How to Do Casual Sex Right

From someone who’s had it all wrong

Emma Austin
Jan 19 · 10 min read

I’ve had a fair amount of casual sex in my life. Most of it was somewhere between bad and terrible.

I’ve had casual sex I didn’t realize was casual because the guys I slept with were playing with my feelings.

I’ve had casual sex with guys who cared so little about me that the whole experience left me feeling used.

I’ve had one memorable time with a stranger on a train. We connected quickly but deeply. Neither of us pretended it was anything more than a one-night stand and it felt amazing.

There was also the time with a friend who wanted to lose his virginity and I agreed to be his first. It wasn’t super romantic or sexually satisfying, but there was something almost sweet about it.

Those were the exceptions. The rest of my casual sex experiences were complete let downs. I know what was missing from them — I just never got it.

Now that casual sex seems to be so much more common, it seems people are having less of the kind of sex I had on that train and more of the kind I had in dark bedrooms at parties. It seems like every woman I meet has her fuckboy stories and I’m willing to bet a lot of the guys aren’t getting the kind of experience they hoped for, either.

I’m not bummed out that people are having more casual sex — not at all — but I can’t help but wish more people were doing it better and getting more out of it. As long as it’s done well, it can be great, fulfilling, fun, and memorable.

If you want better casual sex, here are some ways to make it happen.

Choose Wisely

Your first big, important decision when it comes to casual sex is who you have it with.

Casual sex doesn’t usually last all that long, even if you’re friends with benefits. So, think carefully about what will happen afterward. Will you have to see them all the time? Will things get weird? Will this complicate your life after the sex is over?

Coworkers are usually a bad choice because of this. It can make things hella awkward at the office or at work-related functions.

People in your close-knit friends group are also usually a bad choice, because it can create tension not just between the two of you, but with your friends as well.

And don’t go into casual sex unless you have casual feelings. You can convince yourself that it’s a good idea to have casual sex with someone you really like because it might lead to more. But it’s way more likely to lead to heartbreak.

Be Honest (With Your Words and Your Actions)

Be honest about what you want out of your encounter.

That one should be simple and obvious, but it’s actually quite tricky. That’s because it’s a standard fuckboy move to be honest verbally and then set intentions quietly.

They’ll go into it saying it’s just casual, it’s just a fling, or it’s just meaningless sex. Then, they’ll do things that imply they have feelings and that it’s more than just sex.

You’ll get those heart eyes emojis and hear them say things like “I can’t stop thinking about you.” They’ll call you pet names and have conversations that make it feel like things between you are getting deep.

It’s a sham. They’re basically doing things to build intimacy quickly, but they’re doing it in a way that’s vague enough that you’re left filling some of the gaps yourself. They’ll make it seem like they do have feelings for you but they’re just guarded or aren’t ready to say it out loud.

It’s designed to make you open up quickly and put out sooner.

And then they pull away. And you wonder what the hell happened. Things seemed to be going so well and now they’re just cold. What happened to the relationship that was building, to all that intimacy?

If you confront him about it, he’ll tell you that he never said you were anything more than just a casual hookup.

That shit’s not cool. It’s dishonest and manipulative because it’s pretending your actions don’t communicate anything. It also violates informed consent — if she’s fucking you because she thinks you’re starting a relationship, she’s not actually agreeing to the casual sex you’re roping her into.

I love the simple way Shallon Lester breaks this down. She says that a woman is either a friend, a fuck friend, or a girlfriend. The problem happens when you categorize her in one way and then treat her differently. When you decide that she’s just a fuck friend but you treat her like a girlfriend, that’s sending mixed messages.

It’s true that sometimes men and women catch feelings when they fuck someone casually. But often, what really happens is that they’re not being categorized the right way. It sends them mixed messages and feelings get hurt.

So, categorize the person you’re fucking properly. If they’re just a hookup, treat them like one. If they’re just a fuck friend, then fuck and be friendly. But don’t ever act like you’ve got different feelings than the ones you really have.

Be Lusty but Not Romantic

Again, this is all about honest communication. You don’t have to take the connection and passion out of it just because you can’t get romantic.

Convey your lust and desire, not your love (unless you genuinely feel that way).

Keep your flirty banter on the dirty side. You can be sweet, but don’t treat your hookup like your sweetheart.

Think flames and winks, not hearts and flowers.

Go Over Your Boundaries and Needs

There’s an image a lot of people have of casual sex. It’s almost like a wordless hookup. You just start biting your lip, staring into their eyes, and then before you know it you’re fucking with reckless abandon.

That’s usually a bit of a fantasy. More often than not, casual sex involves you going over some stuff. There’s some kind of discussion, even a brief one, about what this is, what everyone needs, and what everyone wants.

Personally, I can’t get it up for people who are so casual they want to weave in and out of my life. I lose my attraction for them when they don’t seem invested at all. At the very least, I want to be friends with benefits and the friends part isn’t optional.

That takes some clear communication. In my experience, a lot of men say they want to be friends with benefits but what they really mean is they just want to fuck whenever they feel like it. They want the benefits but none of the effort or minimal commitment involved in treating me like a human, let alone a friend.

That doesn’t work for me, but for some people that’s exactly the kind of emotional distance they want. You just need to hash it out clearly and explicitly to make sure everyone is on the same page.

That means inside and outside of sex, too. Do you just want to meet up for sex and nothing more? If so, how frequently (ballpark numbers, anyway)? Will you keep in touch in between or is every text just going to be a booty call? Is sexting okay or will it intrude in the other’s personal life? Are you comfortable hearing about each other’s sex lives or do you prefer a don’t ask, don’t tell policy about the other people you’re dating or sleeping with? Are there some things that happen between your sexual encounters that would make you feel used or devalued?

