Rules of Casual Relationships

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Julie Zantopoulos

When not acting as Vice President and Senior Editor at The Indie Chicks, Jewels is a writer at heart and most likely writing for her own website According to Jewels or working on her first novel.In her free time she loves heading to concerts, taking road trips, reading, and doing anything crafty. Don't hesitate to reach out...she loves chatting with our readers.

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A lot more women are taking control of their love lives because not everyone has the time or energy required to maintain a relationship. I am among those women. I’ve had my share of casual romantic relationships in my time and they’ve not all ended well. I know I’m not alone. Though most of us have been left to navigate the “friends with benefits” waters, there are still certain rules of casual relationships that should be followed to avoid disaster. If you’ve ever had a casual relationship,  then you know it’s not always smooth sailing.

Rules of Casual Relationships

Each casual relationship comes with its own set of “rules” or guidelines. Every two people enter into different agreements. Some like to hang out without sex being involved, others meet solely to satisfy sexual cravings. Some people are actually friends between serious significant others while other people are strangers who share mutual attraction but aren’t right for one another. Each situation is unique, but there are a few things that should apply to EVERY casual romantic encounter.


The FwB (friends with benefits) arrangement is attractive to a lot of people who just don’t have the time to dedicate to a full time relationship. You may be busy starting a new business, going to school, or just don’t want to be tied down. No matter the reason, you don’t want the full time obligations of a boyfriend/girlfriend. You get to have physical needs met and not be hounded. You don’t have to go to work functions, family vacations, or do household chores. You don’t have to justify staying in to work, going out with the guys/girls, golfing for an entire day, or just wanting a night in pajamas with some brownies.

For those who easily feel smothered, have commitment issues, or have other time consuming obligations these arrangements are great. Actively dating takes time, energy, and effort, and we just don’t always have that to spare. Let’s not mistake freedom for being rude and not caring about the other party involved, though.

Common Courtesy

The freedom of casual relationships does not mean that the other party is totally disregarded. Remember it’s called friends with benefits for a reason. Don’t forget they are a friend and as such deserve to be treated nicely. This means there should be no excessive breaking of plans, going radio silent, or putting the other person down.

Communication is key in these relationships. Determine your boundaries and be clear about your expectations. Too busy to meet up? Say so. Swamped at work but hoping to blow off some steam on your lunch break? Can’t hurt to ask. Just remember that you aren’t “owed” anything and that they aren’t just a booty call. You don’t have to hang out outside the bedroom but they do deserve your respect.


Just because this is a casual arrangement doesn’t mean it is okay to be treated (or treat others) like an emotionless sex robot. Neither party lives in a bubble, staying available, shaved, and oiled and at your sexual beckoning. Have the decency to respect their time, their needs, and yes, their feelings too. It may not be a relationship, but that only gets you out of putting up with Aunt Beatrice’s 80th birthday party and work BBQ’s.

They are doing you the solid of penetrating you/allowing themselves to be penetrated, so give them the respect they deserve. Not being a love match doesn’t mean that you get to act like a cold and distant asshole. I’m not saying buy chocolates and flowers but let’s not act like they don’t matter at all. This is one of my steadfast rules of casual relationships: it should be a friendly and fun arrangement.

The Expiration Date

Recognize that all arrangements of this nature have a shelf life. No FwB lasts forever. One, or both, of you will realize you want something different, fall for somebody else, or just tire of each other. This is a Band-Aid, NOT a permanent solution to your relationship needs. Nobody stays with a casual sex buddy forever. Know that before you enter and keep any thoughts of love out of the “relationship”.

Warning: When the time comes and the arrangement runs its course you can “try” to be friends but know it likely won’t work. The next time you drink after a break up, or when you’re both single and need an itch scratched, you will sleep together again.

Like I said, all casual relationships are different, all are structured differently, but there are basic truths to all relationships of this nature. Acknowledge where the arrangement falls short of a real relationship and things will work a lot better. Remember that this isn’t a one night stand booty call, this is a return customer.  Treat them with respect.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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  • Beverly

    Excellent article. Words to live by.

  • Courtney Renfro

    I love this article. I am glad, you adressed it. Casual realtionships are great. You get to have more freedom. For me, I need my freedom. I have always been like that. I agree with you. You should treat each other with respect. Sometimes, you don’t want to be tied down. You should have fun and pratice safe sex.
    Great article! :)

    • Jewels

      I’m a fan of them myself but there are certain trends that I saw…men thinking they didn’t have to extend common courtesy, etc. I wanted to address that even though it’s casual that doesn’t mean rude. So happy you agree.

