What is Casual sex? 12 Rules for Hot Hookups

Dating apps, booty calls, friends with benefits… Casual sex is all the rampage, but are we doing it right? Successful “no strings attached” relationships need a combination of good sex and a healthy attitude. How to have casual sex? Follow these 12 guidelines.

Lesbian couple kissing passionately against a wall

What is casual sex?

Casual sex is non-committed sex for pleasure alone. Not sex for romance, intimacy, or (god forbid) babies. Sex for sex. It typically covers any sexual encounters between people without emotional attachment or the possibility of a relationship.

It can be a one-night-stand (or series of them), sleeping with the same person a couple of times, or having casual hookups with the same person over years - without romance.

It’s believed that 70% of US college students have had a casual hookup. More and more people are viewing casual hookups as the new norm, and having a high number of previous sex partners is no longer a big deal.

Casual hookups: What are we doing wrong?

Yes, sometimes casual hookups don’t work. In fact, too often they don’t work. Why? Despite there being endless advice books on committed relationships, there are almost no guidelines on how to have casual sex. Everyone has stories of unsatisfying one-night-stands and ambiguous relationships that leave one person feeling sore.

One-night-stands can be 2 things: Awkward and fumbly.

What is casual sex? If it’s first time sex with someone, it can be clumsy. You don’t know each other’s likes and dislikes and you’re too shy to ask or tell them what to do. Also, the “orgasm gap” - the difference between men and women having orgasms - is bigger than normal during casual hookups.

Couple in bed looking serious and unhappy

Feelings get in the way.

Even if you go into a casual sex relationship wanting to keep things light, you can still catch feelings. And it hurts when they’re not reciprocated. Even if you don’t catch real feelings, the casual nature of these hookups means that ignored texts, ghosting, and people moving on fast, comes with the territory. If you’re not mentally set for this it could get you down.

Shame prevents you from really enjoying yourself.

However sex-positive and liberated you are, it can be difficult to shirk off those old fashioned views that sex outside marriage is a sin. Women, in particular, deal with shame around sex and tend to avoid talking proudly about their sex lives. We can blame things like the “Walk of Shame” and “slut-shaming” for this - again.

You don’t have to be in a committed relationship to have amazing sex that you feel physically and emotionally good about! Here’s how.

How to have casual sex: 12 guidelines for successful, long-term hooking up.

1. Pick the right candidate.

The hot girl you’ve been making eyes at across the bar all night? Great. Your coworker? Not great. Someone you’re in a close friendship group with? NEXT. Couple in bed having sex close up of lingerie

2. Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons...

Do you secretly like this person and are hoping casual sex will turn into a relationship? Stop right now. Are you just feeling lonely? Or trying to get over someone? Casual sex will likely make you feel emptier.

If you’re doing it because you just love non-committal sex, you want to explore yourself sexually, or you know casual hookups are an experience you want to have and you feel good about, go for it.

3. ...and manage your expectations throughout.

Even if you go into a casual sex relationship with the same expectations as your lover, it doesn’t mean your feelings won’t change. If you find yourself stalking their ex and fantasising about brunches, either talk to them or remove yourself from the casual situation. Your feelings won’t go away if you keep having sex with them.

4. Prepare to have, or be, an overnight guest.

Regular casual sex means regular excursions to other people’s bedrooms or regular visitors to your own. This means that when it comes to how to have casual sex, you have to clean your room more than you’d like to (sorry).

And don’t forget to have essentials like a toothbrush, phone charger, and money for a ride home on you at all times. You never know...

Couple holding hands in bed

5. Don’t forget to be kind.

Different people want different things from a hookup. For some arriving, dropping pants then zipping up and heading home is what they want. Others might want a conversation or a cup of tea. Even if they really do mean nothing to you, still treat them like a human being. And if you sneak out of theirs at 5 am when they’re asleep, leave them a Thank You note or drop them a text at least.

6. What is casual sex? A chance to be in charge of your pleasure.

As we’ve mentioned, this person might not know what turns you on and gets you off. You have to get good at asking for what you want, directing them, and getting into positions you know work for you (alongside making sure they’re having a good time too, of course).

7. Always be safe.

We know it’s tempting in the heat of the moment to forgo protection and lose yourself in lust, but it’s not worth the risk or anxiety afterward. Carry condoms with you (yes, even if you’re on other birth control), get regular STI checks, and regularly clean your sex toys. Safety is sexy!

Couple having sex in bed holding condom

8. If your relationship becomes regular, talk about it.

Nagged yourself a regular hookup buddy? Congrats! But also, get ready to talk. Because there are things to establish for you both to avoid confusion or hurt feelings. Firstly, talk about what you are to each other, and how often you’ll see each other. It might seem scary, but once you’re both clear you’re on the same page you can relax and enjoy yourselves.

Make sure everyone feels respected. This can mean agreeing not to talk about other people you’re seeing, or to talk openly about other relationships you’re having.

9. But don’t talk all the time - that’s what couples do.

If you’re keeping it casual, don’t text them 24/7, even if it’s fun and makes you feel nice. The fun of casual sex relationships is not being committed to anyone and having the time to devote yourself to friends, hobbies, work… Keep it that way. Because what is casual sex? Casual.

10. How to have casual sex: Stay away from romance!

Things not to do:

  • Go on dates
  • Cuddle for hours
  • Talk about your families
  • Tell them you could gaze into their eyes forever.

Things to do:

  • Meet up only to have sex
  • Talk about lighter stuff like music and kinks
  • Tell them you could spank their ass forever.
Young woman texting looking excited

11. Get good at flirting.

If you’re already a master of the chat up, skip this one. Otherwise, take note!

A big part of casual hookups is finding people you want to hookup with, and making it happen. Practice eye contact and sly smiles across the room. Get good at going up to someone hot and asking for their number. Carry business cards or paper with your number on to give to people you fancy when you’re in a rush.

How to have casual sex? Become a sexting pro. The perfect sext can get your hookup to your house in under 20 minutes.

12. Accept casual endings as sometimes part of the deal.

With the detached nature of casual hooking up comes ghosting and abrupt endings. These sorts of relationships often don’t have the same emotional discussion and navigation as committed ones. Don’t be offended by someone just fading away. Communicating is always better, but with casual hookups it doesn’t often turn out that way.

What is casual sex? A chance to enjoy yourself.

If you think casual sex is for you, then go out there and get it! There’s no better way to enjoy orgasms and connection, to meet new people, to explore toys and positions, to build your confidence, and to give your pleasure the privilege it deserves.