. Having expectations of anything more can leave you feeling hurt or confused. 

For some, casual dating is an incredibly important experience and part of life. 

The pros and cons of casual dating


While short-term dating may not be the choice for everyone, it is a viable choice that works for some people. People who enter short-term relationships often do so with the awareness that they aren't ready to commit to a serious relationship and are simply seeking companionship and someone to spend time with intermittently. When casual dating is used in this way, we can easily see why some people choose this route as an alternative to pursuing a serious relationship that still might not work out. In casual dating, the agreements made are normally mutual and transparent, with everyone involved understanding that the relationship isn't meant to last. 

With that said, here are some possible pros and cons:


1. It can help you get to know yourself better. 

When you date casually, you can learn a lot about yourself and what you need in relationships. You’ll get a chance to brush up on upfront communication, and you’ll probably make mistakes that will teach you what you don’t want to do when you’re in future relationships. You might find out that certain personalities or lifestyles aren’t for you.

2. It can be a lot of fun.

Casual dating has a carefree element to it. Connections feel fresh and exciting. You’re aware that there are fewer expectations and that the people you come across will generally be at a relatively similar or relatable spot in terms of life and how they feel about relationships. If you’re recently divorced or separated from a long-term partner, you might meet others in the same boat. If you just started dating again after a long hiatus, are planning to move and/or travel, etc., you might meet others with the same circumstances. Many people find that dating casually makes them feel free and that they have a great time while doing it. 

3. It introduces you to new people, places, and things.

Casual dating often means that you’ll be exposed to multiple new people. In turn, you’ll learn from these people and the experiences you have with them. Have you ever been on a date that exposed you to a favorite new restaurant or a new hobby? For example, maybe you tried bowling, hiking, painting, a new beverage, or a new cuisine on a date for the first time, and it became something that you absolutely love now. This is something to savor; take your time as a casual dater and view this as an opportunity to explore new things. 

4. It gives you the chance to focus on yourself.

You can focus on yourself and your personal growth regardless of your relationship status, but some people find that not being in a serious relationship gives them extra time and space to focus on themselves. This is a great time to develop a solid self-care routine and find out what you need to do to be the best version of yourself. That way, if you do choose to enter a serious relationship in the future, those practices will be solidified. You will have a better idea of what you need to do for yourself and that you need to find a partner who supports you in those things. 


1. Sometimes, a person will catch feelings.

When your intentions are to date casually, you still risk that one or both of you will develop a crush that isn’t quite so casual. This doesn’t always happen, but it can. Limiting the time you spend with someone can help. If you notice that this happens, it’s best to tell the other person and talk it out. They might then decide that they want to be friends only, and that can hurt.

2. The communication aspect takes courage. 

Say that you or the other person does indeed develop feelings. It’s hard to hear that someone doesn’t like you as much as you like them, and it’s also challenging to be the one telling someone else that you don’t want something deeper. 

3. It can be tough to find other casual daters. 

Some people want casual dating, and other people want serious relationships. Neither is better than the other, but there are times when it can be tough to find people who want the same thing. This is part of why dating apps can be helpful for those who wish to date casually. Dating apps and websites allow you to say what you’re looking for right on your profile. 

4. Some people may think they can change your mind.

Be wary of the fact that there are some people who might talk to you knowing full well that you’re interested in casual dating and attempt to initiate something more serious. Firm boundaries are often useful if this happens. Reiterate that you are only looking for something casual and consider ending the relationship if someone isn’t on the same page. 

How can you prevent the cons or downsides? In short, you’ll generally want to be clear as day with your intentions or goals and maintain transparency with yourself and your dates. When people engage in casual dating without clear goals, the results can become disastrous as miscommunications and false expectations tend to cause emotional harm to the casual dater and their chosen counterparts. When casual daters aren't clear or honest about their expectations, people looking for something more serious can get confused or see your pursuits as mixed signals. They want something more. A casual dater may also find themselves in a sticky spot if they enter a relationship without setting clear expectations, boundaries, and rules.

Casual dating sites online

Casual dating sites have become popular with people who are looking for something other than commitment in their dating lives. Casual dating sites have a variety of themes that facilitate various connections.

Casual daters often visit these sites to find quick love, romance, or fun. Some casual dating sites are subscription-based sites that require a joining fee to join. Joining fees can range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars, depending on the dating site you join. When you search online for "casual dating sites," you'll find results for websites that offer hookups, friends with benefits situations, one-night stands, fetishes, and more. Not all casual dating sites online have a sexual undertone, but some of them do.

If you’re less interested in sex and more interested in going on dates or meeting new people, there are a number of standard dating apps that allow you to specify that you’re there to date casually on your profile. It may be helpful to go into additional depth with regard to what you’re looking for in the “about me” or biography section of a dating site or app. 

If you decide to use online dating services of any kind, make sure to prioritize your safety. Using a dating app for any purpose means that you run the risk of things like catfishing, scams, or people with ill intentions. Before a date, tell someone you trust where you will be and make sure you have a safety plan in place. 

Get relationship therapy online

Getty/Luis Alvarez
Casual dating can be tricky to navigate

Many people who date on a casual basis are on a journey. Just like some people date casually after a divorce or separation, some people casually date when they recently learned something new about themselves or are going through another life change. Of course, some people also casually date simply because they enjoy it and it is the best fit for them at the time. There’s no right or wrong reason to date casually, and if you go about it with awareness, it can be a rewarding experience. 

Regardless of your personal circumstances and what draws you to dating casually, it’s a completely valid thing to do. As long as all parties involved are aware of the circumstances, casual dating can be healthy and life-enhancing. It’s a way to socialize, which can benefit a person's health in a number of ways, both mental and physical.

Whether you’re dating casually, are in a relationship, or simply want someone to talk to about something else that’s going on in your world, a therapist can help. You can find a therapist near you by searching for terms like “relationship therapist near me,” seeing what your insurance company covers, or asking for a referral.

About online therapy

Leading therapy platforms like Regain are known for providing relationship therapy, couples counseling, and marriage therapy with a licensed therapist. 

Regain is one of the only platforms dedicated solely to providing marriage and relationship therapy with a dedicated therapist.

Online therapy platforms like these are options you will find when searching online for dating therapy or using therapist finders and therapy matching sites like MyTherapist.


Casual dating is a short-term form of dating, where people often mutually agree to form convenient relationships. If you feel that it’s right for you, use proper safety measures; and if you need support at any point in time, whether related to relationships or anything else, don’t hesitate to reach out to a licensed counselor or therapist.

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