Movies make it seem like the easiest thing in the world to head out to your local bar and meet a hot, funny stranger who’s great in bed.
Anyone who’s tried to have casual sex in the real world knows that isn’t true.
Trying to find the perfect casual sex partner can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack—they need to be attractive, good in bed, live relatively locally, and have a schedule that roughly matches up with mine? In this economy?
Fortunately, we’re here with some tips to help you improve your search for commitment-free sex.
Goodbye fruitless longing for no-strings-attached nookie, and hello brand-new bedroom partner!
Choose your location wisely
Online dating apps are the obvious choice for people interested in having casual sex these days.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with meeting people online—in fact, we’re all for it.
There are dating apps for every quirk, kink, and crush out there: straight dating apps, queer dating apps, dating apps for threesomes, dating apps for celebrities, and dating apps for people who like bacon (no, really).
There are also websites like FetLife, which is billed as a social networking website for people in the kink community but is also a great way to meet someone who’s interested in your particular type of kink.
From spanking to tickling, there are community groups there for everyone.
If you’re someone who enjoys meeting people in person instead of online, you have plenty of options, although we urge you to only try to pick people up in places where people are likely to want to be picked up.
This means your work is out, because it’s not so professional to proposition your co-workers, and it also means other people’s work is out—you generally shouldn’t try to chat someone up when they’re at their job.
Social settings are best, because people are opting-in to being there: parties, hobby groups, pubs, nightclubs, concerts, book clubs, art galleries, and even fitness classes can be fine places to meet people.
However, normal etiquette rules apply: if you ask someone out, do it politely, discreetly, and don’t do it more than once.
If they say no, accept their answer and don’t push it, and definitely don’t ask them out by propositioning them for sex.
“Would you like to get a coffee this weekend—as a date?” is fine, but “How about a blowjob?” is not.
Be honest about your expectations
It’s totally fine that you’re only looking for a one-night fling or a hook-up. But if you get the impression that your date might be wanting something more than that, you shouldn’t lead them on.
Be honest. Lying about your intentions or intentionally misleading someone makes you a jerk, and you don’t want to be that person.
If you’re using a dating app, it’s easy to add something like ‘not looking for anything serious’ into your profile, but in the real world, it’s a bit trickier.
“I want to be honest about this before we go any further—I’m not looking for any serious commitments right now, but I’m really enjoying spending time with you” is fine, but don’t wait until after sex to say it. That’s deceptive.
Don’t forget about consent
Of course, no sex can happen without consent. Sex without consent is rape.
Whether you’re in a serious relationship or having a one-nighter, consent is key.
Remember that consent is an ongoing conversation, not a once-off agreement, and it can be withdrawn at any time.
It’s also not possible to give informed, enthusiastic consent if you’re very drunk, high, sleeping, semi-conscious, or unconscious—so keep that in mind if you’re chatting someone up at a bar, nightclub, or anywhere else where drinks (and other substances) are flowing freely.
If you’re planning on having sex, it’s worth getting your space set up to receive visitors (in fact, we’ve written an entire article about this).
Put some clean sheets on your bed, fluff your pillows, vacuum the floor, and stock up on whatever your preferred form of contraception is.
If you want to go the extra mile and really make your date feel comfortable, you could have a clean t-shirt handy for them to sleep in or a spare, unused toothbrush in the bathroom that they can use.
Show them where your bathroom and shower is, and offer them a glass of water or a cup of tea. Just because you’re not dating this person doesn’t mean you don’t have to be a good host, y’know?
Keep it casual, but remember to care
One of the best things about having casual sex is that you’re not in a relationship with the person.
You don’t need to build Ikea furniture together, you don’t have to drive their brother to the airport, and you don’t have to put up with that particularly annoying way they chew their food (seriously, why do they do that?).
Disengage yourself from the notion that this is a person who needs to take up a large portion of your brain-space: the beauty of casual relationships is that is that you might only see each other once a month or so, and you don’t have to be particularly invested in this person’s life between dates.
However, that doesn’t mean you have the right to be dismissive of them.
They’re still a human being and they deserve your care and compassion for the time you spend together—but as you’re not building a serious relationship together, you can limit yourself with regards to how committed you get.
Asking them how their day at work was is good, but accompanying them to their boss’ retirement dinner is probably a step too far.
Watching a movie together is fine, but buying a new high-definition TV because they like to watch David Attenborough documentaries in eye-watering detail is not necessary.
Focus on communication
One thing that can make hooking up with a new person a little tricky is that you don’t know them as well as you would know a long-term partner.
Their turn-ons, turn-offs, and erogenous zones are totally unfamiliar to you, as are yours to them.
This means you have to spend a bit more time on communication: ask them what they enjoy, check in regularly to make sure they’re having fun, and guide them to the things you like to do as well.
Sometimes we can fall into a routine with a long-term partner once we know the way they like to be touched; but with a new partner, all of that knowledge goes right out the window.
Take the opportunity to learn about your new lover, and make sure to keep checking in with them and communicating throughout the whole experience.
Take the opportunity to experiment
There’s something about sleeping with people you don’t know well—it releases inhibitions and makes you feel less self-conscious.
It’s strange, but sometimes it can feel a little awkward confessing to a long-term partner that you’ve always wanted to be pegged, or you’re kind of into golden showers. It shouldn’t feel weird, but it can!
This is probably someone you’ve taken to lunch with your parents, after all.
A casual fling can be a great place to suggest that fantasy you’ve always had, or try that thing you’ve wanted to try.
Whether it’s using sex toys together, trying anal sex, or just experimenting with new positions, a casual partner can help you find a new sense of freedom in your sex life.
And particularly given that the orgasm gap is said to be much wider in casual sex—meaning studies have shown women orgasm far less than men during hook-ups—we think that this makes it the perfect time to buck the trend and try something you know both you and your partner will love.
Make it a friends-with-benefits thing (if you want)
If you really like your casual sex partner and want to see them more often, it’s completely fine to ask if they’d like to have a friends-with-benefits relationship.
Just remember to keep the conversation light and don’t launch into a serious, terrifying monologue about emotional intimacy to try to explain why you only want a casual thing.
All you need to say is something like, “Hey, I have a lot of fun with you, but I just can’t see myself in a relationship with anyone right now. But do you want to keep hanging out like this? It’s really fun.”
Bringing home someone new can be sexy and exciting, but hanging out with them after the deed is done can sometimes feel a bit awkward.
After all, there’s no agreed-on etiquette that everyone follows after a hook-up: do you call them a taxi? Do you invite them to stay? And should you message them the next morning to say thanks for coming over?
The fact that there is no ‘standard procedure’ means that you can do whatever feels right to you—at a bare minimum, we recommend making sure your hook-up gets home safely (walk them home, or wait with them until their transportation arrives) and sending a quick message to say that you liked spending time with them.
Nothing major, but a, “Thanks for coming over, I had a great time!” is considerate and kind.
To learn more about the foundations of great sex with acclaimed sex coach Georgia Grace, check out NORMAL's video masterclass, The Modern Guide To Sex.