Casual sex can wind up being anything but casual. When done properly, though, it can be a whole lot of fun. It can also have a great impact one’s self-esteem, mental well-being, and physical health. If you’ve ever had a commitment free kind of relationship, then you’re probably aware of all of the great benefits, but in the end, it does not always go as anticipated.

This is because everyone has different rules when it comes to having a casual affair. For some, this could mean a one-night only, “devil may care” fling with a sexy stranger while others may consider it an occasional interlude with a “special” companion. Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or taking part in some stamina training, each situation is unique.

For many, the no-strings-attached relationship is the safe, cooperative exchange of sex between consenting couples and is usually done without the trapping of emotions and expectations. But if you’re not prepared for the realities of this special type of arrangement, you may end up a little worse for wear. So, to assist you in navigating this [sometimes] complicated path, we’ve come up with a few of our own helpful guidelines.

Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed

Great, you’ve just met someone that excites you and can’t wait to see them naked! Oh, but wait—this could wind up being someone you want to see again. Before opening the door that leads to sex, it’s important, to first, open your mouth. To have a satisfying experience, this is not the time to feel shy about expressing your clear and concise expectations and boundaries. Establishing ground rules first, not only prevents misunderstandings but paves a positive path toward pleasurable fun and excitement. Before you make any moves toward satisfying those sexual cravings, it’s important to ask questions that are important to you like: ‘My place or yours?’ ‘How often do you want to do this?’ ‘Where’s your off-limit zones?’ ‘Are you cool with me seeing other people?’ ‘Can we use toys?’ ‘How do you want to handle protection?’ Whatever happens after the Q&A portion may prove to be entertaining, satisfying, and, well, really hot.

Do Onto Others

Free-range sex is about having a fun, friendly and playful experience. It’s called friends with benefits for a reason. However, just because it’s a non-committed situation, does not mean it’s okay to treat [or be treated] like an emotionless sex doll. To keep your fling on a positive upswing, respect each other’s time, efforts and needs. This means no excessive breaking of plans, going M.I.A., or disregarding their feelings. Remember, you’re having physical contact with this person, which means there is some level of intimacy.

Mind Your P’s & Q’s

One of the perks of a casual relationship is privacy, which requires a delicate balance of “need to know” and “nice to know” information. To eliminate the risk of revealing too much, which often results in a deeper emotional bond, you’ll want to keep things light and fun. When arriving for your encounter, check your emotions at the door. Had a bad day at work, then talk to a friend. By strictly focusing on what lies ahead with your lover, you’ll be able to get lost in the fantasy of giving and getting physical pleasure—and leave the world behind (for at least a while).

Be Yourself—with a Twist

In the movie, Wedding Crashers, the lead characters made up amazing back-stories, just so they can get laid. From weddings to receptions, they reinvented themselves as baseball players, war veterans, and owners of a maple syrup conglomerate. Since casual sex is usually short-term deal, this is pretty tempting, but that dishonesty can come back to bite you in the butt. Be yourself, but with a slight twist. There’s no harm in reinventing yourself as a better version of you, and maybe omitting or obscuring a few facts about yourself, like your daytime gig. This harmless form of roleplay can heighten the experience by allowing you to let go of inhibitions. Just be sure you don’t take it too far that it misleads the other person. Their reaction to you will be based on who they think you are as much as what you can do for them. If they believe they are shagging the President of Uruguay, it could end in some emotional attachments that distract from the fun.

Expiration Dating

No matter how it plays out, casual sex is just one of those things that has a shelf life. In other words, the moment you start having a casual affair, is quite possibly, the beginning of the end. In time, the sex may get boring, or someone finds a different love interest or the emotional dynamics shift. With so many variables in the casual equation, things will change. And when they do, be prepared to speak up. When things get “weird,” be honest and honor your agreements. No need to pull a Houdini, and poof, disappear! Unless you’re a sadomasochist, no one enjoys an emotional breakup, and since there were no expectations to begin with, disembark from the relationship with grace and respect.

All casual relationships are structured differently and are based on your needs for that period of time. Just keep in mind that since these kinds of arrangements fall short of having a real relationship—everything will work in your favor. Remember, however, that the person you choose to have fun with is not disposable. In fact, they are a return customer looking for an even exchange, and therefore, should be treated with respect.

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