You're Sucking The Fun Out Of Dating—Here Are 3 Reasons To Be More Casual In Your Love Life

Casual dating is often equated with casual sex and flings, making it a taboo subject for those who want to settle down and find their future spouse. But casual dating isn’t casual sex, and it isn’t the antagonist of marriage-seeking singles. In fact, I believe it may be what the dating world is missing right now.

By Katie Peterson5 min read
Pexels/Wesley Davi

While dating can look different to everyone, in my experience, we’re a culture of over- and under-commitment with little in between.

On the one hand, you have hookup culture and dating without intention, where singles are focused on the here and now, not the potential for a spouse. On the other hand, you have marriage-driven daters. For someone who wants to get married, this may seem good, but I have found that there can be real downsides to this side of dating as well.

The Downside of Dating with Too Much Intention

A first date may feel like an audition you could fail, or perhaps you can’t help but look at the guy with an over-observant gaze, sizing him up, like a director trying to find the perfect person to play the father of your children. He does one thing wrong, and you can’t imagine moving forward with him. It becomes easy to discard people when you look too far into the future with them. Similarly, if you’re unsure of the chemistry, but your viewpoints align perfectly, you may feel pressured to make things work, despite a pit in your stomach. Are you anxious because there’s too much pressure or because he’s not right for you? 

Dating with too much focus on marriage can infuse the process with pressure and fear.

The pressure can often lead people to either shy away from the stress entirely or skip to over-commitment. In both cases, the pressure held them back from taking the time to really find out if the person was marriage material.

So what stands between these two extremes: hookups and pressure-filled intentional dating? 

Casual Dating – The Dating Process of Our Grandparents

I’m going to tell you a little story: My grandfather proposed to my grandmother and then had to leave and make a call…to cancel his date to the movies with another girl. 

Yep, he literally had a date lined up for the following Friday.

While I think this is extreme, and I personally would not be happy if my fiancé had a date with someone else (you’d think they would have been going steady by then), I think their generation had something we’re missing.

They took advantage of being single to meet, dance, and flirt with a wide range of people. They didn’t hesitate to ask someone out. They didn’t assume too much or too little about what would happen afterward. Dating was a casual process infused into their culture, so much so that it was a part of the weekly schedule. My grandfather called his Friday date right away so she’d have enough time to replace him – and she probably did, quite easily.

Their generation enjoyed getting to know a myriad of personalities and didn’t feel guilty about talking to more than one person if they weren’t in a serious, steady relationship. They didn’t use and discard people in a culture of hookups. They dated with intention, but they also didn’t put so much weight on a date that anxiety overtook the excitement.

What Is Casual Dating?

Casual dating isn’t casual sex; it’s simply what dating was supposed to be all along – getting to know potential partners with the goal of finding a steady relationship. It’s just dating, and yet the concept seems foreign.

Our society lacks confidence when it comes to meeting people outside our social circles or offline.

As a result, dating is dying, and more people are single than ever. Today, nearly 40% of adults in the U.S. are single, compared to just 29% in 1990. Many think the accessibility of online dating has increased their chances of getting a date – after all, there are endless people to swipe on – but the statistics don’t lie.

Dating apps have made us picky, more focused on looks than personality, and given us an easy way to drop someone guilt-free. Dating has become tougher and, in my opinion, meaner. The number of dating app users is starting to decline, but what will replace this culture? People need to learn how to date casually again, and here’s why:

1. Casual Dating Takes the Focus Off Technology and Puts It on Real-Life Encounters

With so many options of people on whom to swipe left or swipe right, we’ve become careless with dating apps. Why take a moment to consider the guy with a bad photo when there’s always another who knows how to take more flattering photos right behind him? Why keep talking with someone who uses too many emojis when you can find a better texter a few swipes away? The problem with that mindset is that it doesn’t account for social chemistry.

Online dating also provides an easy out where we can rudely ghost someone we’re bored with, creating a culture where there’s little to no accountability or respect for someone you’ve never met in person and that, in turn, is starting to translate to in-person meetings as well. As a result, you chat with people you rarely meet, but when you do, the chemistry might be completely off, or they aren’t who they said they were. 

But how do we take the focus offline? Our grandparents knew the only way to fill up their social calendar was to go out there and ask.

If everyone had a casual dating mindset, then there would be less pressure on the asker and less pressure on the acceptor.

If society took a more casual approach to dating, more people would feel confident going out and locking down a date. Additionally, if the focus was taken off apps, real-world flirtation would have a better chance of success. After all, if there isn’t a virtual safety net to hide behind, it’s easier to make genuine in-person connections.

I often hear my friends say they made eye contact with someone attractive, or they have a crush on someone in class, but instead of doing anything about it, they go on the apps and swipe to see if they can find them. It’s safer and easier, but completely ineffective. I say it’s time to get rid of that safety net, which is really just a barrier.

2. Casual Dating Makes It Easier To Date Outside Your Usual Type and Social Circle

When dating becomes a part of your routine, not something hyper-selective, you find yourself meeting people you usually wouldn’t swipe right on or who may be different from those in your social circle. 

Someone with a great smile in a café may not photograph well on a dating app and be an easy swipe left. But in person, if they confidently come up to you and ask if you would like to go out sometime, you immediately get a sense of your chemistry together and their presence. The confidence itself can be attractive.

Perhaps you’ve only dated creatives, and he’s an engineer; perhaps your friends have only ever set you up with people who have similar hobbies, and his interests differ from yours, but in a good way. Besides a chance encounter in the real world, you’d never have met. So many stories from previous generations begin with seeing a future spouse out in public, striking up a conversation, and asking them out. Today, that feels completely unrealistic, but how else are we supposed to get to know and date new people?

Dating outside your social circle or physical preferences is important. You may want something completely different from a relationship than you realize, but if you don’t experience new people or new social dynamics, you’ll never know. As long as you’re safe and careful about who and where you meet, the worst that can happen from dating outside your usual type is that you learn something new and have a better idea of what you’re looking for in a future spouse.

3. Casual Dating Makes Dating Fun Again

When there’s less pressure on a date, there’s more room mentally and emotionally to enjoy it. Remember teen movies from our childhood where weekend nights were spent picking out the perfect outfit, doing your makeup, and calling your best friends for advice? Dating seemed so fun and exciting then.

Dating shouldn’t be a miserable process where you nervously get ready only to stare across the table at someone with an abundance of questions running through your mind…

“What if I can’t stand listening to the way he pronounces ‘roof’ for the rest of my life?”

“What if, after all this effort, he doesn’t like me in person?”

“Did he really just say he wants to name his kid Kross?”

Instead, you should romanticize the whole process and take pleasure in getting ready. Assume you’ll have a wonderful time, that there’s no pressure after all, and then, most importantly, if you don’t enjoy yourself, let it roll off your shoulders and move on.

Closing Thoughts

Instead of bemoaning dating, we need to refocus, romanticize, and make it fun again. To do that, I believe our society should take a page from our grandparents’ book and get out there and start dating casually: line up dates, boldly introduce yourself to someone in-person, and stop over- and under-committing. Most singles want to find long-term partners, but we’re not approaching the process in a way that is enjoyable – as a result, we’re more and more reluctant to even try.

As we begin to move away from dating apps, I hope, in its place, grows a culture of healthy, casual dating. One where it doesn’t feel odd to have to call up your Friday date and tell them you’re sorry, you’re now going steady with someone – they’ll have to find someone else to take to the movie.

Support our cause and help women reclaim their femininity by subscribing today.