12 Rules For Healthy Casual Relationships Women Should Know

12 Rules For a Healthy Casual Relationship (That ALL Women Should Know)

12 Rules For a Healthy Casual Relationship (That ALL Women Should Know)

In this article you will learn:

  • The meaning of a casual relationship and what you can expect to get out of dating someone casually.
  • How to date a guy casually without getting your heart broken.
  • How long a casual relationship typically lasts and why it eventually comes to an end.
  • What casual dating means to a guy and WHY so many men want it so badly.
  • How to get him to become more than just a fling with you, if that’s what you want.

How to have a casual relationship with a guy without getting hurt

12 Rules For a Healthy Casual Relationship (That ALL Women Should Know) 1

The meaning of, or let’s say the idea of a casual relationship or a “fling” as it’s also called is really quite straightforward.

A lighthearted and fun relationship with someone without any commitment or attachment.

Benefits of a casual relationship:

There are a number of reasons why a casual relationship is just your best option sometimes

Why might someone indulge in such a relationship when they could instead go for a serious one? There are of course some reasons why most men prefer ‘just sex’ and no relationship.

But that doesn’t mean it can have it’s benefits for women as well.

Here are some other examples when it’s simply just the best choice for people in their current life situation:

  • Two people meet while traveling and only have a few weeks together before they part ways. So starting something serious would just leave them open to getting hurt.
  • A single mom who recently divorced her narcissistic husband after years in a toxic relationship and unhappiness. Now she’s living abroad and just taking it day by day, while her daughter is in her 20’s living independently and studying at the university.
  • A guy who’s been rejected by women his whole life until he finally transformed himself and is now getting more female attention than ever before. So now he wants to see what’s out there without immediately committing to the first girl that wants him.

Other times it can be a stepping stone for the commitment phobic man to put himself out there again. Even dating someone casually is a MASSIVE step up for him in a very positive direction.

I know plenty of men who stopped dating completely after being traumatised in their relationship. They simply gave up on women and now mostly watch porn instead.

You might also have something traumatic happen to you in the past that have caused you to have relationship anxiety. In that case it’s the same for you. Just dating someone casually is a step forwards and something you should be proud of doing. Then when , or if you’re ready for something serious, you take it from there…

The point of a casual relationship is to do whatever or whomever you feel like, whenever YOU feel like it. With no strings or commitments attached whatsoever. Just go with the flow and do whatever makes you happy. That’s what it automatically means to most guys also.

Many so called experts argue that you should “define” what the relationship means and “get on the same page”, or perhaps even agree to some ground rules before you even start. Well it might sound like a smart idea, but the problem with this is that it’s already sounds so damn serious and you’ve already achieved two things:

  1.  You’ve labeled yourself as very demanding and controlling before a guy even got the chance to get to know you.
  2. You successfully scared away all men who are just looking for a fun, laid back and easy going woman (which you might be but not portray yourself as)

If you go ahead and immediately come out in detail how you want your relationship to be and what exactly you’re expecting to get out of it, then guys are going to see it as massive red flag and think:

“Oh my god if she’s already setting up all of these rules before I even got to know her. I don’t want to know what it’s like to have a relationship with her”

If you are using Tinder or other online dating apps to meet guys, then here is all you need to say:

I’m just looking for something casual with no strings or commitments attached.

That’s it.

The bottom line is this.

Being in a relationship with another person is supposed to be fun and give you both a positive experience out of it. Not some contract you negotiate and agree on beforehand.

But one thing I want to make clear and distinguish right away is that there is a difference between a casual relationship and a casual relationship.

Because all relationships SHOULD start off small in a relaxed manner, by just having fun and taking it slow while you get to know each other over time. With no pressure or commitment in place, initially.

The difference then lies in the expectations and what both people are currently looking for in their current life situations.

Drawbacks of a casual relationship

Having a casual relationship with a guy does sound great, but it also comes at a cost:

  • You’re having a very shallow relationship without any depth to it.
  • You don’t have a man who’s there for you when you need it emotionally or physically.
  • It’s often based around sex and for only for temporary pleasure.
  • It’s not “real”, and you can’t plan your future together with each other.

