I'm all about having the best sex you can and improving your life through that sex. So it should come as no surprise that I'm no stranger to the one-night stand. But I'm also familiar with the realities of casual sex, some of which may have stopped you from having casual sex in the past!
The good news is that a few precautions and a level head can make you a pro at casual sex. Just follow my advice below:
1. Someone Always Develops EmotionsIf you’ve got a regular casual sex partner or you’re having casual sex with a friend with benefits then it’s common for you to run into the issue that one of you develops feelings for the other. If that’s you, you might continue having casual sex in hopes the same happens to him. When you’re on the receiving end of that affection, you might feel a little resentment because your sex buddy didn’t follow through on his end of the “deal.”
But in the real world, it’s incredibly hard not to be physically intimate with someone without having feelings develop. This is in part due to hormones such as oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone, which is released during and after orgasm.
2. You Feel Jealousy Even if You’re Not AttachedSome people will argue that you can’t feel jealousy over a casual sex partner if you don’t have other feelings, but this isn’t true. You can simply be jealous if you know he’s dating or having sex with other women because you want his sexual energy. Like having romantic feelings, having jealousy can ruin a good thing. Or it may be a sign that this agreement was too good to be true.
3. It’s Hard to Talk About Boundaries
When it comes to casual sex, you’ve got to be able to set your boundaries. Let a guy know that it’s a one night stand. Otherwise you could be leading him on. You should at least try to discuss whether you can cuddle or if he’s going to spend the night. And discussing the use of condoms or birth control is a must because you don’t want to play with your sexual health.
4. Pinpointing STIs Can Be HardEven if you do use condoms, you might still get a sexually-transmitted infection from casual sex. Although it’s wise to have STD screening done after you’ve had sex with a new partner, this might not be easy to do if your sex schedule is busy.
So if you do discover an STI, you might have a long list of people who might have given it to you. That same list of people also needs to be notified of your STI status, which is never an easy phone call. And it may be impossible because…
5. There Are A Lot of Phone Numbers to Keep Track of
The more partners you have, the longer your contact list becomes. This might not be overly difficult if you don’t sleep with many people – or if you don’t keep their numbers. This former strategy certainly works, but this might lead to you receiving a message from someone who is no longer in your phone book who wants a booty call, and it’s even more embarrassing when the situation happens to you!
6. Slut Shaming from Other WomenLet’s say you do keep a digital Little Black Book of full men’s names and numbers – and perhaps some more naughty stats. What do you do when your sister, mom or best friend inquires about it? Perhaps you want to open up to some of your female friends about your nighttime escapades. But what if you’re faced with something you weren’t expecting? Slut shaming!
In short, slut shaming occurs when anyone judges you for having sex that they deem to be “slutty.” According to their worldview, you may have sex too often, with too many people or even the wrong kind of sex for another person’s moral beliefs. Unfortunately, slut-shaming happens all too often, and you can even be slut-shamed for walking, dressing or doing your makeup the “wrong” way.
Remember that another person’s morals aren’t the same as yours, and what they say doesn’t have to affect your life.
7. You Don’t Know if You Can Trust These MenYour safety is of the utmost importance, and having casual sex changes things. You might not know these men as well as you would know a serious partner or even a FWB. Consider a screening process before you hop into bed with them. A great option is grabbing a drink first at a local bar, where you’re known, to determine whether the guy is cool or a creep.
You might also set up a check-in call or text with a friend. Give her the picture, name and phone number of the guy you’re seeing. If possible, send over his address. If you don’t check in at the agreed-upon time, she can head over or even call the cops to make sure you’re okay!
8. It Can Be Difficult to Voice Your NeedsSome women have a hard time describing what it is they crave in the bedroom. This may be due to the fact that some sections of society wants women to be subservient more often than not. The result is lackluster sex, but why would you have casual sex if it’s not going to make your toes curl?!
So you’ve got to be able to ask for what you need every time, especially if you’re not well acquainted with the hunk you’re going to hook up with. Assertiveness can improve your experience with casual sex. Plus, you needn’t worry if a stranger thinks your sexual desires are a little weird if you know you’ll never see him again!
9. He Might Have Weird FetishesWhen you’re in a committed relationship with someone, you’re more likely to try out pegging or spanking if that’s his thing because you care about him and want to make him happy. But you’re likely much less invested in him if it’s just casual sex.
Plus, activities like BDSM can be potentially dangerous if you don’t fully trust your play partner, which is why BDSM contracts and safe words are so important.
10. The Sex Might Not Be That GoodThink about all the sex you’ve ever had that was sort of mediocre, awkward or even downright bad. Chances are, these were your first times with new partners or even your first time having sex. The more you get to know someone, the better you get to know each other’s preferences and bodies. This is good when it comes to having great sex in a long-term relationship.
