24th September 2023

Casual Relationships: What Are They? – 9 Helpful Tips

Casual Relationships: What Are They? – 9 Helpful Tips

Have you ever wondered what a casual relationship is? With the rise of dating apps and the increasing number of people looking for non-committal relationships, “casual relationship” has become more prevalent. But what exactly does it mean?

What Is a Casual Relationship?

A casual relationship is a romantic or sexual relationship between two people who do not expect commitment or exclusivity. In other words, it’s a relationship without any strings attached. Both partners agree to keep things casual and are free to see others.

Types of Casual Relationships

There are several types of romantic friendships, including on-and-off relationships, benefits relationships, casual sex relationships, near-sexual relationships, and non-romantic sexual relationships.

Each type of relationship offers its benefits and challenges, and it’s up to the individuals involved to decide which type of casual relationship is right for them.

1. Friends with Benefits

A friends-with-benefits (FWB) relationship is like having your cake and eating it too. It’s when you and a friend decide to add a sprinkle of intimacy to your bond without the expectations of a romantic partnership.

It’s all about enjoying each other’s company both in and out of the bedroom. Remember, open communication is key to maintaining a healthy FWB dynamic.

2. Casual Dating

Casual dating is like trying different flavors of ice cream – you’re exploring various connections without necessarily seeking a long-term commitment. It’s about spending time together, enjoying activities, and getting to know each other on a deeper level. The beauty of casual dating is that you both have the freedom to see other people as well.

3. Open Relationships

Imagine having a main course while still savoring some appetizers on the side. Open relationships involve a committed couple who allow each other to explore romantic or physical connections with other people. Trust and communication are the main ingredients here, ensuring that everyone’s feelings and boundaries are respected.

4. One-Night Stands

One-night stands are like spontaneous adventures – a brief and exciting encounter that may not necessarily lead to further involvement. These encounters are often fueled by mutual attraction and a desire for a passionate experience. Remember, consent and protection are vital to make these encounters safe and enjoyable.

5. Casual Companions

Sometimes, you just want someone to share activities with – whether it’s going to events, movies, or trying out new restaurants. Casual companionships offer the joy of shared experiences without the pressure of a romantic connection. These relationships thrive on shared interests and a light-hearted approach.

The Popularity of Casual Dating

According to a survey published in The Journal of Sex Research, 18.6% of male and 7.4% of female college students reported having casual sex in the last month. So, a casual partner is pretty common if you are a student. 

Even crazier, a recent study by the Archives of Sexual Behavior discovered that sixty percent of college students have participated in casual dating. That’s almost 2 out of 3 college students. 

In trying to understand the role of love styles and personality traits in people’s choice to engage in serious and/or various kinds of casual relationships (i.e., one-night stands, booty calls, and friends with benefits), this study found that men were more eager than women to engage in all types of casual relationships. It added that love styles and personality traits were more important in accounting for this behavior. 

However, when is it a casual dating relationship? The answer is not entirely clear, but we’ll let you be the judge of that. If you think you’re getting into a serious relationship, here are some signs you might be.

Related: What is Promiscuous? Understanding the Different Types of Non-Monogamy

What Do I Need to Know When Starting a Casual Relationship?

Casual Relationship
Image by Racool_studio on Freepik

If you’re considering entering a casual relationship, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Casual dating can be a positive experience but it comes with challenges and risks. In the following paragraphs, we’ll explore the pros and cons of being involved in causal intimacy, including the pressure from friends, communication, emotional attachment, physical intimacy, sexual intercourse, and relationship labels.

Communication Is Key

First and foremost, communication is key. You need to be honest with your partner about your intentions and expectations. If you’re looking for something more severe, ensure your partner knows that from the outset. Likewise, be clear if you’re only interested in a casual fling.

A study by Bumble found that 59 percent of users say they are more upfront than ever with partners about what they want, prioritizing good communication from the get-go.

They Can Be Complicated

Another factor to consider is that casual intimacy in friends-with-benefits relationships can be complicated. Even though there are no expectations of commitment, feelings can still develop. It’s essential to be aware of your emotions and to communicate them with your partner. If one of you starts to develop feelings for the other, it’s best to address it before things get too complicated.

Setting some basic rules is essential, even though you might have to ask some awkward questions. 

It’s Not For Everyone

Finally, it’s important to understand that casual dating is not for everyone. Some people may find them unfulfilling or emotionally unsatisfying. It’s important to know yourself and what you want from a relationship before entering a casual one.

Pressure from Friends

Friends can exert notable influence in the initiation of friends-with-benefits relationships, particularly when it comes to exploring casual intimacy. They may encourage their friends to pursue a casual dating to explore their sexuality or avoid getting into a committed relationship. On the other hand, friends may discourage casual relationships if they feel it’s not the right fit for their friend or if they’re concerned about their safety. Ultimately, it’s up to the individuals involved to decide whether a casual relationship is the right choice for them.