  • Suzanne Casamento

    You nailed it. The key word is “friend.” If the other person is not treating you with courtesy and respect, the benefits are not worth it. NEXT! ;)

    • Jewels

      Glad we are on the same page here. WAY too often I’ve seen people with total disregard for the people they are sleeping with and using the excuse “well, it’s casual”. That does NOT mean you are rude to them. Thanks for the comment, Suzanne.

    • Randy

      Agreed! I still believe that relationship should always start with being friends. If one doesn’t respect then why would you bother being with him/her on the first place.

      • Jewels


        Thanks for reading and chiming in. Respect is key, I agree!

  • Veronica

    I swear, Jewels! I fall in deeper love with every article. This is all so true. I love the way you broke this down.

  • Himanshu

    hey, I loved this article but what I wanna share is I’ve been in such agreement and the girl I’ve been with still want to be with me. We both are in the seperate relationships though…sumtimes she calls me up just to say how badly she misses those hangout and ol. I too feel attached sometimes.

  • Dea

    Great article!
    I am in a casual relationship w a guy after separation. And i wanted such arrangement because i m not ready to commit also. But because I hv always been in pretty serious ‘normal’ relationship. This is something new to me, I struggle sometimes to remind myself not to put too much emotions into. We enjoy a very close relationship so far. And we couple stuff together and for each other.
    How do I learn to be not too emotionally involved so that I won’t get hurt eventually.
    Any tips.

    • Jewels


      Learning to not be emotionally involved is hard. It took me a really long time to separate physical intimacy from emotions and frankly I’m not thrilled that I “taught” myself that. It’s not something that I’m proud of. You either care about him or it’s just sex…but if it’s not just physical then there’s likely no turning off those emotions.

      For me the best reminder was if the guy was absolute crap at “relationshippy” stuff. I’d just remind myself that even if I cared for him and enjoyed being with him he’d be crap at a relationship and I’d end up breaking up with him anyway.

      Sounds like you’re already in a pretty “relationshippy” place with this guy though. You’re walking a fine line here…careful love.

  • BruisedbutnotBroken

    I made the mistake of agreeing to a casual relationship and in hindsight it was one if the worst decisions I’ve ever made. It was totally on his terms and although he was sometimes dismissive and rude, the sex was phenomenal and I kept coming back for more (pun intended). It has been over 2 months since our last hook up, as he stopped responding to texts and wouldn’t take my calls and did everything possible to avoid me at work. This has been especially hurtful because I thought he would’ve at least handled it like a grown up instead if being a total asshole. I feel so stupid for believing him when he said that he really liked me, and cared about me, because I would never treat someone I cared for so badly. I found out he’s seeing someone else, which I kinda suspected, so I’m left with the resentment and pain that comes with being used and played for a fool.

    • Jewels

      BruisedbutnotBroken…first great name. Sadly you aren’t the only woman who was woed into something that didn’t truly work for them emotionally because of a sweet talking guy and the thought that they could handle the fall out afterwards. Sometimes living is learning even when the lesson sucks. Of all the life lessons though, at least this one came with great sex.

      I hope that you are able to move past this and remember that not all guys are total tools but sometimes we have to screw a dirtbag to appreciate the great ones.

    • Jenny

      Get over this asshole. Such a person doesn’t deserve a single minute of you anymore. But hey, at least you had some amazing sex. Keep that in your sweet memory and move on.

  • Jo-Anne

    Ok I may not be in a casual relationship but I do so get this, it was a great article

    • Julie Zantopoulos

      Thank you, Jo-Anne. It’s pretty decent advice but I’m happy you found your love and don’t need it anymore.

  • Confused

    I meet someone and he dont want a relationship. So we agreed on the casual sex. We keep in touch by texting every other day. At first i wanted to be in a relationship with him and was a little sad when we came to this agreement. Everything is going good we see each other when we can and the sex is great. In a causual sex relationship is it fair for him to ask me not to sleep with no one else but him..

    • Julie Zantopoulos

      Every casual relationship is different, but yes, in some there is the understanding that sex with others won’t occur. In the end it’s your call to either accept or reject his request. If you don’t want to be exclusively sexual with him, then tell him you’re not comfortable with that. The joy of a casual relationship is that you don’t HAVE to do shit you don’t want to do. The decision is yours. If you feel that sexual monogamy comes with a “girlfriend” title then tell him. The power is in your hands, girl.

  • Jewels

    BruisedbutnotBroken…first great name. Sadly you aren’t the only woman who was woed into something that didn’t truly work for them emotionally because of a sweet talking guy and the thought that they could handle the fall out afterwards. Sometimes living is learning even when the lesson sucks. Of all the life lessons though, at least this one came with great sex.

    I hope that you are able to move past this and remember that not all guys are total tools but sometimes we have to screw a dirtbag to appreciate the great ones.