But it means casual sex might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe chemistry, novelty and a sense of taboo can lead to the sort of high that means nothing can bring you back down, even not getting off. However, you need to be prepared that you might not get off. He may try, or he may not even care. And if you’re someone who has casual sex with someone you meet at the bar, you might run into some whiskey dick, where the alcohol in his system prevents him from getting hard.
The reality of casual sex sometimes isn’t that sexy, which means this lifestyle isn’t for everyone.
11. You May Not Be PreparedEven though you might never see him again, you probably want to knock his socks off. This means dressing sexy, having your hair and makeup done and smelling divine! This may also mean shaving or other hair removal. If a no-strings-attached sex opportunity pops up quickly, however, you may not be fully prepared and may feel sexual anxiety because of it.
Both men and women can experience anxiety related to casual sex.
12. You Can Feel Self-conscious About Your BodyWhen it comes to a partner who loves you, relaxing may be easy because they know how your humor, intellect and other personality traits come into play. But when we’re talking about a one-night stand, if you feel a little jiggly about the middle or bloated because of hormones, this can really ruin your mood.
You can help to curb your body anxiety by remembering that you never have to see him again. Remember that while you might think this guy is drop-dead gorgeous, he also has his imperfections. And he’s likely more focused on whether he looks good and can perform to your standards. So give yourself a break and have fun!
How to Be a Good Casual Sex Partner
- If you want to be good at casual sex, you need to be good at sex. Be involved and engaged. Show enthusiasm. Show your partner that you’re willing to give pleasure and to experiment. However, it’s not all about them. Casual sex is for you, too. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Let your partner know if you need something else or guide his hands to show him how you like it. Touch yourself to get yourself off, and don’t be afraid to make a little noise.
- An active sex partner makes all the difference whether you are with a casual sex partner or your husband of the last 20 years.
- One key element to successful casual sex is to keep it casual. Although it’s never polite to jump up from sex immediately or to kick someone out of your bed. However, you may not be able to spend the night or to allow someone to do the same. You can alleviate these concerns by letting your partner know that you can’t stay all night or that he cannot do the same.
- You want to maintain a bit of healthy distance, so you may want to avoid discussions about things outside of the bedroom. And you certainly don’t want to discuss anything that might be construed as romantic between the two of you. Don’t make plans that involve anything other than sex (or maybe Netflix). Activities like that can easily blur the lines if you just want to keep it casual.
- In the same vein, don’t expect to become too chummy with this guy’s roommates, friends, or family members. He shouldn’t ignore you in public, but he may prefer you not making a big deal out your casual arrangement. Respect his privacy. Equally, he needs to respect yours too.
- Sometimes sex can elicit feelings like maybe you want more than just sex even if you don’t particularly like that person. This is normal and happens because of the powerful hormones released during and after sex. Oxytocin is also known as the cuddle hormone, and it can make you feel fond of a sexual partner. Hold off on making any of those decisions until after the hormones have settled.
- Furthermore, jealousy has no place in casual sex. By its very nature, casual sex indicates you’re not monogamous. Either or both of you may have other partners (or not). Depending on how comfortable you are with this thought, you may be able to discuss other partners. But it’s okay if you can’t, and you specify that this kind of talk is off limits.
- The key to a successful casual sex relationship is setting and adhering to boundaries, and these boundaries may vary with each partner. Figure out what you need to do to make the arrangement work.
- If you’re incapable of sleeping with someone casually or using it to try to get someone to fall for you, you will likely be disappointed. Although many people have tried this and clung to the scraps of care they received through sexual activities, it will only hurt you to prolong cutting things off.
- Finally, remember the rules if your casual sex partner is ongoing. Be sure that your communications (often through text or other messaging services) don’t inundate your partner. Focus on making sex-specific plans, not dates.
- Figure out how often it’s okay to hit this up person, how persistent you can be if you want to get together for sex, and when you can message or even call. Everyone has their own needs, which brings us back to the boundaries we just discussed.
Casual Sex Versus FWBAfter you sleep with a person for a while, they may move from a casual lay to friend-with-benefits. There can be overlap between casual sex and friends-with-benefits depending on your definition of each term. Casual sex can be an ongoing thing for some people, especially if they’re good at compartmentalizing.
The difference is that a friend-with-benefits is just that: a friend. You may still participate in friendly activities, talk to one another about things other than sleeping together, see each other at social gatherings, and discuss your life outside the bedroom together.
You may want to return to that level of friendship someday if you stop sleeping together. Although you may not be especially close, it’s important to handle the situation with care. Because FWB arrangements can sometimes go south, you may want to avoid having sex with close friends to protect the friendship.
If either of you starts to develop feelings, you’ll need to talk about it. And you may need to stop having sex to save the friendship.
