6 Things To Consider Before "Seriously Casually Dating" Someone

Yep, it's a thing.


Even though I'm personally someone who isn't interested in dating unless the mutual intention is that it will lead to courtship (that's a word that means a whole lot more than hanging out with a gentleman; being with a chivalrous man should be happening regardless), I totally get that not everyone has that same desire. Case in point—one of my favorite people on the entire planet has told me, pretty much since her adolescence (she's 39 now), that marriage is something she's absolutely not interested in or a fan of. Still, she consistently has a dating life that rivals mine and at least 80 percent of the people that I know.

For years now, she has told me about her dating dynamics and how they very rarely lead to an exclusive relationship. Interestingly enough, at the same time, she continues to see 1-3 of the same people, for months—if not years—at a time. When I ask what we should call those types of dating situations, it's crickets on her end. Clearly, she's not going the traditional route. But still, if you're setting aside time, 2-5 times a month, to hang out (and possibly more) with someone else, for months on end, that's not nothing. It is indeed…something.

Until my girl hits me up with a cute phrase to help define it, I've decided to call that type of relationship "seriously casually dating". "Serious" because spending time that you can't get back with someone on a regular basis does hold some type of merit; "casual" because, beyond being in the moment and having a good time while you're in it, there's not much of a long-term goal behind it all.

If you just read those last couple of paragraphs and that sounds exactly like what you want to do, before you make "serious casual dating" an official thing between you and someone else (or several different people), make sure that you know what you are potentially, both emotionally as well as physically, getting yourself into.

Do You Both Want to Take Things Up a Notch?


Perspective is everything. This is definitely the case when it comes to dating. I've shared before that I once had a birthday dinner with a guy. During the dinner, he proceeded to tell me that he was "dating me", along with a whole lot of other women. Yes, he was narcissistic (LOL not LOL), but that's not why I'm bringing this up. I'm saying it to say that this is a great example of the fact that while one person may think a date is just good company over pasta and wine, another could be thinking it's three dates away from forever (or whatever ole' boy was arrogantly talking about).

That said, if you and a guy have been on more than three dates, there is something there. But your "something" may not be "his". So, if you want to go from just hanging out to hanging-out-with-the-intention-of-it-maybe-becoming-more-someday, that's a conversation that needs to be had; not just in your mind or with your girlfriends, but with him too.

The good news is if he's even entertaining the discussion of, "How do you feel about being a little more than hang out buddies?", he's interested beyond just being around you to have something to do. If he shuts it all down, well, he's not only not open to seriously casually dating, you may have some ghosting ahead in your future as well. Just sayin'.

Are You Cool with You Both Still Seeing Other People?


Here's the thing about dating. Just because you are doing it with someone, that doesn't automatically mean that exclusivity is—or even should—be on the table. I often say that a lot of folks have a tendency to think that chivalry and courting are synonymous although they absolutely are not. I don't care what kind of dating status you are currently filed under, you deserve for a man to treat you with respect and care; however, if a man is courting you, by definition, he is intending to marry you (not because you assumed it; he actually told you so). On the other hand, if he's just dating you, that could mean that he likes your company, along with the company of five other women. Or, that he's trying to see if you are someone he wants to be with, long-term.

Category B is a lot more serious than Category A. So yeah, if the two of you are considering entering into serious casual dating territory, something else you both should get clarity on is if you're both OK with the other seeing other people. Honestly, if it's only on the seriously casually dating tip, this shouldn't be that big of a deal.

Is Sex on the Table?


If the two of you like spending time with one another to the point where you're going on at least a couple of dates a month, an emotional connection is going to be established; that's just how life is. And, by the second month or so (at the very latest), you're going to become more physically drawn to one another as well. This means that another thing you need to think long and hard about is if you want to get sexually involved or not.

Out of all the things that we've touched on thus far, this is super important because, if the two of you aren't going to be exclusive but you are open to having sex (oral or otherwise), you could be putting yourself at risk to contract, whatever his other partners may have (whether they know it or not; remember, most people with an STD have absolutely no clue that they do!).

This is why, even if you are down for seriously casually dating, you might want to rethink how "casual" sex ever really is (spoiler alert: it ain't).

Do You Have Realistic Expectations?


I don't know about you, but it's been my personal experience that—both on a romantic and platonic level—men are pretty literal. As it relates to what we're unpacking here, this means if both of you agree that you're both going to see each other and other people, they are not gonna try and see if you have some sort of other agenda in mind. Agenda like what? Something like, "I'll tell him that I'm fine with him dating other folks, but I know that if we spend enough time together, eventually he's gonna leave the others alone and want to be exclusive with me." Could that happen? Lots of things could happen, but don't bet on it going this way just because you want it to.

This point reminds me of a situationship that I once had with a guy many moons ago. Because my self-esteem was not where it should have been at the time when we met, I put a wall up and said that I was cool with being friends with benefits, nothing more. After months of sex, phone calls and even a pregnancy, I figured that since we had been through so much together, surely, we had a future. What he said in response to my mindset has always stayed with me. "Shellie, you never gave me a chance to see you as more. When you said you wanted to stay friends, I took that to mean just that. So, I've always only seen you that way." Ouch. He was right to process us that way, though.

It reminds me of a man by the name of Mark Gungor who once taught the difference between men's minds and women's minds. He said that men think in boxes (everything is compartmentalized) while women think with string (everything is connected). If you do decide to enter into a seriously casually dating situation, watch that video and then decide if you can realistically handle doing that.

Because many a man can like you, sex you and that be it while you're somewhere thinking that everything is tied in together to mean something more. Maybe. MAYBE NOT.

How Much Should (and Shouldn’t) Be Discussed?


This is a super valid point too. Just because you both have decided to be open about seeing each other and other people, that doesn't give either one of you the "right" to know about the other individuals. You know what else? If neither of you want to discuss the other relationships, that also doesn't make either of you sneaky, shady or someone who lacks integrity or respect for what the two of you share.

You probably know all of this from an intellectual standpoint, but once emotions and possibly sex come into play, it can still do a real number on how you process things. So yeah, if you do decide to seriously casually date, it's a good idea to set a few ground rules about what is cool to talk about and, what both of you would prefer to keep off limits. At least for now.

Besides, if the two of you are keeping it relatively casual, why should either one of you be digging into the other aspects of your dating life anyway? (Hmm…)

Is There an “End Game” in Mind?


I remember once watching a television show and one of the characters on it saying, "With time, everything exhausts itself." If you don't tend to and nurture it—whatever "it" may be—I totally agree. Whenever I ask my 39-year-old friend about how her seriously casually dating situations end up, typically, they don't end well. Someone catches stronger feelings or has a different set of expectations. Or, one or both come to the conclusion that what they were doing was a total waste of time.

This doesn't have to be the case for you, but it is a good idea to always keep in the forefront of your mind that casual means "without emotional intimacy or commitment". If you want to spend months of your life without a commitment, have a ball. But if even a little part of you wants something different, be real with yourself about that.

Seriously casually dating only works if both people honestly want it to. Otherwise, it brings unwanted drama into one's life. And really—who wants that?

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

The Things Men Say On Dates That Are Huge Red Flags

15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language

Here's Why You KEEP Not Getting What You Need In Your Relationships

Is Your Relationship Complicated? Simplify It With These Questions

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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