But as I mentioned. Sometimes it’s just the best option for you in your current life situation.

In this article I’ll share my best advice and what rules you should follow to have a healthy casual relationship with a guy.

So enough of the introduction.

Here are my 12 key rules for a healthy casual relationship:

Rule #1: Keep it fun and lighthearted

Laugh at his jokes (even if he's not funny)

The most important thing for a casual relationship to work is that you keep it lighthearted, fun and leave all the serious things about a relationship out of it.

If you are having a bad day, he’s not your shoulder to cry on. And vice versa. In fact, doing so or expecting him to be there for you emotionally is definitely going to make him feel like he didn’t sign up for this. And the same is of course true the other way around.

You might be able to ask him where the best Italian restaurant is, but as far as being there for each other”, that’s pretty much it as far as it goes. Of course it depends on your situation, how close you are with each other and what you feel is appropriate.

That goes for every single one of these rules. They are rules to guide you, not laws you can’t break if one would work better a bit differently for you.

But It’s a casual relationship. You are not boyfriend and girlfriend, so don’t take it too seriously. Just keep it fun and playful.

This also a good tip for when you’re texting a guy.

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Rule #2: Respect each others boundaries

12 Rules For a Healthy Casual Relationship (That ALL Women Should Know) 2

You’re two adults living your own separate lives, with your own jobs, friends, hobbies and your own privacy. Treat it as such and then meet somewhere in the middle. Whenever it works for both of you.

It’s important that you respect each others boundaries and realise that you have other important things outside of the relationship.

So don’t show up to his house unexpected or expect him to suddenly drop everything to come over.

Respect is very important.

Rule #3: Don’t expect monogamy

12 Rules For a Healthy Casual Relationship (That ALL Women Should Know) 3

In a casual relationship you are allowed to see anyone you want. Enjoy the freedom of it and feel free to see who’s out there what feels right for you. Different guys might satisfy different kinds of needs for you.

One guy might be a god in the sack but cold as ice immediately afterwards. While another likes to cuddle more and can give the temporary satisfaction of real intimacy…

Well, you can have the best of two worlds.

That’s one beauty of a casual relationship and why so many men like it so much.

Because they can have a lot of variation with women. Or let me rephrase. Some small percentage of men can. Most can’t.

What does casual dating mean to a guy?

It depends on the guy. Allow me to explain.

In general you have two types of guys. I’ll completely disregard the ones with commitment issues in this case.

A) The man who doesn’t have a lot of options: Perhaps he’s been rejected his whole life and isn’t too popular with women. A casual relationship with any woman might be all that he can so it means everything to him. The woman who’s seeing him might also want to keep her options open for someone better so it might be her choice to only date him casually. Most guys unfortunately fall into this category. What many of them want most is to finally find a girlfriend, end the cycle of rejection and settle down.

B) The man who’s popular with women: What a casual relationship means to the small percentage of men who are popular with women is that they get to have the cake and eat it too. But here the roles are often reversed and they’re often dating multiple women at the same time. Dating a guy like that casually might be the only option a woman has. One or more of the women that he’s dating might also be hoping to have a real relationship with him at some point. (I’ll get to this later in this article.)

If you are currently seeing a player casually who very obviously sleeps around a lot… Well then here you can read how to beat him at his own game and get him to commit to you.

Because in some ways that’s also the guy you want. An attractive guy who’s wanted by many women, but is choosing to be with you. For some reason…

The good news is that eventually almost every single guy gets tired of “the game” and wants to have a deep and meaningful relationship.

Rule #4: Don’t mention the other men

He doesn't forget the special days

If you are dating other men you should not mention them at all. As far as you’re concerned, when you’re with the man you’re casually dating, other guys don’t exist. It might only make him jealous and it’s totally unnecessary.

You’d probably not want him talking about other women he’s seeing either. But of course, it depends on how jealous you both are as individuals.

