Having casual sex without catching feelings is possible, even for the most romantic among women, but is it healthy? That depends on who you ask. If you’d like to give a no-strings-attached arrangement a try while also avoiding all the messy stuff that comes along with attachment, here are some tips.
- Look for people who want what you want. If you know that all you can handle right now is something casual, don’t even entertain the idea of going out with someone who’s looking for something real. If you’re online dating, a site like Adult Friend Finder can help in this regard, since many of its users are forthcoming about looking for some no-strings-attached fun. Being on the same page from day one is paramount.
- Know that’s all it is. Seriously though — don’t delude yourself into thinking you can force it to be more. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you like someone more than you do just because you’re sleeping with him. Your instincts in the beginning told you the truth. You think he’s fun, you’re attracted to him, but he’s not your guy. That’s okay. If you want to have a good time for now, do it. Just don’t fool yourself.
- Don’t overthink the situation. You can definitely make it weird if you try. Let it be what it is. He’s doing his thing, you’re doing yours, once in a while you get together and hook up. That’s that. It can be pretty ideal as long as you’re both on the same page. No worries about relationship crap to hamper the beauty of your single life, but you still get laid! Perfection. The problem is when you, as a girl who thinks too much, start going down the rabbit hole. Stop complicating it just because you don’t know how to let something be easy.
- Keep it light. If you want someone as a hookup buddy, you don’t need to spend a lot of time with him. Going on too many dates confuses the status of your relationship. Totally go out and have fun if you want, as long as he knows you don’t want anything more. Definitely don’t get too heavy with it. No need to have heart-to-heart, intense conversations when you’re just having a good time together. Make it strictly about sex, laughter, and maybe a fun night out here and there.
- Don’t spend too much time contacting him. You know what’s confusing as hell? Someone who tells you she only wants to be a hookup who then texts you all the time. It may feel innocent enough, but think of it from his end. Guys aren’t the only ones who send mixed messages. Yes, it’s tempting, but what can you really talk about? Unless you’re sexting in anticipation of your next meeting, not much. Let him be. He’ll be more intrigued and attracted to you if you’re independent.
- Don’t spend time on a lot of date-like activities. This confuses the relationship in both of your minds. Hanging out at his place and watching a movie pre-nookie? Not so bad. Maybe a froyo run or a drink at a local bar – short, sweet, and an opener for the main event. When you start doing serious couple-like dates like going to museums or having picnics in the park…it gets fuzzy. You’re going to get to know each other better and either lose the attraction you have now or get attached…which is okay, as long as you both feel the same way.
- Don’t expect him to behave like a boyfriend when he’s not. You can’t have it both ways, but you secretly want it that way, don’t you? If he’s a hookup buddy, he’s a hookup buddy. It’d be nice if he paid you compliments all the time, thought you were amazing, and brought you flowers…but then he’d be a lot closer to a boyfriend. You can’t expect him to fawn over you, as much as you’d love the attention. As long as he treats you with respect and takes care of you in bed, you can’t ask much more. A good guy who’s great in the sack is the perfect casual sex partner. Don’t make it weird.
- Set boundaries. Yeah, you aren’t together, but you still deserve respect and consideration as a human being. If the two of you are definitely not going to become anything more serious, you should have a conversation about what you both need from the situation. If you aren’t comfortable with him sleeping with other people, tell him. Don’t create a mess for yourself. He can’t read your mind, and maybe he has issues he wants to address as well.
- Be open and honest. If you want to have a healthy casual relationship with someone you’re having sex with, this is key. Establish this pattern from the very beginning and it’ll serve you well. When meeting someone for a purely sexual relationship, as is often the case on sites like Adult Friend Finder, this tends to be a whole lot easier since you both know the reason you’re there and what you’re looking for before you ever meet up for the first time. Often when you’re getting to know someone, you feel awkward expressing yourself with complete freedom. You aren’t sure what that person will think about it. But honestly, who cares? This is your life, your health and your happiness we’re talking about. Someone who doesn’t respect you for being honest with him is not someone you should be sleeping with.
- Keep the lines of communication clear. That’ll make everything easy, fun, and drama-free. Open communication is one of the most important elements of any relationship. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t dating – no one should be in the dark about where the two of you stand. If one of you begins to feel differently, it should be addressed right away to eliminate hurt and confusion. Over-communicating is so much better than not communicating at all!
- Be safe and have a good time! Above all, don’t compromise your health! Make sure you can trust him, and use protection. No amount of great sex is worth ending up with an STD or, God forbid, an unwanted pregnancy. Never be ashamed or embarrassed to speak up and demand he wrap it up. If he’s weird or resistant about it, then don’t let him anywhere near your vagina. Seriously. That kind of guy spells trouble for all sorts of reasons, and if he’s doing that with you…he’s done it with every other girl. Being safe means being able to relax and enjoy yourself – if he’s not down with that, chuck him.
Is casual sex healthy? Here’s what the experts say
While many people have healthy casual sex arrangements, experts are torn on whether or not this is actually good for us in the long run.
- It’s extremely hard not to catch feelings. And if you do, it’s not your fault. Even if you’re 100% sure going in that you don’t want a relationship, your body may have other ideas. “Women release oxytocin, a bonding hormone, when they have sex (and particularly when they orgasm), so in many cases, it’s hard not to feel at least a little attached,” Chloe Carmichael, Ph.D, told Women’s Health. “And of course, the more you spend any kind of physical time with someone, the more you’re likely to learn about them and get to know them on a more personal level.”
- It might not make you feel good. Multiple studies have shown that both men and women often feel regretful after engaging in casual sex, though the reasons behind this vary by gender. A Canadian study of 200 students who had casual sex showed that men regretted sleeping with women they didn’t believe were attractive enough while women tended to feel shame and self-blame. Not only that, but a separate study of 832 university students showed that only 26% of women felt good about a hookup afterward compared to half of men. Roughly 26% of men felt regretful.
- Casual sex can offer a confidence boost. On the upside, Zhana Vrangalova, a psychology professor at Cornell University who runs the Casual Sex Project, says that hooking up with people can make you feel good both inside and out. In a TEDx talk, she discussed a study of 20,000 college students which found that 42% of women and 78% of men had an orgasm during their last hookup, a discrepancy that may have to do with the fact that women feel more judged about engaging in these types of encounters. However, she still believes it’s worthwhile.
- It’s important to keep safety in mind. While hooking up with a friend or casual acquaintance may seem safe enough, it’s important to be cautious when sleeping with a stranger. As the author of Quantum Love, Laura Berman, Ph.D., advises: “You [should be] very cautious about who you’re bringing home.” In addition to letting someone know where you are at all times, you also need to make sure you’re having safe sex.
- Casual sex isn’t for everyone. At the end of the day, sleeping with someone you’re not in a relationship with and who likely doesn’t have feelings for you and never will is not something that everyone can handle, and there’s no shame in that. If you find it hard not to develop feelings for the people you sleep with, give casual sex a miss. Same goes for if you don’t feel comfortable discussing safe sex arrangements with your partners. “Casual sex can be riskier than sex in a monogamous partnership if you don’t know your partner’s current STI status and recent sexual behaviors,” Berman reminds us. If you do think this is something you can handle, proceed wisely. So, is casual sex healthy? It can be for some people. Whether it will be for you is a question only you can answer.