If you work through these things, you’ll have better sex, less heartache, and a lot less weirdness.

Be Respectful

You’re just in this for sex, but it doesn’t mean you can treat the person you’re fucking like an object.

You’re hooking up with a flesh and blood person with thoughts and feelings and you need to respect those.

If you’re being rude, disregarding their needs, or being completely cold and careless, what you’re really looking for is a sex doll, not a hookup.

Be Safe

This one’s simple but essential.

Get tested and use condoms. There’s really no excuse not to.

If you’re allergic to latex, carry polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms.

If you don’t enjoy sex without a condom, stay home and masturbate until you find yourself in a long-term relationship.

I’m all for the pull-out method, but it only reduces your risk of pregnancy, not STIs.

And even if you’re willing to take the risk, it’s not fair to impose that risk on your hookup.

Focus on Her Pleasure

If this is a hetero hookup, the focus should be on the woman’s pleasure.

You’ve probably heard about the orgasm gap. Well, it’s even wider in casual sex.

That’s a problem. Sex should never be one-sided, even if it you’re just in it to rub bodies for a while.

There’s a simple fix to this: actually trying.

Almost no women are anorgasmic. If someone puts in a real decent effort, they will almost always be able to make a woman come.

So, use that tongue and those fingers. If you’re at her place and she has sex toys, encourage her to use them while you fuck or fool around (if she wants to, of course). Or better yet, ask her about her favorite ways to come and give her what she needs.

She might still not have an orgasm. But if you do your best to get her there, you’ll give her lots of pleasure and a very good time.

You will get yours. Just make sure she gets hers, too.

Be Present

One of the best things about casual sex is having someone really lust after you. But you can’t feel that passion or desire if they’re not fully in the moment.

Don’t text other people while you’re together. Give them your time and your focused attention. Make them feel like they’re your priority at that point in time.

Though again, remember to do it through lust, not fake displays of love. Flip her over, spank her, and tell her that her ass drives you wild — don’t tell her you could see yourself spanking her ass for the rest of your life unless you’re really offering a long-term, spank-filled relationship.

Be Seductive

Even if someone agrees to hook up, don’t expect to just come over and drop your pants to your ankles as soon as the door shuts.

Lots of people — and probably most women — will want to at least be seduced a little. They’ll want there to be some buildup, some flirting, or at least a gropey makeout session before jumping in the sack.

Personally, my arousal is responsive. I don’t just jump into sex — I need someone to turn me on first. It takes a lot more than a “u up?” text to get into it, even if I am down to fuck.

Practice Aftercare

The seduction that happens before casual sex can make a big difference, but so can the things that happen afterward.

Unless it’s what you all agreed upon, don’t expect to just hit it and quit it. When you’re done getting off, do something to ease out of the sexy stuff. Don’t just grab your clothes and slip out the door before they’ve even had a chance to catch their breath.

Talk, hang out, maybe even give a little physical affection. You don’t have to stay the night, you don’t even have to stay an hour, but you shouldn’t just bolt.

I’ve had some casual stuff that was good in the moment but didn’t feel great afterward because the guy I fucked just barely said anything and ditched. I’ve also had sexual encounters completely ruined because the guy was a dick afterward.

Good casual sex involves a connection. But it also means dissolving that connection once its done. That can be a little rough, so just make sure you sever it gently.

Check In Occasionally

If you’re having something longer than a one-night stand, check in once in a while to make sure the arrangement is still working for everyone.

It’s easy to get into a situation where you feel a bit trapped. Maybe you catch feelings for the other person and you don’t want to pull back and lose what you’ve got going, but you’re also not sure you want to keep it up unless it’s going to become more.

Maybe you kind of lose interest in them or in the hookup but you don’t want to end it abruptly and hurt their feelings.

Or you could just want to have different kinds of sex. Maybe you’re opening up to doing anal now that you trust them more or you wish there was more foreplay.

Checking in lets you make sure you’re both still on the same page and getting what you want from it. And if you’re not, it gives you an opportunity to see if there’s a way to make things better.

Be Honest with Yourself

Take a good, hard look at your feelings and trust them. If you feel like you’re being used, you probably are. And even if you’re not, you have a right to put a stop to any casual sex that is not mutually beneficial.

Casual sex is supposed to be fun. If it isn’t, put an end to it and find an arrangement (or a person) that’s better suited for you.

Get the Sex That Works for You

This guide was a little personal. A lot of what is in here is based on what I want or need out of casual sex.

I realize that not everyone will want an emotional connection. Some people might just want the drop-in and drop-your-pants approach.

If you want something purely physical, that’s fine. But it’s good to enter these situations with lots of clear expectations. Make sure you’re not getting involved with someone who wants more than you’re willing to give — or who isn’t willing to give you as much as you need.

The worst thing about casual sex isn’t that it’s casual (that part can be great). The worst part is when there’s regret. So be honest, be giving, and be clear about your needs. If you do, the only thing you’ll regret is not doing it more often.

Love, Emma

Articles about sex, love, and relationships by Emma Austin

Emma Austin

Written by

I write about sex, love and everything else that matters to me. Links to my podcast, social media, blog, and Patreon page: https://linktr.ee/EmmaAustin

Love, Emma

Articles about sex, love, and relationships by Emma Austin

Emma Austin

Written by

I write about sex, love and everything else that matters to me. Links to my podcast, social media, blog, and Patreon page: https://linktr.ee/EmmaAustin

Love, Emma

Articles about sex, love, and relationships by Emma Austin

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