How-to Guides, Sexual Intimacy

How to establish boundaries in a casual relationship

how to establish boundaries in a casual relationship

Flings, booty call, friends with benefits, no strings attached. Whatever you call it, casual relationships are in. Recent studies suggest that between 60- 80% of North American college students have had some sort of casual hook-up experiences. Dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid have reported a 15% jump in subscribers since March 2020. More people are clearly looking for their wild hot summer flame that burns hot and fast. 

But, what is a casual relationship? The exact definitions may differ depending on who you ask but a casual relationship usually refers to short term, non exclusive and non serious relationships with no specific end goals other than just having a fun time. However, like most cheesy rom coms have warned us, casual relationships can be super tricky to navigate and have the potential to fail spectacularly. Someone may end up falling in love, feelings can be hurt, dramatics can ensue and unlike rom coms, there may not be a happy ending for all. One sure fire way of preventing this and improving your chances or a casual fling working out is establishing healthy boundaries. Don’t know where to start? We’ve listed down some handy tips!

Define it :

When you say casual relationship one person might hear “someone to hang around with who’s also dtf”, another might hear “strictly sex only” whereas for someone else casual relationship wouldn’t involve sex at all! With the ever changing world, the dating and relationships (or, non relationships) world keep changing as well. It’s important to Map out exactly what a casual relationship means to you, communicate that effectively with the other person(s) involved and make sure you’re on the same page!

Wants and needs:

Before getting into a casual relationship, be sure that this is what you really need in your life. Discuss your desires and expectations with each other. If there is a huge discrepancy between what you both want from the casual relationship, it’s probably best to look for someone else who can meet your demands instead of making too many compromises. In a casual relationship you get to put yourself first!


Ground rules:

people assume that simply because casual dating is, you know, casual it shouldn’t have any rules. That’s a recipe for disaster. A few examples of ground rules could be related to the medium of communication you want to stick to, honest communication, the type of sex, the length of the (non) relationship etc. 


it’s only natural to expect the dynamics of a casual relationship to change over time. Human beings are unpredictable. It’s possible that someone could end up more invested than the other or someone could change their mind about not wanting a serious relationship. What’s important is how you tackle these changes. There should be no delay in informing any changes to the other person. any decisions about what to do next should be made based on mutual agreement that prioritizes everyone’s needs.

Seek clarity:

Reevaluate where your relationship stands every now and then. Ask questions both to yourself and to each other. Has anything changed? Do you still want the same things? How many other people are you seeing? Remember, boundaries are meant to be flexible and as long as it’s mutually agreed upon you can adjust it to your preferences and comfort. 

Deal breakers:

It’s good practice to lay down some major no-no’s before you get into a casual relationship. We recommend that you watch out for:

  • Disrespect. Whether it’s the love of your life or a 3 a.m booty call, anyone who doesn’t respect who you are, your needs or your body isn’t worth your time.
  • Dishonesty. Sex is a highly vulnerable activity. A casual relationship requires just as much (if not more) honesty and trust between everyone involved since you’re choosing to get physical and possibly exchange bodily fluids with someone you might not know very well. 
  • Possessiveness. Not only is this icky in casual relationships where the whole point is to not form attachments, but it’s also a major red flag for relationships in general. If there’s feelings of jealousy, ownership and betrayal involved in your relationship then it’s not really all that casual is it?

If you wanna be my casual lover you don’t gotta get with my friends:

You simply do not bring your booty call to meet your friends at dinners and parties. Not only can this give the wrong idea to your friends and the booty in question but it can also be super confusing for you. Besides, your friends might end up seriously liking them and you might find yourself making wedding plans in your head! Friends can be influential, they don’t call it peer pressure for nothing! For casual relationships it’s best to keep business in the bedroom. Hanging out frequently in public can complicate things and make it harder when you eventually have to cut ties with the person. 

Health precautions:

Casual relationships often entail that the people involved are free to have sex with other people. This means that there are more than two bodies with sexual histories involved. You also don’t want to have a baby with your booty call. Use condoms and other barrier methods to help prevent a pregnancy or STDs. Get tested and ask everyone you’re having sex with to get tested regularly. We recommend making this one of your deal breakers! 

Mind the pillow talk:

Post sex neurotransmitters are no joke. The chemical oxytocin that is released after an orgasm has been linked to an increase in feelings of trust between people. That coupled with the feeling of relaxation after the highs of a climax can lead to some super serious post coital disclosure. In a casual relationship it’s best to keep the talk light and easy. If you find yourself engaging in deep conversations about your hopes and dreams you should probably backtrack several steps unless you want to stray into the ‘catching feelings’ territory. 

Don’t ghost:

Whether you fell in love with someone else, caught feelings for the casual lover or simply do not want to have a casual relationship anymore, end things in person or at least over a call. Simply cutting ties and disappearing can be very distressing for the other person even in a casual relationship. You don’t have to be very descriptive but laying out the reason for your decision in simple words is advisable. 

Casual dating has no hard and fast rules so with these few basic tips, a little courage and an open mind, you’re good to go! If you’re interested in more conversations around dating, sex and intimacy sign up for our newsletter and follow our Instagram.