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Casual dating guide

An Expert’s Guide to Casual Dating

For two years now, we’ve had waves of lockdowns throwing a spanner into the casual dating scene – the rules changed, things somehow became urgent and dangerous all at once, but now that we’re returning to normality, casual dating returns too (okay, okay – for some of you it never stopped!). Within that, there are some hangovers from the global pandemic, both health-related and communication-based that have altered the way we operate in the dating scene. Here we’ve rounded up our top tips for how to be a successful and respectful casual dater, in case you may be a little rusty.

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Hello im nik
Image: Hello I’m Nik/Unsplash

Decide Where to Find Dates

We’re in an era of ease when it comes to dating. We’ve got apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and more. There are services like Kopi Date and Elite Introductions. You might meet someone cute at your local coffee shop, on the second floor of your office, while on holiday in Europe, or in your section at the NRL. You can ask a mate to introduce you to a friend of a friend.  A nice way to step into the casual dating scene is to lean into whichever of the above makes you feel most comfortable. You don’t have to do them all at once, but it’s nice to remember there are a load of options out there for meeting people.

Communication, As Always, is Key

Now you’re interested in someone, and they seem to be interested in you. Awesome! What’s next? Give good chat. That means, go deep with your conversation. Outside of the usual icebreakers – ‘what do you do for work?’, ‘what do you do for fun?’, ‘do you have any siblings?’ – think about some unusual conversation starters that will make you stand out from the rest.

Why not ask what the most ridiculous fear they have is, what they are hoping for before their next big birthday, what book record/movie changed their lives, who is someone they admire and why, what would their friends say their best and worst attributes are, what is the weirdest thing they’ve ever eaten, what’s something no one knows about them… Digging deeper with your questions not only enables you to get to know the person better, but it will give you great fodder to take the conversation in a new direction, while also giving you a good story to tell.

Get to it and Ask Them Out

There is nothing worse than digital dating that drags on for weeks. You know the type, the mindless texting and flirting that seems fun at the time but not when you have several people on the go, a full-time job, a sports league, friendship circle, family commitments… Who has the time?

If you’re interested in someone and think they’re worth it, ask them out for a date in person. Ideally, the ‘do you want to meet up for X’ (see next tip) question should happen within the week. Any more than that and you’re just dragging it out on the road to fizzle. Confidence and self-assuredness are sexy – make a plan.

Matt w newman
Image: Matt W Newman/IUnsplash

Pick Your Location

Now you know you want to ask them out, the question is ‘where the heck to?’. A good rule of thumb is to invite them somewhere you can do an activity together, but where you won’t be nervous. If you’re not good on your feet, an ice-skating date probably isn’t right for you. But an evening tour of the local aquarium or observatory might be.

Pick a location – and activity – that you can discuss as and after it happens. For instance, if you go to the aquarium, you can look at the sea animals instead of each other and talk about the sea life as you get to know the other person. A completely easy way to break the ice (especially if you see the penguins… see what we did there?)!

Dress the Part

Once you have your location locked, think about what you’ll wear. Again, you want to be comfortable so don’t feel you need to rush out and buy a whole new outfit. Instead, think about what makes you feel confident and wear that.

I would argue personal hygiene is more important than what you wear if you’ve followed the above advice, because you’ll look confident if you’re more comfortable. Give your beard and nails a trim to tidy, ensure your clothes are fresh to wear, wash your hair and wear some sort of cologne (or at the least, don’t show up sweaty).

Know Your Boundaries – and Theirs

It’s always important before a date to know what your boundaries are, and to stick to them. Decide going in if you want to sleep with them should the opportunity arise. Understand what you are comfortable disclosing about your current and previous dating history, as this may come up. If you don’t want anyone to know you’re dating, tell your date straight up.  Of course, your date may have boundaries of their own, so be sure to discuss and respect these throughout the time you’re together – and afterwards.

Use Protection (Seriously)

It’s 2022. There really is no excuse for not using a condom to protect from STIs while casually dating – there are a range of sizes and textures available. Get over the awkwardness of it all, pull one out, slip it on and keep it on.

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Kenny eliason
Image: Kenny Eliason/Unsplash

Follow-Up Quickly

As with tip three, don’t delay on the follow-up communications. The old game of waiting three days before calling is from the 90s when we weren’t attached to our phones 24/7. Now there’s no reason to wait. If you’re not interested in seeing them again, tell them right away. Save them the anguish of waiting around and save yourself some annoyed texts or social comments down the track. A nice way to let someone know you don’t want to see them again is to say, ‘I had a nice time, but I am looking for a spark and didn’t feel that with us’. This implies it’s not them, it’s the two of you and that you’re simply not compatible – hard to get upset at that.

If you had a nice time and want to see your date again, tell them within a few days. Hopefully, they had a great time, too, and you can loop back to tip three and start it all over again for date number two.

About the Author: Tammi Miller is a certified practising counsellor, founder of BARE Therapy, and author of Paperback Therapy: Therapist-approved tools and advice for mastering your mental health. The Sydney-based professional is a Provisional Member of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia, and received her training at the Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP) in 2020.