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    Navigating Casual Sex and Dating: Is It Right For You?

    Explore the dynamic landscape of casual sex and dating with a thoughtful examination of its suitability for you. Delve into the complexities of modern relationships, weighing the benefits and challenges that come with navigating the realm of casual connections.

    By Liv Surtees / Dec 17 2023

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    1 am “you up?” texts, broken bed frames, exploratory nights, the “are you seeing anyone else?” chat, a rigorous shaving routine, and a confusing bundle of emotions running around your head: casual sex and dating have entered the conversation.


    The world of casual sex and dating has been around forever, but it seems like more and more people are currently willing to give it a go. Whether it’s down to busy work schedules, not being ready for a committed relationship, or simply the desire to explore sexual desires with multiple people, more people are turning to one-night flings and ongoing hookups with friends (or even acquaintances) to give them the pleasure they want, sans commitment. 


    If you’re currently having casual sex, involved in a casual relationship, or you’re eager to explore it but apprehensive because you don’t know if it’s right for you, read on!

    what is casual sex?

    Before we dive into the benefits, risks, and how-to tips of casual sex and dating it’s important to first understand what casual sex and dating actually mean and involve.


    Although they might be grouped into the same category since they typically overlap, both casual sex and casual dating can exist independently of each other.


    So, let’s take a look at what defines casual sex, and then we’ll move on to casual dating!


    Casual sex can be defined as people having sex without any kind of commitment or expectation of future commitment. Casual sex can either be explored with multiple people or with one person (for example, a friends with benefits situation). Casual sex can be used to describe anything from a one-night stand to an ongoing hookup - as long as there’s no dating involved or type of commitment, then the “casual sex” label can be used to describe it, on its own.

    what is casual dating?

    Although casual dating can include casual sex, it doesn’t always have to involve sexual activity. Casual dating describes the situation where two people date (sometimes exclusively, sometimes openly) without any intention of taking things to the next level and entering into a committed relationship together. This type of dating doesn’t have any “goal” and is typically communicated openly between the two people engaging in these dates.

    sexual health

    benefits of casual sex + dating

    Whilst casual sex and dating can exist independently, they both have essentially the same benefits and risks. So, let’s take a look at the reasons why these types of relationships might be good for you!

    1. provides connection without commitment

    Some people enjoy casual sex and dating because it provides them with the intimacy, fun, and romantic (or sexual connection) that they want in their lives without the need for any commitment. Whether they’re not ready to get into a relationship or their lives are too busy for someone to bring into right now, this situation can be incredibly beneficial for fulfilling needs without any long-term commitment. 

    2. allows you to live a fully independent life

    For some, they simply don’t have the want or need to bring someone into their life on a committed basis. Instead, they want to live a fully independent life. So, casual sex and dating can be a great way to continue living independently whilst still not missing out on their romantic and sexual desires.

    3. gives you the opportunity to explore what you want

    Whether someone is unsure what they’re actually looking for in a person or they want to explore their sexuality further to figure out what they like, casual sex and dating provide the opportunity to explore different types of connections with people.

    4. can help you develop positive connections with others

    Just because people don’t want a long-term committed relationship doesn’t mean they don’t want to have romantic and sexual connections with people: this is still a human instinct and a very normal desire. Casual relationships allow them to make these connections whilst staying true to what they want. 

    5. regular sex without a relationship

    A lot of people want to enjoy a regular sex life, regardless of their relationship status. For those that don’t want to have sex with one partner on a long-term basis, casual sex can provide the regularity they’re looking for. More specifically, if someone only wants to engage in casual sex then they don’t have to spend their time actively dating just to enjoy sex.

    potential risks of casual sex + dating

    The benefits of casual relationships are wonderful, but like pretty much everything, all good things come with risks! Let’s take a look at a few of the most commonly known risks of casual sex and dating, now.

    1. emotional attachments might complicate things

    The biggest risk of entering into a casual relationship of any kind is that emotional attachments may form and this can cause complications. Whether one person starts to catch feelings for the other, or both people involved like each other but collectively don’t want it to go anywhere, being in casual relationships can bring up a lot of complicated emotions.

    2. lack of communication can lead to feelings being hurt

    Whilst a one-off casual situation might not hit you deep in the feels, in most ongoing casual situations it’s inevitable that feelings are going to be brought to the surface. As long as both people are in open, realistic, and continuous communication with each other, these emotions can be dealt with in the best way possible. However, when the communication isn’t there, that’s when things will start to go wrong. 

    3. can use it as a way to avoid emotional needs 

    Unfortunately for those who want to engage in non-committed casual relationships, sometimes people can hide behind the “casual” definition and not be honest about the fact that they actually have the desire to be in a committed relationship or that they are looking to develop real emotions for someone.

    4. may be a heightened risk of stis

    Whilst not always the case (especially if you are casually dating and not engaging in sexual activity with people), if you are casually having sex with multiple people (or the person you’re having sex with is having sex with others), you may be at a higher risk of developing an STD than you would be with a committed monogamous partner.

    5 tips to navigate casual sex + dating

    1. Get Clear On What You Want and Check-In With Yourself Regularly


    Before engaging in any kind of casual relationship it’s important to get clear on what you’re looking for from your romantic/sex life. As you engage in casual relationships, continue to check in with yourself regularly and see if your needs have changed and if the situations you’re in are giving you what you desire.


    2. Be An Honest and Open Communicator


    Having good communication is an integral part of being in casual relationships. So, make sure you’re constantly practising clear and honest communication with your partner(s) to ensure feelings don’t get hurt and expectations and boundaries are clear.


    3. Set Boundaries and Expectations, Then Stick To Them


    If you’re only wanting to engage in casual sex with someone, don’t tell them how much you’d love to go away with them to visit your family or take them on a weekly date night. Whatever type of casual situation you’re in, you need to set your boundaries and expectations with each partner and stick to them - this will help to reduce the likelihood of lines being blurred and minimise the likelihood of feelings being hurt.


    4. Use Protection, Contraceptives, and Get STD Checks 


    Sexual wellness is incredibly important in casual relationships (as well as long-term committed ones of course), so make sure you are using protection, contraceptives, and getting regular STD checks to stay safe!


    5. Embrace Your Choices And Always Be Kind


    There may be people that cast criticism on casual relationships, and you simply need to not give your energy to them. Do whatever you want (consensually and respectfully, of course) and live a life that makes you happy. What you want in your life is up to you, so embrace it, say bye to the haters, and have fun!

    what happens when it doesn't feel casual anymore? your feelings might be explained scientifically

    You might be here because you’ve entered into a casual relationship of some sort and thought you could handle whatever came your way, but now you’ve caught the feels and you’re looking for advice - trust me, I’ve been there and it’s tough! 


    Whilst I’m definitely not here to tell you that it’s a simple case of reprogramming your brain, I am here to tell you that what might be happening in your mind is triggered by biology and you might not actually have the feels for real - yes, there’s hope!


    If you’ve been having sex with someone on a regular basis, you are likely to experience romantic feelings towards them since the love/bonding hormone, oxytocin, is released during sex. 


    This makes us feel like we are more closely bonded to our partner than we might actually be, or tricks us into feeling more romantically invested in them than we actually are.


    So, yes, you might have it bad for the person you’ve been getting jiggy with (and if you do, communicate with them ASAP!), but it might also be that our bodies are being a little cheeky and working against us. So, remember this the next time you feel like showing up at the door of your sex partner with roses and chocolates - it might just help!

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