Casual Encounters in Online Dating

Advice
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If you're looking for less of a relationship and more someone to hang out with, online dating can still work for you! Some people are just getting back into the dating scene after multi-year relationships and marriages and aren't looking for anything "serious" quite yet - and that's OK. The key is to know what you're looking for from the get-go and not send out any conflicting signals to your potential matches online.

There are many sites out there like Chemistry.com and eHarmony that market on the premise of everlasting love. If that's not where your head is at, you need to look elsewhere. Some great sites to explore for less permanent dating arrangements would be Match.com, Adult Friend Finder and Lavalife. All of these sites have extended profile sections where you can explain exactly what you're looking for. Be sure to take advantage of them and spell-out your desires. Curious about what site might fit you best? Do a trial membership. All of these sites have different interfaces and communication methods between members. One's sure to be a better fit for your goals and personality!

For a site like Match.com, don't hesitate to write that you're looking to date casually and why (coming out of a long-term relationship, time constraints, getting back into the swing of things). Your potential matches will appreciate your honesty and there's nothing like being up-front. It keeps hearts from being broken and the wrong ideas from starting to germinate. The extended profile section on Match is the best place for this information, and put it right up at the top for all to read. And here's a tip: if you're interested in more casual dating, don't hesitate to make your profile a bit more brief and the photos fewer. Don't shy away from the entire profile building process entirely, but you're not looking to bear your soul to a potential mate. You're looking for someone that's pleasant to spend time with and jive with your wishes for a more casual relationship.

For sites like Adult Friend Finder and Lavalife, there's a heavier undertone of "looking for sexual partners." While casual dating is a possibility with these sites, there's a more accepting community of people who are looking for someone to have sex with on occasion. If that's what you're looking for - great! You'll find the ideal audience of potential partners at these sites. As with any online dating site, it's imperative to exercise caution when meeting people, but even moreso when there's an implied undertone of sex. Take the time to get to know anyone from a "hook-up" site over coffee (and preferably not over drinks so your judgment isn't impaired). Conversations reveal many things and it's much easier to pass on a prospective bed mate than it is to undo what's already been done under the covers.

And one final, but deep thought to close-out our business on casual encounters: if you're looking to date casually or have identified that you're looking only for a sexual partner, stick with that! If you're dating multiple people, consider how you're going to handle the prospect of sex. Will sleeping with one person rule-out seeing others? How are you built? Are you capable of juggling multiple dates and giving each one your focus? And the same goes for those looking only for sex: having sex doesn't mean falling in love. Be clear about your intentions and don't put yourself in a position that you're not ready or willing to handle. Granted, there's always the possibility of finding that you really click with someone, but don't revert to relationship-like behavior if you don't want to be in a relationship.

For more on dating sites whose members are interested in casual encounters, read our Passion.com review and our Lavalife review.