This is what casual dating really means—according to the experts

Does casual dating just equal sex?

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(Image credit: Getty Images / Caroline Tompkins / Refinery29 for Getty Images)

It’s universally acknowledged that dating can sometimes suck. Whether it's casual dating, side-stepping toxic dating trends like ‘situationships’ and cookie-jarring or actually finding someone who wants the same things as you, it can sometimes feel like a never-ending circle of disappointment. And when it comes to ‘casual’ dating, experts have revealed that it can can lead to a whole lot of misunderstanding.

Casual dating usually means keeping things slow, no labels like boyfriend/girlfriend, and often, seeing more than one person at a time. It’s often seen as an uncomplicated way of dating because you’re keeping things chilled with no pressure, no jealousy—but sadly, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

According to dating app Happn (opens in new tab), there’s a big difference in what people think the phrase ‘looking for something casual’ means.

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(Image credit: Getty Images / Cavan Images)


They found that overall, 37% of users think that wanting a casual relationship effectively means that the person wants to have casual sex, with over half of women on the app agreeing with this.

Whereas on the flip side—43% of men think it means that that person wants to take things slowly and see how things go, (compared to just 15% of women.)

Dating expert Ipek Kucuk says: “Choosing your intentions on dating apps is essential. When all parties are aligned on their wants and needs, there will then be less upset further down the line.” 

“However, we can see that intentions are also open to interpretation," she added. "If there is uncertainty, then I’d always encourage daters to speak up and directly question their Crush’s opinions before engaging any further. We must never underestimate the power of asking a question, especially in our love lives.”

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(Image credit: Getty Images / Stephen Zeigler)

The important takeaway is, keeping it casual is fine, as long as everyone involved knows exactly what ‘casual’ means in your situation.

There are definitely ways to make your intentions crystal clear. From having it in your profile that you like to ‘take things slow and see where they go’ or on your first day you make it clear you’re not into rushing, or in cases where it does mean you’re after a bit of a fling—lead with that. Honesty is usually, the best policy.

Naomi Jamieson
Lifestyle News Writer

Naomi is a Lifestyle News Writer with the Women's Lifestyle team and has recently earned her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ. She has a background in design, having studied Illustration at Plymouth University but has taken a leap into the world of journalism after always having a passion for writing. She currently writes pieces on beauty, trends, fashion, and entertainment for GoodTo and My Imperfect Life. She also tests and reviews beauty and skincare products and tries out the latest TikTok hacks for My Imperfect Life.


Before working for Future Publishing’s Lifestyle News team, she worked in the Ad production team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping.