While there’s definitely nothing wrong with being in a committed long-term relationship, there’s a lot to be said for casual dating as well. When you keep things casual, you still get to enjoy a connection with another person, but in a way that stays fresh, fun, and exciting.
Plus, you’re both always free to explore as many or as few other options as you like. Your connection lasts as long as you’re both having fun. Then you simply go your separate ways without pressure, drama, or obligation.
In other words, casual sex relationships are pretty much the best of both worlds. However, getting into a casual, no-strings-attached relationship is pretty easy. Keeping it casual is sometimes a challenge. Here we’ll go over some tips for making sure your relationships stay exactly the way you want them – fun, sexy, and obligation free.
1. Set clear ground rules.
We know what you’re thinking. Aren’t rules part of what you’re looking to get away from when you choose casual sex over commitment? Actually, a failure to make clear ground rules right from the get-go is one of the main reasons misunderstandings occur. Misunderstandings lead to assumptions. Assumptions lead to drama and drama’s obviously the last thing you want.
In other words, we’re talking about good rules here – rules that will actually help both of you enjoy your relationship a lot more. Once you do find yourself hooking up with the same person on a regular basis and you both establish that a casual sex relationship is what you’d both like, it’s time to ask (and answer) some questions. Examples include but aren’t necessarily limited to:
- “I’m looking for a non-exclusive relationship where we both date other people and sleep with other people. Is that OK with you?”
- “How many times should we meet per week/month?”
- “Should we tell others about our relationship or is it a secret? If we’re telling others, who are we telling and who aren’t we?”
- “If one of us decides it’s time to end things, is it cool if we just end things abruptly?”
- “If at any time, this isn’t working for you anymore, will you be honest with me about that?”
A talk where you both ask and answer questions like these helps ensure awkward but important topics come up right in the beginning when they matter most. It helps both of you get a feel for one another’s expectations right out of the gate as well. Don’t give into the temptation to just skip it. You’ll wish you knew the answers to these after a couple of months.
2. Don’t allow the other person to control you.
Have you ever noticed that in just about every relationship there’s usually one dominant person that makes most of the decisions for both partners? They decide how often the couple gets together. They decide when they go out and where they go. They basically set the entire pace and tone of the relationship all on their own for the most part. Maybe that person is usually you. Maybe it’s not.
Just be aware that this dynamic can develop in friends-with-benefits relationships as well, so don’t let it happen to you. It might not seem like a big deal to go along with little things just to make the other person happy, especially at first, but little things turn into big things. Suddenly the person’s making unreasonable demands on your time or trying to change the focus of the relationship and you’re miserable. That’s the very furthest thing from the fun, carefree situation you’re looking for, so make sure you maintain your autonomy and call your share of the shots. If the other person doesn’t like it, walk away.
3. Don’t let feelings become part of the equation.
The quickest way to ruin a fantastic casual sex relationship is to let feelings of any kind become part of the equation. While it’s fine to go through occasional periods of infatuation if you find a really fantastic casual sex partner, it’s not fine to fall in love. If at any time you feel like you might be falling for your partner, it might be best to pull back a little bit.
The same goes for any situation where you feel like the other person is starting to fall for you. Keep in mind how a friends-with-benefits situation ultimately ends. There’s not supposed to be a happy ending here. It’s natural and normal to simply stray apart over time for one reason or another. The closer you allow yourselves to become, the harder that’s going to be when the time comes.
4. Don’t treat your partner like a girlfriend/boyfriend.
If you find someone you actually enjoy chatting to for a bit after you’ve done the deed, that’s great. It’s important not to start treating the person like you would a committed partner though. Don’t let them drag you to important events as their “plus one” (or do it to them). Don’t buy the person gifts. Definitely don’t do anything together that’s too “date-like”. Otherwise, you risk confusing the other person and making them think you want more than you do.
In fact, it’s probably best if you get together only to have sex and part ways shortly afterward. Don’t spend the night together. Don’t spend too much time hanging out socially. And don’t sit on the phone with the person and talk for hours. You can buy items to enhance your sex life together (i.e. sex toys or massage oils), but stay away from anything personal like flowers, clothing, or perfume.
5. Avoid being too available or predictable.
At its best, a casual sex relationship involves two people that expect nothing from one another. They don’t demand a certain amount of attention. They don’t feel entitled to each other’s time and resources or to information about other relationships the other person might be exploring. Make sure things stay nice and casual by behaving as if that’s the way you expect things to play out.
One way to do this is by not getting together on weeknights. Not only does this help put the brakes on any momentum your relationship may eventually pick up, but it gives both of you time and space to focus on your jobs, your families, and whatever else you’ve got going on in your life. Don’t plan too much of your weekend around the person though. Just get together once or twice for sex and stop there. Otherwise, you risk accidentally steering things into domestic territory.
6. Choose your partners carefully.
A lot of people make the mistake of starting a casual sex relationship with literally anyone they find sexually attractive. They figure since they’re not looking for a long-term commitment, attraction is all that matters. In actuality, you really want to take care who you pick for this sort of thing if you’re serious about keeping things casual and drama-free.
Avoid sleeping with anyone that’s already connected to your life in other ways. For instance, things always get dicey when you start hooking up with a good friend, or a good friend’s sister, or your boss, or your exceptionally hot landlord. If things go wrong, it could mess up your life in ways you won’t like. You’ll also probably want to avoid sleeping with two or more people from the same friends group.
Often, the best casual sex partners are people whose only existing connection to you is sex. Random hookups you meet at bars or clubs are usually good bets. So are people you meet on discreet hookup sites where people are on there looking solely for flirty, no-strings-attached fun.
7. Take advantage of your right to date around.
When it comes to casual sex and friends with benefits, people spend a lot of energy trying to figure out how close is too close. Where do you draw the line between just being friendly and acting too much like someone in a serious relationship? Most importantly of all, how do you keep one or both of you from developing feelings?
Honestly, the best way to keep yourself from becoming too invested in any one situation is to totally take advantage of your ability to talk to, date, and sleep with anyone you want. Why stop looking once you’ve found one really awesome FWB? Keep playing the field and find a second one. In the mood for a one night stand with someone completely new? Hit the singles bar or open up your hookup app and find someone you like. The busier you stay on the sex and dating front, the lower the chances of accidentally putting too many of your eggs in one basket.
8. Stay communicative and encourage your partner to do the same.
A given casual sex relationship is really only fun as long as both parties are still feeling the vibe 100%. That said, honesty and communication are really important. If something about the situation isn’t working for you, say so. If you feel your partner has crossed a line or a boundary somewhere, tell them. If for any reason, you’re just not interested in continuing the arrangement anymore, politely end it. Encourage your partner to do the same.
You don’t have to share details about other people you hook up with or talk a lot about personal things. (In fact, we recommend not doing that.) You do need to stay communicative as far as how you’re feeling about the situation. Ultimately, you’ll be glad you were.