If you’re human, and you’ve been single, you’ve likely pondered the idea of casual sex. Perhaps you aren’t looking for a serious relationship, or maybe you just got out of one and have no desire to jump back into the deep end with certain types of commitment. While it’s easy to say that a casual sexual relationship isn’t ideal for everyone, it can be the perfect scenario for many people. It just requires the participants to develop certain skillsets for it to be successful. Let’s dig a little deeper into this concept.
The Pro's and Con's of Friends With Benefits
what is casual sex?
Casual sex can mean different things to different people. That’s the great thing about relationships of all sorts. Each consenting person gets to create and design that dynamic that they want within that little container. Let’s take a look at some different examples of casual sex for different folks.
- Sex that takes place outside of a romantic relationship
- A sexual relationship where there is no commitment
- Sex that is light, fun, and unattached
- A sexual relationship that lasts one night
- Sex that happens at set times with a set person
Casual sex that becomes long-term quickly steps into non-exclusive relationship territory. This isn’t a bad thing. It just means that the more you hook up with someone, the greater the necessity for deeper conversations about boundaries and expectations. When you one-and-done with someone (no shame), there is very little intimacy shared outside of the act of sex. When you spend the night, have breakfast the next day, and talk about the next time, you likely need to have a more serious conversation, so everyone stays on the up-and-up.
"Communication is one of the most critical aspects of any relationship, platonic, romantic, committed, casual or otherwise"
is casual sex right for me?
Casual sex and friends with benefits are sometimes mutually exclusive and sometimes not. Each has its own advantages, as well as special considerations. If you’re getting into a friends-with-benefits scenario, you need to know some of the pros and cons so that you can decide if it’s right for you.
The pros to casual sex or friends-with-benefits scenarios include:
Physical needs being met.
Sometimes we just want to get laid. That’s ok! As long as everyone enthusiastically consists to this fun experience, go after it.
A boost to your self-esteem.
It’s totally cool to initiate a steamy rendezvous. When everyone is down for it, you’ll get a nice boost to the ego and self-esteem, even if you walk away, never to see that human again.
An opportunity to learn effective communication skills.
Making a casual or friends-with-benefits relationship work requires strong communication for it to work out well from start to finish.
Freedom to explore different types of relationships without being tied down.
Casual sexual relationships allow you to get certain needs met without committing to a specific person.
The cons of a friends-with-benefits or casual sexual relationship include:
Possibly feeling bad about the situation.
Depending on the reasons for engaging in this type of relationship, a person could experience regret.
An awkward ending if communication is lacking.
Expectations can start to blossom if these relationships begin to shift into “dating” territory without that drift being communicated.
A relationship that you didn’t bargain for.
If you aren’t careful in your interactions and communication, FWB can quickly devolve into a real-life committed relationship without you realizing it’s happening. This could be great. Or it could be the opposite of what you’re seeking.
how to navigate a healthy casual sex relationship
Navigating a healthy casual sexual relationship requires a couple of necessary ingredients. First, communicate, communicate, communicate! Second, check-in with yourself to determine your reasons for seeking out this kind of relationship. People go into these relationships for many reasons, to get over an ex, to stave off loneliness, to explore sexuality, and so much more. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to any kind of relationship, so it’s essential to do you even if other people might not understand.
Let’s talk about communication first.
Communication For Casual Sex
Communication is one of the most critical aspects for any successful relationship, platonic, romantic, committed, casual, or otherwise. To ensure your communication is on its game, first check in with your potential partner. If this is a friend, explore what this scenario might look like before you partake in it. What happens if you only have sex once? What happens if you have sex more frequently? Do you have combined friend groups? How can you avoid things getting weird (ahem, by communicating every step of the way)?
If this is a stranger, it gets a little easier and a little more complicated. It’s easier because you won’t have to navigate the potential fallout within your friend group. Maybe it’s just a one-night-stand, or maybe you only agree to hookup without any type of emotional depth. Depending on your sociosexual orientation (where you fall on the spectrum of comfort in separating or not separating intimacy and sex), the more challenging aspect is the lack of trust that is often inherent in an already established friendship. Sometimes it can be harder to let go and find your O, and other times, perhaps not. It all comes down to the second consideration.
Why Do You Want To Have Casual Sex
It’s hard to communicate your expectations if you don’t know why you’re doing it. There’s no right or wrong reason to want to have casual sex, but it is a good idea to do some self-exploration to determine why you desire this type of encounter. Again, there’s not a wrong reason. As long as you feel good about your choices, then carry on! One important thing to note is whether you’re looking for intimacy. If you’re diving into a casual sex or FWB relationship because you’re lonely and desire intimacy, you can do so, but you might experience some disappointment here. Communicating up front that you are lonely will let the other person know where you’re at emotionally. It also allows you to set your own expectations about what you will and won’t receive from this kind of relationship dynamic.
Is casual sex right for you? Only you can answer that. What’s important is that you stay open and stay safe. If you’re exploring with various casual partners, it’s always a good idea to use a condom or dam every time. It’s also a good idea to get tested for STIs to keep everyone up-to-date and informed within each interaction (see our previous article here). Casual sex can be an incredible experience for people. It provides the opportunity to explore your body, your desires and get your needs met. While it may have some drawbacks under different circumstances, it certainly has some powerful pros that could improve your quality of life.