Difference Between Casual And Serious Dating: How to Set Boundaries

By: | Updated: Mar-30, 2023
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Are you focused on building a serious relationship with your current partner? Or you’d rather keep things casual?

Both choices are valid, but entirely different. However, they do have one thing in common: both casual and serious dating relationships will work best if you set clear boundaries. Let’s figure out what those boundaries are and how to set them.

Difference Between Casual And Serious Dating

Why Are Boundaries Important

Boundaries are important because they determine how you’ll be treated. This way, think of setting them as a tool for creating realistic expectations about you and the person you are dating. Without boundaries, you’ll both get miscommunication, hurt feelings, and mismatched expectations.

In practice, it’s never easy to talk about boundaries. When conversation involves romance or even love, it can be even harder. Still, it’s an important and respectful step for both of you to take. Use these tips to navigate the process and get to an outcome that works for both of you.

Do You Understand the Difference between Casual and Serious Dating?

You may feel confident that you know the difference between casual and serious dating. In reality, what you know is how you have defined these things for yourself. And use this knowledge as the basis for setting expectations about your relationships.

The problem is that the person you are dating may not share your definitions or expectations — especially if you didn’t have a conversation about the kind of relationship you have. So, it’s important to get on the same page about what you have and what that means for you.

For example, what if you both agree to keep things casual? To you, that may mean neither of you have an obligation to be monogamous. Or that you both won’t share who you choose to date and when. Meanwhile, your dating partner may believe you just aren’t planning for the future yet and aren’t having sex with other people. Imagine how many issues such mismatched expectations may cause!

But once you both agree on expectations and start from the same point, you can begin addressing other healthy boundaries.

Difference Between Casual And Serious Dating

3 Categories of Boundaries for You to Set

You can cover all of your bases if you remember there are sexual, personal, and relationship boundaries. Read their descriptions and think about how you feel about them. Then come to your relationships and work on defining your clear boundaries.

Sexual Boundaries

How will the status of your relationship impact your sexual boundaries? If you cannot invent an answer right away, consider that for most people, sexual behaviors are at least partially impacted by morals, values, and spiritual beliefs. Find such things for yourself and think of them: maybe you aren’t willing to do them outside of a committed relationship, and can’t accept them even in a casual partner. These are your boundaries.

The biggest issue to tackle in a casual relationship will be where you draw the line in terms of both of you having sex with other people. As you discuss this, you may end up talking about getting tested for STIs and safer sex practices.

That said, don’t assume that you and your partner have the same thoughts on this if you are in a serious relationship. You still need to talk about what you are comfortable with and what being serious means to both of you in terms of what you do sexually and how you communicate about sex.

Personal Boundaries

How do you define your personal boundaries in a dating relationship? Among all, consider your accessibility. How often are you okay with seeing them? For example, in a serious relationship you might be fine with getting together multiple times each week as long as you get Friday nights and Sunday afternoons for your friends and hobbies. Set these things clearly right away to avoid misunderstandings.

Personal boundaries are also important within casual relationships. You don’t want to be inundated with overwhelming calls and text messages because you weren’t clear about how much digital personal space  you wanted.

Relationship Boundaries

Imagine going on Facebook and finding out that the person you’ve been casually dating has plastered pictures of the two of you together all over their page. Then you see they’ve tagged you in all of them. If you wanted to keep things chill and low-key, that would not be threatening you as a relationship boundary violation.

Other examples of relationship boundaries might be:

  • Meeting parents
  • Blending friend groups
  • Being one another’s plus 1 at weddings
  • Going on formal dates
  • Presenting as a couple in public situations

No matter which exact relationship aspect offends you, it can definitely feel like a violation if the person you are dating makes you uncomfortable while presenting or talking about your relationship. Also, it can feel like a huge rejection if you make a gesture that is shot down by the person you are dating.

Takeaway: Boundaries Are an Ongoing Discussion

It’s better to discuss things, be clear, and set strong boundaries from the very beginning. If you do it later, it’s much more difficult to establish firmer boundaries with certain behaviors being let go. However, things are not always ideal. So, you’d better start this talk and keep a discussion ongoing at your current point. After several attempts, you and your partner will both feel comfortable being honest about your feelings and defining how you relate to each other.

If things still don’t work out, one way to avoid misunderstandings is to make your preferences clear while you’re looking for a new love on a dating app. Read more about setting up a profile and meeting people who match your preferences. You can always relax things or make adjustments later.

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