Casual Dating Isn’t Casual At All

girl-in-balloons

I was driving home from dinner last Friday night when my phone lit up with her image.

I had been waiting for this call or text all day because I knew Friday night was the night she was going out for her third date with Martin. Martin had been described to me as a passionate, interesting, sexy sexy man who was sexy in looks but also because he had his sh*t together, a quality many women in their twenties struggle to find.

“HALLO!” I said. “How did it go?!”

“Julia, I am so freaking pissed.”

Crap.

This conversation alone sums up the dating world of the average twenty-something. There is hope, excitement, and intrigue as another person comes along to take us to coffee or pizza or an outdoor concert and we secretly ask ourselves, “Could this be my last first date, ever?”

“What happened?”

“Martin and I just had this PERFECT date. But then I brought up that I’m a Christian. He’s not. Julia, I can’t date someone who can’t share that with me and that SUCKS because he has literally everything else going for him. And now it’s over. Because of that.”

But then, something happens. We get ghosted. This person is super nice but doesn’t seem to mesh with our personality. They’re moving, or shady, or don’t share our faith. Someone admits they like Nickelback.

If you’re someone who is of the opinion that dating is ultimately about finding a spouse, casual dating isn’t casual at all (and even if you’re not of that opinion, I would guess casual dating isn’t all that fulfilling or fun if you’re hopping from one relationship to the next, because dating is freaking exhausting).

And for people like my best friend who hope to get married someday but aren’t insane, I-need-to-be-married-within-the-next-year people, casual dating still isn’t casual.

Why? Because you’re an adult person with sh*t to do and other people to meet. Most of us don’t have the time or emotional energy to waste on a fling or relationship that doesn’t at least begin with potential.

This means that within the first three to four dates, you have to get a feel for all of the following deeply personal areas:

VALUES

Do you and this person have similar values, i.e., do they generally care about the same stuff you care about? Do you get a sense that there’s enough common ground here to enjoy each other’s company and be supportive of the other person’s goals and interests?

OPINIONS ABOUT MARRIAGE AND COMMITMENT 

Is this super cool person only interested in a long-term relationship, or are they interested in a long-term (or short-term, for you wacky, impulsive types) relationship that hopefully leads to marriage?

On my fifth date with Clifford I told him I wasn’t interested in breaking up with someone again.

“If a break up happens I can accept that,” I said. “But my hope is that the next person I date will be around forever.”

This was mega bold and even as I said it I thought, “I’m being mega bold right now.”

But I needed Clifford to know up front what I was about. Because if he didn’t view a relationship as a journey to marriage, I wasn’t interested (luckily, he did!).

ATTITUDES TOWARDS SEX AND INTIMACY

Does this person share the same values as you about sex? Even if they haven’t held similar values in the past, do they want to share those values now, whatever those may be?

If you’re someone who wants to wait to have sex until you’re married, you have to figure out if this person feels the same (and like, genuinely feels the same, not just going along with it because that’s what you want).

 LONG-TERM GOALS

Which, in my opinion, are finicky.

Goals and plans change so quickly as new life situations arise (such as meeting the love of your life!). But if the person you’re interested in wants to join the Peace Corps and live in Africa for two years and you would rather watch a YouTube video of a cyst extraction on repeat for 12 hours than be a long-distance relationship, those might be some long-term goal deal-breakers.

FAITH

You know what sucks? Meeting someone who shares the same religion as you ultimately means nothing in the dating world.

I have met other Christians who I wouldn’t want to be in the same room with for more than 20 minutes, and this sucks because it’s yet another thing you have to weed out about someone. Sure, we’re both Christians, but are we drawn to the manner in which this other person lives out their faith in action and thought?

You know, just some normal getting-to-know-you chit chat.

When I used to speak to high schoolers about sex, I always told them that at the beginning of any relationship they needed to have a super sexy conversation with their partner about physical expectations and/or boundaries.

For adults who wish to be in unambiguous, committed relationships, we get to have super sexy conversations that more or less get down to business about what we want out of life.

For the sake of all my single friends (and my formerly single self) I wish dating was more like Carrie Bradshaw (sans Big drama, right?) and less like that girl with the peanuts on How to Be Single. 


Do you agree or disagree that casual dating isn’t all that casual? What has been your experience? 

1 reply »

  1. Hopefully it’s not too late to comment…I found myself thinking about this post frequently over the past couple weeks. The things is, most of what you described isn’t “casual dating”, it was dating with a purpose, or hope of a purpose (relationship). Truly casual dating is just that – the only agenda is fun or a new experience. As soon as the “maybe this guy/girl is into me, or is super interesting” thought enters your mind, “casual” is over.
    I offer no solution or suggestion, which would be a more helpful commentary I suppose…but that’s what I’ve been thinking.

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