Casual sex is defined differently for different people, but it generally means no expectation of exclusivity and no strings attached. There is even a term for this form of relationship known as Ethical Non-Monogamy of ENM. This may imply sex with someone you know or a quick one night stand, but for this article casual sex is defined as consensual sex outside a marriage or romantic relationship.
Sex can be a powerful experience that creates emotional responses that are unexpected. So what can be done if a casual sex relationship begins to feel like more? The answer is not straightforward, even though we may hope otherwise. While sex without strings attached can be fun, it can also be extremely complicated. If you do develop feelings, do not beat yourself up. Women are biologically wired to feel some attachment to their partners, so catching feelings is not unexpected. The bonding hormone oxytocin allows us to feel some attachment to your sexual partner and the more you see each other, the stronger this bond grows. This is why it is so important to make sure you are on the same page from the start. This is especially important if it is sex with an ex or friends with benefits type thing. Both sides should discuss expectations up front. Make sure you can both separate physical closeness from emotional closeness and decide whether you are open to a relationship later on. If only one person is open then make a plan or forget about a no strings relationship all together.
Perhaps you have done all this and agreed a no strings attached relationship is fine, but you now have feelings. Is it fair to hold this information back from your partner and continue on or should you admit the truth and hope they feel the same? Honesty is the key in all relationships, but especially in an ENM one. Holding back that you are having feelings can be bad for your emotional and mental health. If you find yourself having serious feelings, take a few steps back and talk to them with phrases like, “You should know I’m really starting to like you, so we need to slow things down.” This demonstrates your feelings and allows them to share as well without the pressure.
Taking Things Further
If you are considering taking things to the next level and into possible relationship territory, there are a few things to consider.
- Mutual Interests – Focus on their words and actions. Do you share common interests other than bedroom activities? Does the other person talk to you during the day or just at night for a booty call? Base your decision to take things deeper on the answers.
- Plan a Day Out – If you are trying to decide if the other person is truly relationship material, then plan a day out together. Keep things semi-casual, but also an activity that is date-like such as a party, a museum, or a movie. Try an activity in the real world and outside the bedroom.
- Express Yourself – If you suspect your partner is having feelings as well, open up and tell them how you feel. Keep it low key so you can continue to talk freely because ultimatums will backfire.
Remember that no relationship is one size fits all. Whether you are in a no strings attached relationship or one where you are joined at the hip, be true to your needs and yourself. Sex, love, and relationships mean different things to different people, so figure out what works for both of you. As long as communication stays open and clear, then that is enough.