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If You're Casually Dating In 2019, Here Are 7 Things You Need To Know

If you're looking to keep things casual with a new boo or if more serious relationships aren't really your style, casual dating may be the thing for you. Of course, as my middle school social studies teacher always told me, today is the first day of the rest of your life. And if you're trying to play the field in the "digital era," there may be some major things you need to know about casually dating in 2019, before you go on your merry way.

Casual dating means something different for everyone, and if you know what you're looking for, it can be super helpful to express that to your date before things start to take off. While conversations about boundaries and relationship structures may be a little awkward, the only way to know what the heck is going on with a boo is to directly ask them about it. It's totally cool too keep things casual, to want to dodge any formal labels with your boo, or to want to keep seeing other people, no matter how long you've been dating. Communication is the key to casual dating, whatever stage of the game.

Here are seven things to know about casual dating in 2019.

1. Apps Before Drinks

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2019 is the year for dating apps. In a recent online survey by eHarmony, 27 percent of young adults reported using dating apps, which is nearly triple the 10-percent rate that was reported in 2013. There is no shame in the app game. In fact, dating apps are a great way to find whatever type of relationship you're looking for.

2. To Thine Own App, Be True

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Of course, when it comes to dating online, not all apps are built equally. In 2019 more than ever, each dating app seems to have its own brand. If you're looking for a literal long-term relationship, you may have more luck on Hinge or Coffee Meets Bagel, whereas shorter flings may be found on Tinder or Bumble. Of course, you find whatever you're looking for wherever you're looking for it — IRL or on the web — and true love or casual flings can be found on all of the above apps. But knowing the vibe that your app has may help you to understand whether or not you and your date are looking for the same thing.

3. Gender Roles Are Boring

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Write it on a statement shirt: The Future Is Free Of Gender. If titles like "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" don't feel quite right, casual dating terms like your date, boo, bae, or beau may be more comfy — they're also more gender inclusive. Gender roles are over. Finished. If you want to text first or pay for the first day, you don't need to feel sheepish at all about it. If you want to kiss two different people in the same night — as long as everything is consensual, you go, genderless angel!

4. Protect Your Heart (& Your Privates)

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While it's good to be wild, free, and fun (whatever that means to you), if you're casually dating in 2019, you should look into finding the contraceptive that's right for your body. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that STD rates have been steadily on the rise since 2013 with gonorrhea cases specially increasing by 67 percent and chlamydia outbreaks being reported at record highs. Contraceptives look different for everyone, and there's no one way to protect yourself, but speaking with your sexual partners and discussing protection can be super important before turning up the heat.

5. You Can't Assume Sh*t

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Casual dating in 2019 can mean literally anything. Is your date a booty call? A friends with benefits situation? An open relationship? Are you seeing other people? Do you tell each other when you see other people? The only way to get the answers is to ask the tough questions. If you're assuming that your casual date is going to evolve into more — you may want to check in with them about where their head is at. You can't assume anything in 2019, from what your date is looking for, to where your casual dating is headed.

6. Phones Can Only Cause Stress If You Let Them

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If your casual date has read receipts, if you can't stop looking at their Instagram, if you're reading and rereading a tweet looking for a hidden meaning, repeat this: The internet is not real life and I'm going to turn my phone off an do a face mask. In 2019, phones play a super serious role in casual dating. You have the ability to be in constant contact with your boo. It's totally natural to overthink a text or to worry about an Insta story, but if you're feeling super stressed by your phone, it's OK to turn it off for a night and give it a rest. Talking to your boo IRL about setting up some texting boundaries can also help nip any stress in the bud.

7. If It Feels Right, It Is Right

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Your relationship doesn't need to look any kind of way. Although Instagram or social media may make you feel a sort of pressure to have a more normative looking, exclusive relationship that you post couples pics of — if your relationship feels right for you, it is right for you. Your casual dating doesn't need to look like the movies, it doesn't need to sound good to your mom when she asks you about it, and it doesn't need to make sense to anyone but you and your boo. And if your casual date is starting to feel a little off, if you're thinking you want a more serious relationship, or you want to be completely single for a minute — 2019 is the year to do what's right for you. It's OK to end things, clarify things, or check in with your date as much as you need to.

When it comes to casual dating in 2019, there's a lot to consider. From the role of phones and dating apps, to the need for contraceptives — casual dating in 2019 can feel a little more complex. Of course, dating is supposed to be fun, and no matter who you're seeing, following your heart is the most important thing. And with some open communication, honesty, and sexual transparency, casual dating is going be 20-fine–teen.