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Whenever the topic of casual dating comes up on Madame Noire, someone is bound to ask what it is. And someone else is bound to give the completely wrong answer. It’s time for everyone to get on the same page.

For some reason, it is automatically assumed that sex must be involved in casual dating by definition. Lots of people conflate the two, but it’s time to clear that up. So for anyone who is still confused about what casual dating actually is, you might find some helpful information here.

First and foremost let’s establish that casual dating is not about having sex with a bunch of partners to whom you are not committed. That’s called casual sex, which is something completely different. Think of it like this: If casual dating is your main entree, casual sex is dessert. Your meal is complete without dessert, but some people choose to indulge.

Casual sex and casual dating don’t need to be completely separate and independent of one another, but they can be. If a woman wants to sleep around while she’s casually dating, that’s her decision. Everyone woman has the right to make that choice for themselves. As a third party, it might not be right for you, but it’s not your decision to make. As such, none of us need to be judging another woman for her sexual choices as long as she is keeping it safe and consensual with an appropriately aged partner. If you still have a problem with a complete stranger exercising that option, perhaps it might be time to take a step back and evaluate why you are so bothered. Just remember: If it’s not your cookie, then it’s not your business.

Casual dating, on the other hand, simply means you are dating around without the expectation of a commitment. You’re just going out to have a fun time with some attractive company. That’s it. The whole goal of casual dating is literally just to go on dates, and you engage in it more than you realize. When you first meet someone, you don’t know what your relationship with them will be, if any at all. You wouldn’t typically go on a first date with that person and consider yourself to be in a relationship. So, your first couple of dates with a new potential bae would be considered casual dating until you decide that you want to pursue something a little deeper with them.

When I recommended that more single women need to date like Rihanna, including getting a rotation, some readers thought that I was encouraging women to sleep around. That’s not true. I’m encouraging single women to explore their options and have a great time doing it.

Many argue that the goal of dating is to find a spouse, and I don’t disagree with that premise. Ultimately most people are dating to find someone that they could spend their lives with, but it’s important to remember that not everyone is dating with that goal in mind. For example, someone that’s getting back out into the dating game after a breakup might not want to date to find their next relationship. There’s every possibility that casual dating is all that they can handle emotionally at that point. They’re ready to date again, but that does not mean they’re ready for a commitment.

One of the most important things to remember, though, is that you should always be honest with your date about your expectations. Don’t let them think that they have found their future when all you want is a fun an flirty evening out.

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