A whirlwind romance definitely comes with its perks. A no-strings-attached confidence boost that sends you springing down the street with a big, fat smile on your face? Yeah, that does sound like a treat, doesn’t it? But life doesn’t always go the way you planned…
What happens when the whole ‘casual dating’ thing appears to have backfired, and you’re starting to think that the one you’re seeing might just be a keeper?
Daunting and butterfly-inducing feelings of fear, excitement, and nausea kick in, and you’re left wondering how you can turn your casual fling into something more serious.
It’s totally fine. Your feelings are normal, and this kind of thing happens all of the time. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to sway the relationship, and hopefully come out on top with someone you adore on your arm.
A quick info cheat sheet before we jump in, though…
What is Casual Dating?
Casual dating is an emotional and or physical relationship between two people that does not come with the regular expectations or commitments as a serious relationship. Oftentimes, casual dating is a sexual thing, but not always.
Why Do People Casual Date?
It may seem obvious why people engage in casual dating… because it’s fun! But there are a few other reasons why casual dating is so trendy.
For those who’ve just come out of a serious relationship, it’s a transitional phase that allows them to meet new people and enjoy their company.
Casual dating is also a way in which to ‘play the field’, and to gain some dating and sexual experience. And, of course, casual dating is for those who can’t think of anything worse than getting tied down, but still interested in getting their ‘needs’ met.
And on that note…
Is Casual Sex Good for Your Wellbeing?
There are studies that have concluded that casual sex is not so good for your wellbeing. But let’s take a look at three specific studies that show varying results:
2015:A study in Archives of Sexual Behaviour found that those who engaged in casual sex because they wanted to, or felt it empowering to explore their sexuality, were unaffected when it came to their wellbeing. Those who engaged in casual sex for reasons such as being drunk, or getting revenge however, experienced a negative psychological wellbeing effect.
Taking the Plunge: Going from Casual Dating to a Serious Relationship
So, when you’re ready to move out of the casual dating scene, and hope to progress with a special someone, here are five tips to win their heart, and perhaps even make it ‘Facebook official’.
1. Play a Cool Hand
So you’ve met someone you like, and you’re pretty sure the feeling is mutual. Now comes the question: what are the two of you going to do about it?
Well at some point you’re going to have to talk about it, and we reckon honesty is the best policy…
That doesn’t mean you should be mentioning marriage and babies just yet! But laying your cards on the table lets the other person know how you’re feeling, and oftentimes will encourage them and make them feel comfortable enough to do the same.
Just be sure to keep a few aces up your sleeve to keep things interesting later on.
2. Go the Distance
If you’ve gotten yourself into one of those sticky situations where the person you’re pining after lives on the other side of the country (or the world), this is the time for you to put on your big girl/boy pants and make a commitment.
If both you and your fling have admitted to having strong feelings for one another, and you’re determined to give things a go, create a date for the future, preferably before you say your first goodbye.
If you leave things in the air, life has a funny way of interfering, making those strong feelings appear less intense over time. Don’t run the risk of things fizzling out, make the plan.
3. Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself
Remember, your hopefully soon-to-blossom romance is still just a seedling at this stage, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
The next time you arrange to meet up, be it the following day or two months down the line, try to do something fun and memorable but don’t try to plan every tiny detail. Relax and let the day unfold naturally.
A ‘whatever happens, happens’ approach–while perhaps both counterintuitive and easier said than done–will soften the disappointment if things don’t go exactly according to plan, while your chilled out, happy-go-lucky attitude will keep the other person guessing.
4. Bridge the Gap
For many, casual dating is simply hooking up or meeting at-random when one feels up to it. But when you’re looking to turn things a bit more serious, it’s all about bridging the gap.
This refers to those little moments in between not seeing each other and getting together for sex or a short date. It’s the intimate, fun moments where you’re able to get to know each other on a more personal level, for example: playing video games, watching films together, and having meaningful conversations.
When you start bridging the gap, you gain a new perspective on the person you’re casually dating, and can form a more solid and trustworthy kind of relationship. This too can contribute to even better sex, in actuality.
5. Spit it Out
No, this isn’t a sex joke nor a reference to a Slipknot song, but rather… being communicative and letting the person know how you feel. Granted, this is a super awkward and uncomfortable conversation to have in general, but did you know that being vulnerable is actually a good thing?
It’s during those moments of uncertainty, emotional exposure, and risk that you’re able to step outside of your comfort zone and force yourself to ‘lose control’ in a sense. Just ask researcher, Brené Brown, who has undergone a number of studies, TED Talks, and articles surrounding vulnerability.
Brown says that when we stop closing ourselves off to new and scary situations, we are able to stand fear in the face, and ultimately be brave enough to endure potential judgement and embarrassment.
On the plus side, wading through unknown territories could lead to transformative and healthy behaviour and positive outcomes.
In other words, while it may be hard for you to accept and reveal your feelings, doing so will get you out of that limbo state. Either way, you will be able to move forward.
The Other Side of the Spectrum: Can Friendship Ensue After Casual Dating and FWB Relationships?
When it comes to friendships and FWB, there is a certain level of emotional investment. Despite this, it’s been said that only 10 to 20 percent of FWB turn into long term relationships.
And when it comes to reverting back to friends after being FWB, Dr Jesse Owen at the University of Louisville in Kentucky underwent a study on near 1000 students who had experienced a FWB relationship. She found that 80 percent of 300 participants were able to go back to being friends, with 50 percent feeling closer to that friend because of their experience.
Adversely, she found that 18 percent of the participants were unable to go back to being friends, but that these participants felt as though their FWB relationship was more sex-based than anything else.
In short, it’s fairly accurate to assume that, if your friendship was strong to begin with, a FWB relationship does have great potential to revert back to friendship. If the friendship part wasn’t strong to begin with, then it probably wasn’t really a friend worth keeping around anyway.
We hope you’ve gained some clarity on the whole casual dating, FWB, and serious relationship thing. And remember, being vulnerable is a good thing!