How to date casual, stay ethical


Photo credit: Jacob Collier

Christina Cahill

We all have our reasons for sometimes wanting to stay single: maybe you just got out of a serious relationship and want to get back into the dating game but aren’t ready to open yourself up to being hurt again. Perhaps you love being free and beholden only to yourself and aren’t in a rush to intertwine your life with someone else’s. Maybe you’re not sure what you want out of a partner and want to date a variety of people to see what your tastes are.

Many people want to hook up without having one night stands, as forging a friendship with a person can lead to better sex. Whatever your reasoning, it can be a delicate balance to keep it casual and respectful at the same time.

Early communication of your intentions is one of the most important things to do when you start hooking up with someone new. It can be seen as presumptuous and an awkward conversation to have, but both of you will feel better about it in the end.

After maybe the second or third time hanging out, kindly let them know that you think they’re great, that you’re excited to be hanging out with them and that you just want to keep things fun and casual. If you say it without making a big deal about it, chances are they won’t make a big deal about it either.

This also gives them a chance to put a stop to things if they were hoping a relationship could come from your hook ups. It doesn’t feel good to be rejected, but it feels even worse to accidentally break someone’s heart when you aren’t emotionally invested.

When you first meet someone you’re attracted to and you find out they feel the same way about you, it can be easy to be swept up in the moment. Even if you know from the start you would never want to seriously date this person, flirting and getting to know each other is fun and exciting and even a little addicting.

It’s important to limit the amount of time you spend with a person and how often you text them. “Good morning” texts skirt dangerously close to relationship territory, as do “goodnight,” “thinking of you,” and most texts filling each other in on the mundane details of your daily lives just to be able to talk to each other.

Limit how many times a week you hang out to around two, though late-night booty calls can be exceptions. Dates are nice, but be sure not to make them too well-thought-out or romantic. A flower and Thai food is cute and fun; a bouquet of roses and a private table at the steakhouse is a bit much.

While it’s important not to spend too much romantic energy on whomever you’re dating, it’s equally important to respect yourself and your new partner. This means practicing safe sex, communicating your needs and expectations and listening to theirs, and, for Christ’s sake, don’t ghost them. The coolest, bravest thing you can do when you’re over a casual partner is to tell them so. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s the right thing to do. You can tell them that, while they’re great and did nothing wrong, you don’t feel the same spark anymore and think it’s best to stop hooking up.

Keeping things casual is more than just a state of mind; you have to follow through with all your actions. You can be unattached without being cold-hearted. For more information on getting yours without stepping on others, you can read “The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships and Other Adventures” by Janet W. Hardy.

Christina Cahill can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ChristinaCahi11