Casual dating has taken on more significance as marriages have been delayed until the late 20s. In many parts of the United States, the average age of marriage is 28 or 29 years old. This means that the average person age 18 to 25 may be dating or spending time with a partner or partners, but they may not have intentions to enter a formally committed relationship until much later.
The main function of a casual dating relationship is to provide companionship during social interactions. This type of dating allows people to get to know each other and spend time together without having a monogamous relationship attached to a deeper level of commitment, like cohabitation or marriage. Casual dating allows two people to enjoy activities together without being concerned about further commitments or responsibilities.
Casual dating relationships can be intimate or non-intimate. With the delay of marriage until the late 20s, many people tend to date a variety of partners prior to finding a marriage partner. The main difference between these relationships is that a committed relationship is exclusive, and partners make a commitment to only date and be intimate with one partner. In casual dating relationships, partners often date a variety of people and they may also be intimate with multiple people.
One of the major considerations in casual dating is whether partners can or should be intimate. When partners are dating without an expectation of monogamy it's quite possible that one or both will have multiple intimate partners. Safe-sex practices should be used to ensure that both partners are protected from sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
Most relationships begin at the casual level and two people often date each other without an expectation of a longer-term relationship. There is always potential that a couple can make more serious plans and a higher level of commitment after they get to know each other and decide to be monogamous. Monogamous dating relationships happen after couples go through an initial phase and decide to be exclusive. There is no set rule about whether casual couples can have intimacy, and each person has to make this decision based on his or her own desires and values.