12 Types of Dating and How They Work (2024)

Dating has evolved quite a bit over the years and there are now several different types of dating.

If you’re looking to start dating someone, you may feel overwhelmed by all the different dating formats. Whether you're looking for something or hoping to find "the one," you may find yourself wondering where to start and how to navigate the different types of dating arrangements.

This article explores the various types of dating and suggests some tips that can help you navigate each format successfully. You can choose the type of dating that works best for you.


Casual Dating

Casual dating is a type of dating that is focused on having fun and enjoying someone’s company. It typically takes a relaxed approach to dating, without any serious commitment or expectations of a long-term relationship.

For this type of dating to work, it’s important for partners to be on the same page with clear understanding and informed consent. If you would like to date casually, you should be honest with prospective partners and tell them you’re not looking for anything serious at the moment. If someone tells you they are interested in casual dating without availability or interest in commitment or a relationship, check in with yourself and be honest with yourself and with them about whether casual dating is something you are interested in and available for or if it not the right fit for you at this time.


Long-Term Dating

Long-term dating is a type of dating that is focused on building a strong and lasting relationship with someone. It involves a deeper level of emotional commitment and there may be an intention or expectation that it will lead to marriage or alive-in relationship.

For a long-term relationship to be successful, it’s important for partners to take the time to get to know each other and ensure they're compatible with each other. If you’re interested in dating someone long-term, look for a partner whose interests, values, and relationship goals align with your own.


Friends With Benefits

Friends with benefits is a dynamic where you regularly or occasionally engage in sexual activity with someone you consider a friend, without any expectation or goal of a committed romantic relationship. This is a type ofcasual relationshipthat can be enjoyable if you want a physical connection with a friend who you like and attracted to, but are not necessarily interested in developing a long-term serious relationship with for any reason.

If you’re considering a friends with benefits relationship with someone, take the time to discuss your boundaries, intentions, and expectations at the outset so that both of you are on the same page. Otherwise, one of you may get hurt and you may lose your friendship.



A situationship is a casual relationship that is in its early stages and hasn’t been defined yet. You and your partner may not have had the “What are we?” discussion or talked about a future together. The relationship may not necessarily be exclusive.

A situationship can be a difficult place to be because you’re not sure what exactly the relationship is or where it’s headed. If you find yourself in this situation, you can check in from time to time with the person who you are in a situationship with and share what you are feeling, what is working for you and what isn't, and what you would like from the relationship as you develop greater clarity on what you do or don't want.


Online Dating

Online dating has become popular with the advent of dating websites and apps. It is estimated that over 200 million people worldwide use dating apps.

Online or app dating involves creating aprofilefor yourself that shares your pictures, personal information, and interests. It allows you to browse other peoples’ profiles and reach out to people you’re interested in connecting with.

Online and app dating is one of the most common ways to meet people for dating. In order to ensure your safety, avoid being catfished, or simply check for chemistry before going on an in-person date, you can schedule an initial phone or video call with the person to verify their identify and assess for compatibility. You can choose public places for your first few dates and listen to your intuition.

Remember that it may take a number of dates with different people before you find someone who is a good potential match for what you are seeking. Take your time, pace yourself, practice patience, and take breaks as needed.

Are Dating Apps Safe?


Speed Dating

Speed datingis a structured dating format that helps you meet multiple prospective partners in a short period of time. It is organized so that you get to spend a few minutes with each person in attendance. If you meet someone you would like to get to know better and they like you as well, you are given each other's contact information to reach out to them directly after the event.

The speed dating format can be helpful if work or other responsibilities don’t give you too much time to go on dates or meet people. It helps to keep some conversation starters handy, to make the most of the time you have with each potential partner.


Blind Dating

Blind dating is when a friend, family member, colleague, or matchmaking service sets you up on a date with a person you have never seen or met before. The idea is to let you get to know the person without any preconceptions or expectations.