Just as with casual sex, your friend-with-benefits might have other partners. They may eventually wind up in a relationship (or you could), and the two of you will always recognize that you’ve seen each other naked, had sex, etc.
Occasionally people think that they can handle an FWB arrangement but realize that they cannot, and their friendship ends because of it.
Don’t Forget Your Safer Sex Kit!Casual sex can happen quite spontaneously, and it may not happen as your originally planned. This means you may not have items available that can promote safer, healthier sex (not to mention better sex!). That is, of course, unless you keep a safer sex kit.
What is a safer sex kit? It’s simply a few items you can keep on you whenever casual sex might be a possibility. These can go in your purse if you already carry one. You can also keep these items in a Ziploc bag, a pencil case, or even a small plastic container.
The size of your container depends on what you want to include in your safer sex kit. Here are a few options:
- Condoms (male or female, multiple sizes)
- Lube (packets or travel/sample-sized bottles)
- Dental dams
- Gloves (choose non-latex if you a condom allergy)
You can upgrade your kit from a safety kit to a fun+hygiene with the following:
- Personal wipes
- A small vibrator (think bullet style)
- Mouthwash or toothbrush/paste (mints will do in a hurry)
- A comb or brush
- Cock rings
If you like kinky activities, your safer sex kit might include alcohol wipes, bandages, a safety scissor, and cotton.
Just make sure that everything fits into your bag or container, and you’re good to go. Male condoms and dental dams already come in packets, and you can stick to samples of lube rather than bringing the bottle. A bullet vibrator doesn’t sit flat like the other items, but if you’re willing to devote more space to your safer sex kit, you can even try a small clitoral stimulator.
Check out these recommendations for vibrators and other sex toys.
The point of the safer sex kit is to protect against STIs and pregnancy even if you’re not sure that you’ll need it. Casual sex sometimes happens without prior planning. You know what they say: you’re better safe than sorry. So toss it in your bag or keep it in your purse (make sure that nothing sharp will come into contact with the condoms or lube).
If you don’t want to carry it on you at all times, make a point to grab it before you participate in activities that are conducive to sex such as drinking or partying.
Make sure to replenish anything you use.
When it comes to casual sex, you have to know and trust yourself, including your instincts. If something feels wrong, be prepared to walk away. Know that you won’t hit it out of the ballpark every time, but if you just need to scratch that itch, like to meet new people or aren’t ready to settle down, then I hope you’ll follow this advice to have amazing casual sex!
- Nautilus has an interesting article about how casual sex might be improving marriages.
- Maria Konnikova of the New Yorker tackles discusses casual sex and who is doing it.
- AskMen suggests rules for casual sex and where to find partners.
- Does Tinder really lead to more casual sex? Not necessarily, according to this Fortune article.
- Charyn Pfeuffer doesn’t think that casual sex deserves its bad rap.
- Check out this video that tackles the casual sex and healthiness debate.
Frequently Asked QuestionsFAQ #1 – Will I regret casual sex?
Maybe. It’s true that more women than men regret casual sex, perhaps because the woman decided to have sex for reasons that were different from the man. Being comfortable with your partner is important for good sex even if it’s just a casual encounter. Women are less likely to be comfortable during casual sex than men, however.
Having a drink (but not too many) and making out can help you get comfortable. You might also feel more at ease if you discuss boundaries and safer sex beforehand; although, that’s easier said than done.
Furthermore, engaging in a variety of sexual activities increases the likelihood of your satisfaction and orgasm. In fact, one study finds that three activities — mutual genital stimulation, deep kissing, and receiving oral sex — are the key to female orgasm.
It’s okay if you try casual sex and find it’s not for you. Both men and women enjoy casual sex less than committed sex. And people who are extroverted have more sex than introverts, which might play into whether casual sex does it for you.
Furthermore, if you don’t seek a lot of novelty, casual sex might not be for you. The “thrill” of casual sex is one of four main reasons why people do it.
FAQ #2 – How common is casual sex?
We’ve all heard the concern over hookup culture taking over. No one is getting into relationships anymore. However, casual sex might not be as common as the fraught headlines would have you believe. One study looked at young adults between 18 and 25 and found that over 40% of the sample had engaged in casual sex over the past year between 2004 and 2012 whereas the number was closer to 30% for a similar group surveyed between 1988 and 1996. But the survey did not find that people had more sex partners.
Furthermore, another study found that participants who were currently in an exclusive dating relationship were more likely to have had casual sex than those who were single. So people having casual sex aren’t staying single forever.
Another study determined that 3/4 of young adults have had casual sex at least once by the age of 23. 44% of female college students and 64% of men aged between 14 and April of their freshman year have had casual sex according to one survey. This could be due to experimentation with alcohol as a young adult as alcohol correlates with more one-night stands or casual sex.
So, yes, a sizeable group of people has casual sex sometimes. But the world will not come crashing down because of it.
