Within a relationship, couples can commit themselves in many different ways. For young couples, one common challenge is the decision between committing to casual dating or to a serious relationship, possibly leading to marriage, cohabitation or other long-term commitment. Committed, casual dating is often the precursor to long term, relationships, however, so early casual relationships can lead to greater commitment as the couple gets to know each other.

Casual or Committed?

Casual dating might involve seeing each other exclusively and regularly, but might not involve serious commitment, such as meeting each other's families, combining finances or making decisions based on the other partner’s needs. These relationships might be based on physical attraction or infatuation, rather than on love. Couples who are casually committed might go on dates, hang out or even have an intimate relationship, but plan little for the long term. On the other hand, long-term relationships generally involve planning for the future. These relationships take work and time, explains psychologist Carl Pickhardt in the article, "Confronting the Complexity of Young Love" in “Psychology Today.” Pickhardt defines a long-term, loving relationship as “hard effort and continual work.” Conversely, casual dating more often involves excitement and spontaneity. Regardless, commitment is a process, says psychologist Michelle Drew of “PsychCentral.” Commitment does not just happen overnight.