If you’re going on a blind date, it’s advisable to meet the person in a public place. Keep an open mind when you meet them, so you can get to know them better and decide whether or not you are interested in a second date.


Friend Set-Up

A friend set-up is similar to a blind date. A friend plays matchmaker by setting you up with someone they know, whom they think you may get along with.

If you’re going on a date your friend has set up for you, it’s important to trust their judgment and be willing to give the person a chance. If the date doesn't turn out to be a good match, communicate this honestly with your friend but try not to let it impact your friendship them. Whatever the outcome, your friend likely has caring intentions for you and ultimately chemistry and compatibility cannot be predicated or guaranteed.


Long-Distance Dating

A long-distance relationship is when you and your partner are not living in the same city and are separated by physical distance. You may have to be apart due to work, school, family obligations, immigration-related issues, or other complications.

Being in a long-distance relationship can be challenging, but it's possible with effort, commitment, and communication. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, make time for regular phone calls, video chats, and text messages to your partner so you can keep each other updated on day-to-day events and connect with each other emotionally.

Can Long Distance Relationships Work?


Group Dating

Group dating is a casual dating event where a group of people get together with the intention of doing a fun activity and possibly finding a romantic partner. This type of dating can be a great way to meet new people in a relaxed, low-pressure setting and may help you avoid some of the awkwardness or intensity of a one-on-one date.

You can choose to go on a group date with friends you feel comfortable with, or sign up for a formally organized group dating activity that’s doing something fun you enjoy, like bowling, mini golf, or a picnic in the park.


Exclusive Dating

Dating someone exclusively means you and your partner have mutually decided not to continue dating or sleeping with other people. If you like each other, find you have shared values, and think there may be compatibility for a potential relationship, you may discuss it together and agree to be exclusive. At this stage, you can focus on each other and more deeply explore compatibility and possibilities for the present and future together.

If you’re in anexclusive relationshipwith your partner, it’s important to stay faithful and monogamous to each other if this is an important element of your relationship structure. Avoid sexual and emotional entanglements with other people to honor the agreements of your relationship.


Ethical Non-Monogamy

Ethical non-monogamy involves consensual relationships that are not monogamous. There are many different types of non-monogamous relationships, including but not limited to:

  • Open relationships:In an open relationship, one or more partners in the relationship mutually agree and consent to be romantically or sexually involved with others outside the relationship.
  • Poly relationships:Inpolyamorous relationships, people have multiple intentional and intimate relationships at the same time, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.
  • Throuples:A throupleis romantic relationship between three people.

Estimates suggest that over 5% of people living in North America are in some form of consensual non-monogamous relationship. Research shows us that people in non-monogamous relationships are as happy and satisfied as those in monogamous relationships.

What Is Unicorn Polyamory?

There's nothing simple or easy about finding the person or people you'd like to spend the rest of your life with. It may take a short time or a longer time before you find you are looking for.

No matter what type of dating you engage in, know that there is no right or wrong way to date or find a partner or partners. Take your time getting to know how you feel with different people, get clarity on what you like and what you don't like, and be honest with yourself and those who you are dating in the process.

You can decide on a dating method that makes you feel the most safe and comfortable, or you can try different dating methods that may be new for you and discover more about who you are and what you want in the process. How you date and what you are seeking may change over time.

Grant yourself grace, compassion, and patience in the process of dating and learn from the experiences you have. Over time, you will be able to better realize what you want and recognize it when you find it.

3 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Castro Á, Barrada JR. Dating apps and their sociodemographic and psychosocial correlates: a systematic review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(18):6500. doi:10.3390/ijerph17186500

  2. Scoats R, Campbell C. What do we know about consensual non-monogamy? Curr Opin Psychol. 2022;48:101468. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2022.101468

  3. Rubel AN, Bogaert AF. Consensual non-monogamy: psychological well-being and relationship quality correlates. J Sex Res. 2015;52(9):961-982. doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.942722

12 Types of Dating and How They Work (1)

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Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

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