FAQ #3 – Is casual sex unhealthy?
Casual sex is not intrinsically unhealthy and doesn’t have to result in negative psychological outcomes. Another study found that casual sex has no causal relationship with depression in adolescents.
Although, you can make unhealthy decisions regarding casual sex…
For example, women may not consistently use condoms during casual sex, and people who use dating apps to find hookups don’t always use condoms. Using condoms during casual sex might even occur infrequently.
Keep in mind that sex which occurs within the boundaries of a relationship, can also be unhealthy.
It’s important that you only have sex that you really want, that you use condoms or dental dams when appropriate, that you speak up about your needs, and that you pay attention to your body’s responses.
Regarding STIs specifically, frequent testing can check for any infections that might need treatment. Plus, you can take time off sex if you’re in a stage when an infection can be transmitted.
It’s not more unhealthy to have casual sex than any other type of sex as long as you’re prepared, careful, and true to yourself.
FAQ #4 – Isn’t casual sex just for men?
While men regret casual sex less often than women, many women enjoy casual sex. And some women aren’t interested in relationships, only casual dating. Feeling too young to settle down is common for people who have casual sex.
FAQ #5 – When is casual sex a bad idea?
If you don’t really want it, don’t feel safe, are heavily inebriated, think someone will approve of you if you have sex with them, or are trying to use sex as a way to get someone to like you, it’s probably a bad idea.
Studies have shown that women, depending on attitudes and affect, can have high or low self-esteem related to their experiences with casual sex and that it doesn’t mean that those who enjoy casual sex have low self-esteem or find it emotionally damaging, although poor mental health and casual sex can reinforce each other. It’s not uncommon for women to experience psychological distress after casual encounters.
Unless you’re excited about casual sex simply for the sake of sex, pleasure, and perhaps stress-release, you might not enjoy it. But if you’re all in it for the pleasure, casual sex can be enjoyable, and physical motivations are more common for casual sex.
FAQ #6 – Is there etiquette for casual sex?
Generally, you shouldn’t expect to spend the night or get to know friends and family members when having casual sex. Respect his privacy. You can also talk about any specific preferences before getting down to it. For example, some people prefer not to kiss people if they’re not in a relationship.
And don’t forget to bring things for safer sex: condoms, dental dams, lube, etc.
FAQ #7 – Casual sex doesn’t feel good. What am I doing wrong?
As I mentioned, sex feels better when you’re fully relaxed and aroused. Slow down and add more activities. Blowjobs are often more common during casual sex than cunnilingus, well that’s based on a study on ads posted to Craigslist of heterosexual men and women people seeking each other. But you don’t need to have sex with anyone who won’t go down on you! Lube can help if you’re experiencing vaginal dryness.
However, some people are just unable to be comfortable with someone they don’t know well, and it’s hard to have great sex when it’s your first time together. One study shows that women who engage in first-time and casual sex don’t necessarily feel as sexy as they do with a long term partner. Disappointment is one of the most common negative feelings after sex, so you’re not alone. It takes time to get to know each other’s preferences and bodies.
So, I hope that what you take from this is that it’s okay if casual sex just isn’t your style.
FAQ #8 – How do I talk about safer sex with a casual partner?
Unfortunately, many people don’t talk about safer sex when it comes to casual sex. So your partner might be surprised when you bring it up, and you may not have much practice.
If you show up with your safer sex kit, you can simply say, “Hey, I brought some lube and condoms, so we’re covered.” The conversation doesn’t have to be lengthy or a big deal. Simply bringing one out and asking “Condom?” can be all you need. Plus, you can put it on your partner to make it sexier.
You can be more explicit about your sexual safety and say something like “Before we go any further, I’d just like you know that I have no infections, am on birth control, and I prefer oral sex with dental dams.” That segue works well if you’re already engaged in some making out or similar foreplay activities before making genital contact. Keep in mind that birth control only prevents pregnancy, not STIs.
Be prepared that some people might not want to use a condom. If you’re concerned with your sexual health, you need to be prepared to say “No” to sex or postpone it until the time at which both of you has a clean bill of health. If your partner doesn’t want to use a condom because it “doesn’t feel as good,” you can remind him that sex with a condom feels better than not having sex. Feel free to stand your ground or walk away.
Ideally, you would have this conversation before you’re having sex. But there may not be a lot of time with casual sex.
FAQ #9 – How do I let someone know if I want to have sex again?
If you had a particularly good time with a casual sex partner, you might want to do it again. You can simply say “That was fun. We should do it again.” Or if you have his contact info, you can send one of those infamous “What are you up to?” texts to see if he bites. Some people aren’t interested in repeat sex with a casual sex partner, and some guys may worry that wanting to do it again means you’re interested in a relationship, so be prepared if he doesn’t reply or express interest in more sex.