Positive Experiences

Casual relationships, often involving the element of casual intimacy, can hold a positive sway over many individuals. They allow individuals to explore their sexuality, gain new experiences, and develop a deeper understanding of themselves. Friends-with-benefits relationships can also be less complicated and stressful than long-term, committed relationships, as there are no expectations or pressures to be met. Additionally, casual intimacy can offer companionship, intimacy, and a sense of connection without a long-term relationship.

Emotional Attachment

Despite the lack of commitment, emotional attachment can develop during casual dating. This attachment can lead to hurt feelings and disappointment if one person develops stronger feelings than the other. It’s important to communicate openly and honestly about expectations and boundaries to avoid emotional attachment and ensure that both parties are on the same page.

Regarding romantic friendships, relationship experts recognize that there is always the possibility of developing romantic feelings for each other. While the main focus of casual relationships is to have fun and enjoy the company of another person without the pressure of commitment, sometimes an emotional connection can develop that leads to romantic feelings.

According to relationship coach and expert, Dr. Laura Berman, it’s not uncommon for people in casual relationships to develop feelings for each other. She explains that when two people spend time together and engage in physical intimacy, they naturally start to develop an emotional connection.

However, relationship experts caution that it’s important to be honest about these feelings and have an open conversation about what each person wants from the relationship. It’s also important to understand that even if both parties have romantic feelings, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready for a long-term commitment.

One of the main benefits of a casual dating is the freedom it provides to both parties to explore different relationship styles and experiences without the pressure of commitment. However, if one person starts to develop stronger feelings, it’s important to communicate this to the other person to avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Overall, relationship experts agree that while romantic feelings can develop in a casual relationship, it’s essential to approach these situations with honesty and an open mind about the relationship’s status and long-term commitment. Communication is key to ensuring that both parties are on the same page and that the pressure of commitment does not burden the relationship.

Safety First – Physical Intimacy and Sexual Intercourse

a person holding a contraceptive

Physical intimacy and sexual intercourse are often a part of romantic friendships. It’s crucial to prioritize sexual health and safety by using protection and getting tested regularly. It’s also essential to ensure that both parties are consenting and comfortable with the physical aspect of the relationship.

Attachment between partners can lead to a long-term partnership

Sexual intercourse in open relationships can sometimes lead to a shift in relationship status. What began as a one-night stand or sexual encounter can quickly develop into a romantic or emotional relationship.

This transformation can be attributed to various factors, including the emotional and physical intimacy of sexual activity. According to The Attachment Project, attachment styles also play a role in the way people approach and experience sexin life and even casual relationships. It states that while secure attachment is associated with a fulfilling sex life, insecure attachment styles – anxious/preoccupied, dismissive/avoidant, and disorganized – have been linked to less satisfaction and more casual sex in intimate relationships. 

When two people engage in sexual activity, they become vulnerable to each other in a way that is not present in other types of relationships. The act of sex involves not only physical closeness but also emotional vulnerability, which can lead to feelings of attachment and closeness. As a result, a casual partner can quickly become an emotional and sexual partner, developing an intimate relationship.

Furthermore, sex can catalyze communication and intimacy, critical components of a romantic relationship. Sexual partners may find themselves sharing personal information and opening up in ways they may not have done previously. This increased level of intimacy can create a bond that goes beyond physical attraction and can lead to an emotional connection.

Additionally, the physical pleasure associated with sex can lead to a desire for more frequent sexual encounters, which can lead to spending more time with the casual partner. As the relationship becomes more time-consuming, both partners may start to invest more emotional energy into the relationship, leading to a shift in the relationship status.

In conclusion, sexual intercourse in open relationships can quickly become serious due to the emotional and physical intimacy that comes with sexual activity. What begins as a sexual encounter can evolve into an emotional relationship, and the two partners may find themselves in an intimate and romantic relationship. It’s important to communicate openly with your sexual partner about your intentions and desires to avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunications about the nature of the relations.

Relationship Labels and Status

Open relationships don’t come with relationship labels or status. This lack of definition can be freeing but can also lead to confusion and uncertainty. It’s important to discuss relationship styles and expectations early on to avoid misunderstandings and ensure that both parties are comfortable with the relationship’s status.

Ending a Casual Relationship

Like any relationship, a friends-with-benefits relationship or any other type of casual relationship can come to an end. It’s essential to communicate openly and honestly about why the relationship is ending, as this can help prevent hurt feelings and confusion.

While casual relationships are characterized by their flexibility and lack of commitment, deciding to bring them to an end demands sensitivity and clear communication. Here are a few things to consider:

Honest Conversation

Just as open communication is vital in the course of a casual relationship, it’s equally important when ending one. Engage in an honest conversation with your partner, expressing your thoughts and feelings about the relationship’s direction.

