The Post-Breakup Guide to Casual Dating


It doesn't really matter if you're the dumper or the dumpee. Breakups can be a bitch for both parties. But hey you are single, and might finally be ready to get back out there and meet new people. Maybe you just need someone to talk to or vent about life. Maybe you could use some fun nights out to balance the mundaneness of the week. Maybe you're just down bad and have to, well, get some, minus the whirlwind of commitment. We all need a little tenderness to get us through, after all, and that can take on many forms, including the no-strings-attached-monogamous (optional)-go-to-the-movies-chill-at-your-apartment kind of way. Hey, you take tenderness as it comes, right?

We've all heard of the supposed benefits of casual dating, too. You get to spend time with people who you have shared interests with. The independence is still there. You basically go and do "couple" things with someone, and can even date people simultaneously. It shouldn't be just about the sex, remember that.

Photo by Getty/Aladdin Color Inc.

There's actually a lot of things people, especially those who are fresh out of long-term relationships, don't understand about casual dating. More on that in a second.

What Does Casual Dating Mean?

So what does casual dating mean to a guy or girl? Well, we can tell you what it isn't: there's not exactly a sense of ownership here. You're both free.

Let's say a friend tells us about a mutual friend who might be interested. Or that you see someone at a bar or junket and say, "Screw it." Or, of course, you go on some of the best casual dating apps (it's 2023, we have a handful of them now) and talk to someone you like. In each scenario, you go out and have concluded that you guys have connected. Great. You want to see them more often.

There's a fine line (like real fine) here. One of the biggest best-case-scenario benefits to casual dating is that, sometimes, it does lead to an actual relationship. But the thing is, most of the time, a lot of casual daters just don't want the emotional attachment involved. Sure, you still get to do your pseudo-couple things, but that's about it. No labels. No clinging.

The Annoying Misconceptions

One of the biggest misconceptions to casual dating is that it's the same us hooking up or f*ck buddy (fubu) arrangements. It's not any of those. You can want one over the other, but Christ, know the difference, at least.

Casual dating doesn't necessarily mean casual sex, okay? It might be because of the conversation or shared interests and quirks that make you want to hang out with them, and that's completely okay. Casual dating can also mean you just want other forms of physical intimacy like kissing, hugging, cuddling, and more.

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Interestingly, the lexicon for online affairs has only expanded over time ("sexting," "ghosting," "breadcrumbing," "catfishing," and the list goes on). It's a phenomenon. According to, there were roughly 366 million online dating service users in 2022. By 2027, that number is going to rise to 440 million. That's a lot of people looking for love (among other things to be found).


Hooking up is casual sex. Just that. It's taking a random person you've been having fun with all night and going back to their place after. It can also be finding someone on those casual dating apps (Tinder or Bumble or Grindr seem to still be good options in 2023). Meanwhile, fubus are another thing altogether. A fubu means being friends with someone and seeing them regularly to have hot sex in a nonromantic, purely visceral manner.


Okay, there's a lot of honesty to be had when we do casual dating. It starts with yourself. Be honest with the reasons why you want to pursue this. We have to make it clear our partners, prospective or current, what we want out of this relationship. You guys have to define the do's and don'ts, as well as the boundaries, actions, or expectations in place for a successful affair.


Checking in with each other is a must, too. If things aren't going well, that should be expressed and communicated appropriately. Casual dating doesn't have to mean you don't feel anything for the other party. Honesty is an act of care, and openness is one of casual dating's great benefits.

Photo by Maine Manalansan.


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Don't Do Casual Dating If...

  • If you can't handle the openness or if you feel like you might get too attached, you might want to exercise some prudence. Things are always nice in the beginning, but sooner or later, feelings can get in the way of a healthy dynamic;
  • If you've been hurt in a past relationship and still haven't exactly moved on, you should rethink going casual. People hurt and get hurt here pretty easily. That happens when you're caught up in someone exercising their own autonomy. We should always be careful, with ourselves and other people. When it comes to these things, we're always bound to lose anyway;
  • If you want to keep talking about your ex or you can't help but compare your current partner to your last one (or the others);
  • If you'd be bothered seeing them with another casual partner. This is self-explanatory. Again, you're not a couple;
  • If you're wishy-washy with people. Be sure. Be cool. Be consistent. Be upfront. Don't toy around with them. Their time is just as important as yours; and
  • If you don't know who you are or what you want just yet.

Where Do I Start?

Casual dating apps in 2023 are best if you're not the courageous type. At least there, we can see each other's profiles and preferences and things of that nature. There's a pre-introduction to the introduction, which allows you to see if you'd be a suitable match.

What you can also do is go out and just see what kind of market is waiting there for you. Chances are, you're going to meet a lot of different characters who want different things. Casual dating can mean many things to many people, even if it does feel limiting at times to a guy or a girl. Just make sure you're on the same page.

A lot of times it always gets to a point where one of you asks, "What does casual dating mean to a guy/girl?" Once you get caught up in the meaning of it all, then things can go south real quick. Take the experience for what it is: you simply delight in someone else's company. That's enough reason for you to keep seeing them. Some warmth and familiarity in a companion is never a bad thing.


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Brando Suarez
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