The dark side of a casual relationship is that sooner or later one of you will most likely develop feelings for the other, most likely.

I know a girl who was casually seeing a guy while they were traveling together, and they had agreed that they could both see other people.

But here’s what happened:

She, being a very attractive, healthy, and social person had guys throwing themselves at her. She could basically just pick any guy and do whatever she felt like.

He, on the other hand, had a hard time finding another woman. So from that rose jealousy of the other guys she was with, neediness, and desperation to try to get back her attention.

The cool guy he used to be had now turned into a needy person who wanted something from her to feel good about himself.

Needless to say… The fun and laid-back relationship they had, had now turned into something serious with all kinds of commitments that she didn’t sign up for at all.

So she had to end it with him.

With that said, not all men are like him. Some men are just not that jealous.


Well because they have options. And losing one girl doesn’t affect them in any way because they can just find another one, just like she could. Just like players.

Rule #5: Don’t meet too often

12 Rules For a Healthy Casual Relationship (That ALL Women Should Know) 4

There are of course no exact rules for this. Do whatever feels right for you.

In the majority of casual relationships, this is about once a week. If you meet more often than that then you start to fall into “serious relationship” territory.

Sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes it’s purely random or whenever you feel like it.

Rule #6 Keep it private

12 Rules For a Healthy Casual Relationship (That ALL Women Should Know) 5

What I mean by this is that you don’t need to take any pictures while you’re together. You might only cause your friends and loved ones to ask “who your new guy is” and raise curiosity when there is nothing serious going on at all.

So keep it private. It’s none of their business anyways.

Rule #7 Don’t meet each other’s friends

Try to talk about it less

I don’t think I need to explain this any further.

Rule #8: Don’t meet each other’s family members

Woman taking time for herself

This might seem obvious to many but just to make it absolutely clear.

Since you’re only seeing each other for sex and to have fun, it would be a little weird if you sat on the couch with his mom.

Rule #9: Prepare yourself mentally that it most likely has an expiration date

Man breaks up with girlfriend

Casual relationships are temporary and not meant to last. Usually, they only last between a few weeks to 3 months.

So keep that in mind from the beginning when you enter a casual relationship with a guy.

Rule #10: Protect your feelings

Woman ending up with the wrong guy

Many women think that they can easily casually date a guy without developing any feelings whatsoever.

But I’m sorry to break it to you, that’s very often not the case.

Here is what I wrote in my friends with benefits article about this:

“Women are utterly bad at separating sex from feelings

Men can have sex with someone they find uninspiring, stupid, unattractive, and unsympathetic.

Women, unfortunately, don’t have that luxury.

And when you go to bed with a man as a woman, chances are that you will develop feelings for him.

Maybe not from the start, but sleep with him often and long enough, and it’s almost inevitable.

The oxytocin hormone released in your brain, every time you sleep with him, is just too much.

It’s unfair. I wish it was different. But it’s not.

During sex and orgasm, both men and women release Oxytocin, the famous ‘love’ or ‘cuddle’ hormone. It calms us down, relaxes us, and reduces our anxiety. It also bonds us to each other.

However, when a man has an orgasm, the main hormone released is dopamine. The pleasure hormone. This surge can be addictive for men, which is why they struggle with porn/sex addiction more often.

So the effect of oxytocin is a lot stronger for women. They tend to bond with their partners. From an evolutionary biology perspective, this makes a lot of sense. For the human species to survive; Men need to ‘spread’ their seed as much as possible.

But women need to pick the strongest man and bond with him to protect her during pregnancy and raising children. Oxytocin is the hormone that ‘helps’ women with this biological process. It causes you to bond after sex.”

There is a reason why so many women write “NO FWB” on their online dating profiles today…

Because they’re sick of getting blasted with this offer from men constantly. And being left with a broken heart and just being one of his victims.

Perhaps you’re a person who doesn’t develop feelings for a guy easily.

Still, I would never recommend you to become fwb with anyone and try to protect your heart at all costs.

