Casual relationships are kind of the norm these days, and if you’re single and dating it’s likely you’ve experienced a few.

They can be fun as hell, but they can also be the source of every goddamn insecurity, irritation, terrible day and anxiety-fuelled group chat psych session.

The reason casual relationships can go to shit so easily and turn into a headache rather than a fun and sexy fling comes down to rules. You need rules to make one work, and as someone who has tried navigating several casual relationships, I feel like I’ve learned (usually the hard way bc I am a clown) what these rules inherently are.

1. No One Should Be Lying To Themselves

First rule of casual relationships – absolutely do not lie to yourself. If you want a proper dating relationship with this person, you need to be upfront about that and NO, casual things do not turn into dating things most of the time. Remember He’s Just Not Into You, and then at the end the unhinged lady ends up with the douchey guy bc “she’s the exception”. NO! NOT REAL! LIES!

Yes yes, sometimes there are stories of casual flings turning serious but those situations almost always involve BOTH parties going into it with a casual mindset, then BOTH realising there’s more to it. Not one person being deeply in love with the other but saying they’re down for casual because it’s all they can get.

Don’t lie to yourself – if you like them on a deeper level, don’t get into something casual because you’ll end up crying all the time in the toot, and that’s not a vibe.

2. Be Clear About What You Need

What does “casual relationship” mean to you? For some, it’s hooking up at 2am when you’re both drunk sometimes. For others, it’s all the benefits of a real relationship (hanging out, spooning, bitching about work) without the pressure of it being real.

You need to figure out what you need from your casual relationship before you get it underway, otherwise it just puts you through the ringer. For example, I was once in a casual thing where I kinda expected to see the person like, a couple of times a week for hook ups and hang outs. But instead the person just hit me up on occasional Saturday nights for sex. Fine if that’s what I wanted but it wasn’t.

Once you know what you want, either go with the flow but bail out if the other party seems to have different ideas, or bring up what’s bothering you. Wanna hang out not just fuck? Say so. Wanna just fuck and never hang out? Say so. Communication is key here!

3. If You Catch Feelings, Bring It Up

Never ever ever ever ever keep rolling with a casual relationship if you catch real feelings! At least, if this happens, bring it up and put the option of dating on the table. If the other party is like aw, no thanks beb – bail out!

I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve kept sleeping with someone who sees me as just a mate they bone, when I see them as the love of my life. Pisces energy up here baby, but it’s BAD! Like I said, these things rarely turn serious and they especially won’t if the other party already told you yeah, nah.

I know it’s easier said than done but if the feelings become one-sided, you’ll be much better off if you just cut it.

4. There’s No Room For Jealousy In Casual Relationships

Sorry, but a casual relationship has NO room for being pissy because you see the other person flirting at a party. If you’re feeling miffed by their display of interest in another human being, ask yourself if it’s because you like them for real, then scroll back up to #3.

Sometimes we feel jealous because we just want exclusivity in our casual relationship. That can be ok, if both parties agree to it. I’ve been in casual things where it’s also exclusive, but I have also found that the REASON I wanted to be exclusive was… because I actually liked the guy. So.

5. Don’t Start Divulging Your Traumas & So On

Casual relationships are NOT the same as proper dating ones. That means top line! Look, this isn’t a hard and fast rule because some casual flings are between friends, or whatever. But in my experience as soon as I start revealing all my life problems to my fuck buddy, I start falling for them.

In general, you want this thing to be a mutual “using” thing – you’re both using each other for sex/companionship, nothing more. Keep your deep dives on your abandonment issues for your best mates and psychologist – advice I could have used like two years ago tbh.

6. Don’t Be A Piece Of Shit

Being casual doesn’t mean you get to not respect the other person – they are a human being and just because you’ve both decided not to officially date, doesn’t mean respect isn’t deserved.

This means – don’t talk about other people you’re hooking up with, don’t criticise their body or sexual prowess unless asked (and even then, be NICE about it), don’t organise a casual hang at 8pm and then get caught up at drinks with your girls and leave them hanging.

Most of all, if you want to end the casual fling – be honest and tell them instead of just yeeting out of there and never responding to a text again. V. rude, do not condone.

Image: The Bold Type