by Stormie Laine Knott

My name is Stormie, and I’m a serial monogamist. A few months ago, I decided to break the cycle of constant relationships and try something brand new: casual dating. If you’re used to consistent companionship from one significant other and you also have crippling anxiety when meeting new people, the idea of casual dating might scare you half to death. It’s ok. The idea of casual dating freaked me out at first too, but there is hope. Here are my 8 tips for surviving (and maybe even totally enjoying) casual dating, on and off-line.

1. When you’re going on a date with a guy you’ve just met, screw conventions and pick the time and place yourself.

Would you judge me if I told you that I basically went on the same date with four different guys in the course of one week this summer? Well, you shouldn’t! For a first date with a stranger, it pays to suggest a place you’re familiar with: you’ll know exactly what to order and exactly which server to make eye contact with if your date is giving you the creeps. If things are going well after a drink or two, casually suggesting a walk down to say, the San Clemente Pier with a six pack of Sculpin IPA’s after will put you in a comfier, quieter setting than a restaurant without ever having to step foot into anyone’s apartment. It sure beats meeting a Hinge dude at his house, which I may or may not have done the first time I ever met a dude off the internet in real life. Oops!

2. Once you’ve picked the time and place – show up 10 minutes late.

Showing up late to a date gives the guy time to get a table and get settled in, so you’re not stuck in that awkward pre-table phase of conversation at a restaurant: the one where you’re kind of talking about stuff but also not totally having a real conversation yet because, well, you’re about to make a trek through a crowded, loud room to a table. And fine, if you’re a Type A, you can text them and tell them you’re running late.

3. Share your location perpetually with trusted roommates, coworkers, and siblings.

One time I showed up two and a half hours late to work because I slept through my alarm. My gracious boss wasn’t mad at all, but she and my coworkers were totally freaked that I’d been abducted on the date I told them I was going on the night before. Since then I’ve shared my location perpetually with my work friends using the Apple iPhone Find My Friends feature. Now my friends can check on me when I’m MIA- giving them and myself peace of mind.

4. If you’re not sold on the guy, don’t write him off: tell him you want to meet at 7 AM on a weekday, and see how he responds.

I dated a Tinder guy for seven months. Though I wasn’t totally enamored with him online, I decided to give him a chance. I asked him to meet me at 7 AM on a Wednesday for a one hour coffee date before I started work. He did, and he turned out to be one of the best guys I’ve ever met in my life. It was totally worth the early wake up call for all the fun and joy we shared in the following months.

5. If you’re going to casually date more than one guy at once, make sure they ALL understand the situation, and just what “casually dating” entails.

I recently reconnected with a guy who was the whole package: smart, funny, cute, successful, creative, and kind. Whether as a friend or otherwise, I knew I wanted him in my life. The trouble was, I didn’t communicate exactly what I meant when I told him I was casually dating, because I hadn’t actually figured out what it meant for me yet. Once I did figure it out, it was too late to explain to him what casually dating would look like for me, because it was already happening.

He ended up pulling away. He felt like he couldn’t trust me because I hadn’t communicated well with him what my relationship with other guys would look like. Figure out what boundaries you want to set for yourself physically and emotionally in casual dating and make sure the people you’re casually dating understand what those are. Otherwise, you risk losing an amazing guy who could have been a great romantic companion or life-long friend.

6. Carry pepper spray!

Half of you are saying, “duh.” The other half are saying, “Isn’t that a little extreme?” Trust me honeys when I say a majority of serial killers will treat you great on the first date- until the end, of course. If you don’t believe me, it’s time you had some healthy fear instilled in you by the best podcast on earth, “My Favorite Murder” by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Take a listen and then tell me you don’t think it’s a good idea to show up weaponless on a first date.

7. Be confident AF – even if you think you’re lame.

I recently saw this adorable guy playing guitar in a band at a bar. Between sets, I wrote my number down on a piece of paper and wrapped it around a drink. “I got this for you,” I whispered in his ear, batting my eyelashes. And then, because I am definitely uncool in every way, I lamely clarified, “AND my NUMBER’s on it.” He was totally sweet and told me he’d text me, and when he got on stage he thanked me in the microphone. I proceeded to make matters worse by FINGER GUNNING HIM when he mentioned my name from the stage. Ugh. Despite these majorly lame and awkward choices on my part, he texted me the next day, and we’ve been casually hanging out for a few months. The moral of the story is: risk being confident and lame. You just might meet a magical human that you totally adore.

8. Wear knee high socks.

Now that I think of it, the guitar player might have only been able to look past how lame I was because I was wearing a skirt with knee high socks. I’m tellin’ ya honeys, knee high socks can blot out many a transgression.

Now that you’ve got these new tools in hand, it’s time to get out there. Let me know how these tips work out for you, and comment your own casual dating tips below. Happy dating, honeys!

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