State Clear Expectations

Clearly state your expectations from the outset that the relationship is temporary or casual. Reiterate this clarity when discussing its conclusion, ensuring both parties are on the same page.

Respectful Approach

Even though the relationship might not have been long-term or deeply committed, treating your partner with respect and empathy is essential. Avoid ghosting or abruptly cutting off contact without explanation.

Timing Matters

Choose an appropriate time and place for the conversation. A private and comfortable setting allows for an open exchange of thoughts and feelings.

Acknowledge Emotions

Recognize that emotions can develop in a casual relationship. Acknowledge any emotions, validate your partner’s feelings, and emphasize that the decision to end things does not reflect their worth.


Offer closure by discussing why the casual relationship is coming to an end. This helps both parties understand the reasons behind the decision and can aid in moving forward.

Be Kind and Firm

While delivering the news kindly is crucial, it’s equally important to be firm in your decision. Avoid leaving room for misinterpretation or false hope.

Give Space and Establish Clear Boundaries

After ending a casual relationship, give each other space to process the change. Establish boundaries to ensure a clean break and prevent any lingering confusion.

Avoid Blaming Any Party and Focus on Self Care

Instead of pointing fingers, focus on how the relationship may not align with your goals or needs. Blaming can lead to unnecessary tension. After ending a casual relationship, prioritize self-care. Engage in activities that bring you joy and allow yourself to heal and move forward.

Future Relationship and Long-Term, Committed Relationship

A romantic friendship may or may not lead to a future long-term, committed relationship. It’s essential to discuss expectations and potential future plans early on to avoid misunderstandings and ensure that both parties are comfortable with the relationship’s status.


In conclusion, casual relationships can be positive experiences but can also come with challenges and risks. It’s essential to communicate openly and honestly, establish boundaries, and prioritize safety and consent. Ultimately, the decision to pursue a casual relationship is a personal one that should be made with care and consideration. A relationship therapist can help provide guidance and support throughout the process.


What is a casual relationship with someone?

A casual relationship is a type of relationship where the individuals involved are not committed to each other, and there are no expectations of a long-term future together.

What is an example of a casual relationship?

An example of a casual relationship is two people who hang out and hook up without expecting exclusivity or commitment.

Is a casual relationship OK?

Whether a casual relationship is okay depends on the individuals involved and their personal preferences. Some people may be comfortable with a casual relationship, while others may not.

Does a casual relationship count as a relationship?

Yes, a casual relationship is still a type of relationship, but it differs from a committed or serious one.

What are the 2 types of casual relationships?

The two types of casual relationships are sexual and non-sexual.

What are the 4 types of relationships?

The four types of relationships are casual, serious, committed, and open.

How do you end a casual relationship?

You can end a casual relationship by being honest and direct about your feelings and intentions with the other person. It’s essential to be respectful and kind, even if you’re not interested in continuing the relationship.

What does a casual relationship mean to a guy?

A casual relationship may mean different things to different guys. Some may view it as a way to have fun without commitment, while others may see it as a stepping stone to a more serious relationship.

What is casual dating vs. dating?

Casual dating is more about having fun and enjoying someone’s company without any expectation of commitment, while dating is often more focused on finding a long-term partner.

How long do casual relationships last?

The length of a casual relationship can vary widely depending on the individuals involved and their preferences. Some may last a few weeks or months, while others may last for years.

Do you text every day in a casual relationship?

Whether or not you text everyday in a casual relationship depends on the individuals involved and their communication preferences. Some may text everyday, while others may not.

Which is better, a casual or serious relationship?

Whether a casual or serious relationship is better depends on the individuals involved and their personal preferences. Some may prefer the freedom and flexibility of a casual relationship, while others may prefer the security and stability of a serious relationship.

Can casual relationships work?

Yes, casual relationships can work if both individuals involved are on the same page about their expectations and communicate openly and honestly.

What is the point of a casual relationship?

The point of a casual relationship is to enjoy someone’s company and have fun without expecting a long-term future together.

Can you fall in love in a casual relationship?

Yes, it’s possible to fall in love in a casual relationship, but it’s not guaranteed. It depends on the individuals involved and their feelings.

What is a casual boyfriend?

A casual boyfriend is someone who you’re dating casually without any expectation of exclusivity or commitment.

What are the risks of casual dating?

The risks of casual dating include emotional attachment, miscommunication, and the possibility of getting hurt if one person develops feelings for the other.

How long can a casual relationship last?

A casual relationship can last for as long as both individuals are happy with the arrangement and their expectations are met.

Why do girls want casual relationships?

The reasons why girls want casual relationships can vary, but some may prefer the freedom and flexibility of not being tied down to one person or may not be ready for a serious commitment.

About Author

Johan Froentjes

A veteran writer for relationship content who uses academic research to write articles and provide expert insights.

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