Is Casual Sex Right For You?

Couple cuddling on bed

Let’s do some truth-telling. When you hear the words “casual sex,” what comes to mind? 

Do you think…what an ideal way to get my sexual needs met.

Or, do you think…sounds like mindless swipes on Tinder, thank u next. 

There’s a lot of stigma around casual sex, because we associate it with disposability. But when approached with an intentional, conscious mindset, casual sex can be exactly what you need to feel erotic and energized again. The key is knowing yourself – and knowing precisely what you want to get out of your casual sex experience. 

So let’s talk about all the different types of casual sex out there, how to know if it’s right for you, and how to make your encounters actually fulfilling.

Types of casual sex, and the reasoning behind them

First, know this: casual sex doesn’t automatically mean “hookup culture.” Oh sure, it could – but there are much more positive manifestations of casual sex too. Take these scenarios: 

  • You’re at a stage in your life where partnered sex is fun and fulfilling for you, but you can’t swing a committed relationship: you’ve got a demanding job, you’re taking care of a child or aging parent, etc. 
  • You’ve just broken up, but before jumping right back into a relationship, you want to explore your sexual tastes with other people.
  • You’re in an open relationship with a primary partner, but you also desire casual play partners. 
  • Your preferred relationship container is friends with benefits.
  • You want to have casual sex with people until one of those people emerges as a potential, serious partner.

As you can see, there are lots of entry points for casual sex – not to mention plenty of legitimate reasons for trying it. But should you

Pros and cons of casual sex (& how to know if it’s right for you)

Let’s examine some of the benefits of casual sex, as well as some of the downsides…because you’ll want to bring above-average self-awareness into your encounters.

On the pro side: 

  • You get to experience sex and touch with another person. That alone has the potential to release endorphins, oxytocin, and dopamine – your brain’s cocktail of happy hormones. 
  • You get to hone your skills and try out sexual activities to see what they feel like. You might even be more experimental, given the low-stakes nature of the relationship. 
  • You get to heal from a breakup! No judgment here: as long as you are open and transparent with the other person, casual sex can be a solid move for getting over an ex.
  • You get to feel sexually attractive: something most of us will never tire of.

On the con side: 

  • You’ll have increased exposure to STI’s and potential for pregnancy. Which is a bummer…but, true.
  • You could set you up for disappointment and possible heartbreak, if your casual sex partner isn’t on the same page as you regarding a relationship.
  • You could set yourself up for very unsatisfying sex, if you don’t know and haven’t communicated about what you’re looking for.
  • You could rob yourself of pleasure if you’re drunk (and let’s face it, casual sex often happens a few drinkies in). Again, no judgment, but alcohol reduces your sexual sensitivity. 

It’s not always a wise choice for your mental health to have casual sex, if you know you’re the kind of person who’s going to be glued to the phone, waiting to see if they text or call. That’s not saying your behavior is wrong – but rather, it’s wise to know yourself, and if you’re placing any unsaid expectations on the other person. 

If that “pro” list is resonating with you though, and you’re feeling like casual sex is a hell yes, let’s talk about how to find a play partner – and, how to make your playtime sexy and fun.

How to make casual sex legit amazing

The quality of our casual sex will depend on a few things: our intentions, our self-awareness, and of course, the quality of our partners. How do you go about finding one?

If you’re thinking “apps, duh” – you’re right. But be selective, because each app advertises different end goals, from hookups to marriage. My favorite for this purpose is Feeld: it’s frank about casual sex, but expect its users to be emotionally intelligent and mature. It’s not the only app for casual sex, but in 2022, it’s the first place many people start when looking for a play partner.   

Here’s what else I recommend before diving in: 

  • ID your overall goals. Is it to get over an ex? Is it to practice your sex skills? Is it to have a kinky experience with someone who shares your kink? Knowing what you want will make the whole enterprise way more efficient and enjoyable.
  • Set expectations from the jump. You want to be able to confidently say to the other person, “I am looking to have casual sex only right now.”
  • Don’t be afraid to get uber-specific on the sex stuff you like. Do you need a lots of foreplay? Lots of cuddles? A strong power dynamic?
  • On that note, be prepared to say things like: “hey! Just so you know, I’m really into foreplay. Does that work for you? If so great, if not no hard feelings.” Specific doesn’t have to be strident, if we’re clear and casual as we approach someone. 

Does all this sound incredible? Are you reading right now, thinking to yourself: “omg! Casual sex is exactly the soul medicine I’ve been looking for!” 

If so…wonderful. But I’ll be the first to admit that casual sex isn’t right for everyone. If you’ve had experiences when casual sex made you feel used, devalued, or unimportant, then stop and recognize that it may not work for you. And that is fundamentally OK.

But it can be a beautiful experience for everyone involved. So if you’re intrigued, take some time to understand what you’re looking for – and when you get out there, state your intentions loud and proud.