Rule #11: Don’t have a casual relationship or fwb with your ex

12 Rules For a Healthy Casual Relationship (That ALL Women Should Know) 6

Just don’t do it. Especially not in hopes that it will lead you back to the way things were.

In fact, then it’s better that you check out these articles:

Rule #12: Don’t hope that your casual relationship will become serious later on

A man says he doesn't want a relationship

One thing I have noticed over and over again after coaching thousands of women is that they often agree to casually date a guy because they like him and hope that it will eventually turn into something more. Some even let themselves be used for sex by a guy.

If you’re a woman who has done this in the past, I would like to advise you to stop.

If you just started dating a guy casually but you actually want a serious relationship, then it is more effective to tell him what you’re looking for right from the start.

Maybe you did tell him that and he’s one of the a**holesvwho lead a woman on and say that “he wants to have a relationship with her, just not right now”. When he actually doesn’t have ANY intention of ever being with her. Those so-called “men” makes me sick to my stomach.

It happens that people go from a casual relationship to a real relationship, but it’s extremely rare.

There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. Once the meaning or the label or meaning of the relationship is set and agreed by both, it becomes difficult to change.
  2. You don’t get to know each other’s personalities because sex is the objective of the relationship.
  3. You deal with a fling differently than someone you’re dating. As soon as that starts to change, it usually provokes resistance from the other person. After all, you are “changing” or “ruining” the relationship all of a sudden.

But love is after all, sometimes something that just happens

Sometimes you never intended to want to have a relationship with anyone, but then you just met that one guy who gave you butterflies in your stomach and all of a sudden everything changed.

I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to go from a casual relationship to a real relationship… But it’s complicated.

With that said…

Here are some things you can try to go from a casual relationship to a serious relationship.

How to turn a casual relationship into a real relationship

12 Rules For a Healthy Casual Relationship (That ALL Women Should Know) 7

If you are currently having a fling with a guy when you actually want a real relationship with him, then it is time for some “magic”.

Every time you see him, you will have to redefine the meaning of the relationship. And when you don’t see each other, you will have to treat him differently from now on.

Take action

  • Distance yourself. Break the pattern of seeing each other once a week for sex. Make sure he now has to make an effort to see you.
  • Invite him to do something fun together FIRST that makes it difficult to have sex with each other.
  • Don’t be tempted to “watch a movie” on a Tuesday night at 11 p.m.
  • Try going on a date. Keep it light, but make sure the majority of your activities take place outside the bedroom.

But the thing is… When you’re trying to change the meaning of the relationship when it has been a certain way… Then there is a great chance that he won’t go along with it and straight out tell you that he doesn’t want a relationship.

Don’t think guys are stupid when it comes to this either. Most men notice the slightest change in the relationship and will instantly pull away, or lose interest if he doesn’t like her enough. (Or as many people like to do nowadays. Just ignore or ghost her until she eventually gets the point.)

A friend of mine recently had a casual relationship with a girl. Every time they met she came straight to his place. But after 3-4 times of doing that she subtly invited him to dinner.

“I know you love Mexican food so I thought we could go here”

“Mhm…Sure…” He thought.

And she did want more with him… even though he was leaving that city in a few weeks to move to the other side of the world.

Needless to say. It didn’t work out between them.

With that said, you have to at least try and see what happens.

You’d have to make very slow and subtle changes to the relationship and hope that he reacts positively to them. If he doesn’t… Well then there is not much you can do. Dump him and move on.

But here are other relevant articles that you might want to check out:

Well now you know how to have a healthy casual relationship with a guy

Always do whatever feels right for you and that makes you happy. And don’t put too many boundaries on it.

Life is supposed to be fun and enjoyable.



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Tim Veninga is a dating coach, relationship coach and social psychology bestseller author from the Netherlands.  He has been featured in media like Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Marie Claire & Elle.

Hi, I’m Tim Veninga. Since 2008 I’ve been coaching men and women to archieve succes and happiness in their love lives.

For years I’ve only been writing in Dutch, but in 2019 I started writing in English as well after many women asked for it.

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