While most people want to experience intimate connections, many believe that intimate relationships just have too many pitfalls and are not worthwhile. You might be desiring physical touch but think that relationships are too time-consuming, that you're not ready to trust someone in that way, or that you're simply not interested in committing. That's all okay! You can still pursue a causal relationship to provide comfort and intimacy without worrying about long-term commitments.
While some might argue that casual relationships—such as friends with benefits, hookups, or one-night stands—simply don't work, the truth is that different things work for different people. For some, casual relationships cause more risk than reward. For others, they can be beautifully maintained and create a positive impact on the lives of everyone involved. It's important to know what's right for you. If you've never tried being in a casual relationship but want to or are in one right now, here are some tips to get things started and maintain a healthy balance.
Important Rules for Casual Relationships
- Know what you want
- Be clear with your partner
- Establish boundaries
What Works for You
While there is certainly some overlap, many people define a casual relationship differently. It's essential that you define what a casual relationship means to you and that you are open with your partner about your needs and expectations.
Consider some of these questions: Are you and your partner open to dating other people? Are you comfortable with your partner having sex with or kissing another person? What does it mean for your relationship to be open or exclusive?
Are you interested in fostering an emotional connection or a purely physical one? Are you open to seeing each other frequently or for longer than several months if things are working out? What are your expectations about the end of the relationship?
The answers to these questions will vary for everyone, and it's important to see eye to eye with your partner. Establish early on what you want from a casual relationship and what you might expect from your partner. Your preferences will determine the best path to move forward.
Determining your needs is only the first step in entering a casual relationship. Once you know what you want, you need to be honest and clear with your partner about your decisions.
If you want to have multiple partners, maintain a purely physical relationship, and see each other only a couple times a month, then tell them! This way, you can both make informed decisions about contraception and levels of trust. Giving your partner realistic expectations is important for your casual relationship to be good for both of you.
Alternately, if you would prefer you both refrain from having sex with other people tell them! If you let something like this simmer beneath the surface, it could result in emotional turmoil for you. Instead, you could both agree on an arrangement where you exit the relationship rather than sleep with multiple partners. Knowing what to expect from your partner and knowing what they expect of you will help you avoid messy situations.
Talk About Boundaries
After both of you are aware of your expectations, desires, and needs, you can talk about boundaries. If you or your partner are uncomfortable about something, you need to bring it up. Respecting each other's boundaries will help you maintain a healthy and fulfilling casual agreement without conflict.
Establishing boundaries is about considering the practical aspects of a relationship. This might include how often you contact one another, what you contact one another for, and when you contact one another. It could include when, where, and how you spend time together.
Are you comfortable seeing each other at work or meeting each other's friends or family? Since these things are typically reserved for more formal relationships, you might want to establish this boundary. Do you wish to see each other primarily in private at one of your homes? Would you like to occasionally go out on dates?
If you both want to avoid fostering an emotional connection, you might decide that pet names or words like "I love you" are off-limits. Or, you might decide that it's most important for you to establish a solid friendship and sex is a part of the friendship, but not a priority.
Whatever flavor of relationship you decide to pursue, the most important thing is that you and your partner are both comfortable, respectful, and happy. Remember to have realistic expectations, be honest about how you feel, and have fun!