What is Casual Dating? Types, Benefits, and Risks

What is Casual Dating? Types, Benefits, and Risks

casual dating couple

The phrase "casual dating" is a bit of a misnomer. It can make you think of one-night hookups, "friends with benefits," or even casual dating. Many of us already assume that the types of relationships that fit under this broad category are all distinct, and research backs up that belief. However, some may be surprised to learn that they appear to benefit those who participate in them.

Different sorts of casual interactions are understood by young adults in a sophisticated and complex way. They're not all the same, and each of the four categories defined by Canadian researchers Jocelyn Wentland and Elke Reissuing has its own set of expectations.

There are four different types of casual relationships.

Researchers found four broad forms of casual relationships, from least intimate to most intimate, after conducting focus groups with 23 participants aged 18 to 24:

  1. A one-time affair.
  2. Make a booty call.
  3. Sex companions(the study uses a more colloquial term for "sex").
  4. Friendship with Benefits(FWB).

The authors left out casual dating because they intended to look into other relationships that the participants didn't consider "dating." The definition of these four groups was later verified by the same authors in a broader group of participants.

Learn how each form of casual connection is influenced by five main characteristics:

  1. Contact frequency.
  2. Contact method.
  3. Personal information.
  4. Relationship discussion.
  5. Companionship.

Meeting Frequency.

One-night stands are distinguished from the other three types of casual partnerships by this trait. A one-night stand is, by definition, a one-time encounter that ends there. 2 The relationship is in a booty call, sex buddy, or FWB zone once the contact becomes recurrent.

Meeting Types.

Some relationships are purely sexual, while others are both sexual and social in nature. Only sexual interaction occurs in one-night stand and booty call situations. Friends with benefits and sex pals, on the other hand, share both sexual and social relationships. The term "social contact" refers to the ability of the partners in a relationship to see each other in non-sexual situations. They could be friends or members of the same social group.

Personal Information.

The researchers define "personal disclosure" as the sharing of feelings between partners in a relationship. Personal disclosure is expected in sex buddy and FWB relationships but not in one-night stand or booty call partnerships.

Relationship Discussion.

Although they are comparable, this trait is not the same as personal revelation. According to the study, only friends with advantages talk about their friendship. One-night hookups, booty calls, and sex buddy relationships are examples of people avoiding talking about their relationships. This means that while sex buddies can discuss their feelings and become emotionally connected, they do not apply that intimacy to their relationship.


In casual interactions, there are three levels of friendship: none, consequent, and pre-existing. People who are in one-night stands and booty call relationships are unlikely to be buddies. Friends with benefits are friends before they begin a sexual connection, whereas sex pals become friends after the relationship.

Casual Relationships: Benefits and Risks.

For a variety of reasons, people, particularly those of university age, engage in casual relationships. Carl Rodrigue and Mylène Fernet of the University of Quebec examined various studies and identified a few critical patterns described in a paper published in 2016. 3 They first pointed out that casual relationships are more widespread in specific situations and times in people's life. Much of it is about the academic environment fostering those kinds of connections for students (who make up the majority of the responders in these studies). Students frequently stated that they lacked the time or energy to form emotionally loyal long-term relationships. They also discussed how the party culture normalized sloppy dating.

Many research studies discussed how young adults use casual relationships to meet their sexual, intimacy, friendship, and even self-confidence requirements without committing a lot of energy or emotion.

The sexual double standard (the social perception that men who sleep around a lot are "studs," while women who do the same are "sluts"), pressure for women to accept penetrative sex as the main activity, and women feeling a lack of agency that lowers their sexual pleasure were also discovered in this study.

Unrequited feelings, the potential for damaged emotions, and possibly regrets and mistakes as a result of the relationship were also recognized by participants as hazards connected with casual relationships. Participants also discussed the dangers of sex damaging friendships. However, the researchers point out that effective communication can help to alleviate many of these problems.

It's Normal to Have Casual Relationships.

Casual relationships can be a terrific way to explore different sexual activities, engage with others intimately without the demands of a long-term partnership, reduce stress, and create a social circle in the setting of young adulthood, university life, and the beginnings of a profession.

To sum up:

Casual relationships are formed for various reasons, and there are at least four primary forms of casual partnerships. As people get older, most of those who indulge in them as young adults eventually settle down in long-term relationships and marriages. Casual partnerships might help you meet your need for intimacy and sexual pleasure if you are not interested in a long-term, committed relationship. Enter with your eyes open, speak with your partner(s), and interact with a compassionate and caring attitude toward those around you.