Serial feeling catchers; the ones who are notorious for being a little too invested in people a little too soon. 

Admittedly, I used to be one of them and let me tell you that it’s really no fun, especially since it usually comes with a tendency to think almost everyone is relationship material and ultimately, you end up being bitterly disappointed. 

“Casual”? I don’t know her. 

READ MORE: Love in the time of chemistry - can you fall in love at first scent or first swipe?  

Despite what people of the internet seem to think, catching feelings is truly a beautiful thing, but only in situations where they are reciprocated. The great thing about casual dating (and why it can possibly help serial feeling catchers navigate the dating world) is that if something doesn’t work out for you or someone shows a lack of interest, it’s so much easier to just keep it moving and enjoy all the fun parts of dating.  

So, if you’ve had enough of the usual disappointments and are looking to give ‘causal’ a try, here are a few tips that have worked for me that might help you too:

Be honest with yourself 

Before diving into the world of casual dating, it’s important to ask yourself what you really want and make sure you’ve established it before you go forth.

The worst thing you can do is lie to yourself and end up in a situation that makes you miserable. What’s great is that you don’t have to compromise - if you can’t seem to get what you want, simply move along to someone who can give it to you. No hard feelings. 

Don’t compare your situation to others

Johannesburg-based Life and Relationships coach Leah Sefor, says that comparison is the thief of joy.

“It doesn’t matter what other people are doing in their dating lives, you’re all different, finding your own unique ways. There is no normal. Everyone is on a journey of self-discovery, no matter their age. Casual dating is just another way to discover more about yourself. It’s not a competition, it’s an adventure and everyone must walk their own paths in their own ways.” 

Switch things up a bit 

According to Leah, you shouldn’t play it safe all the time by going out with the same type of people because this will result in you staying stuck in the same relationship box. 

“Variety is key. Get out of your comfort zone and explore different versions of yourself by going to different places with different people from different backgrounds and cultures and enjoy the newness of different experiences,” Leah advises.

Who knows where these new roads might take you?

Casual dating is not about 'Netflix and Chill', it's about dating! Be out, be active, have adventures - do things!

Avoid having tunnel vision 

I would do this thing where I could be talking to multiple people, and as soon as one seemed to stand out from the rest, I’d focus all my attention on that person (which always turned out to be a bad idea).

It’s important to keep your options open and give everyone a fair chance because you may find new things you like in a potential partner that you may not have previously considered.

Fixating on one person too much could cloud your judgement and you may just miss somebody better suited for you to be spending your time on. 

Leah says that casual is the opposite of committed, so don’t make it all about one person; “keep the doors open to date other people at the same time, but be open and honest with all of them about what you are doing.” 

READ MORE: I went on 3 different dates with 3 different guys in 1 day - this is what I learnt 

Don’t take offense if they aren’t that into you 

I used to be a little offended when I went on a date with someone and they didn’t follow up for a second one even if I wasn’t that into them either. Let your ego take a back seat here and understand that you may have a few experiences where there’s absolutely no spark.

Don’t take it personally or let it discourage you and make you think you’re somehow at fault. Sometimes it’s just part of the process of going through what you don’t want in order to find out what you do. 

Keep it adventurous   

Leah says that when it comes to casual dating, you shouldn’t get too comfortable, but rather go out there and have some fun experiences. “Casual dating is not about 'Netflix and Chill', it's about dating! Be out, be active, have adventures - do things!”

There are a lot more interesting memories to be made when you’re constantly trying new things with someone.

Keep friends and family out of it

A simple way to make things a lot more complicated than it needs to be is to involve family and friends in your casual dating endeavors. Not only would the person you’re casually seeing get the wrong impression, if your family and friends are anything like mine, some extremely awkward and uncomfortable questions will be asked.

Let’s avoid this one, shall we? 

Live in the moment and learn as you go along

Remember to stay in the present. Stop jumping ahead and dreaming about a fantasy life you could build together - you’re not there, you’re here.

Stay in the moment. 

Leah advises that you stop thinking in terms of success and failure and instead, approach casual dating as growth and learning. It’s important to manage your expectations and view all your casual dates as teachers who are showing you the way forward. 

Good communication does not entail ghosting.

Good communication is key

Leah suggests you keep communication open about how you are feeling and express what you want more of or less of as you spend time with different people. Establishing clear boundaries at all times is also important.

“Learn to say no if it’s really not working for you and always teach others how to treat you.” 

Good communication does not entail ghosting.

According to Leah, you should “have respect for the people you are dating. If it's not working, be big enough to tell them. Don't just cut them off with no explanation.

"If you were clear about this being casual from the beginning then they'll know where they stand with you. It's simple - don't treat someone in a way you would never want to be treated yourself,” she says.

Protect your peace

Whatever your situation may be, remember that casual dating is meant to be fun and empowering. As long as you’re happy, comfortable and respected - that’s all that matters.

If at any point you don’t feel at peace with the situations you are in, be strong enough to walk away from them. YOU are what’s important here, so never forget that. 

We asked W24's Twitter followers how they deal when they've caught feelings, and a 39% majority said they admit it wholeheartedly, while 22% run for the hills and another 22% waits for the other party involved to say something.

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