In an ever-swiping dating landscape, sometimes, you want to get laid without a big commitment. There’s nothing wrong with casual sex. And although I loathe the term “hookup culture,” it’s not reserved only for millennials (nor as pervasive as we’ve been led to believe). Plenty of people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond are doing the promiscuous thing. Relationships take time and effort, and sometimes, those elements are off the dating docket. Done right, one-night stands can be stress-free and fun. Here’s how to do it.
Have no expectations
If you enter a casual sex scenario with no (and I mean no) expectations and safety in mind, no-strings-attached sex can be a great way to explore your sexuality without emotional baggage — at any age. Let’s be clear though: NSA sex is not about candlelit dinners and deep conversations, so don’t throw caution to the wind with someone you really, really care for. You may think you can handle it, but trust me, feelings always worm their way in. Not to say that casual sex always precludes intimacy.
Know your motivations
Before you jump into something, take a look at what you’re looking to get out of the situation.
“First, know thyself and feel comfortable and aware about your motivations,” Dr. Carol Queen, a sexologist, tells SheKnows. “I’ve definitely known people who weren’t honest about their reasons for stating they wanted casual sex, caught feelings, suddenly behaved not-so-casually. You can find a life partner when out playing around — I did — but it’s important to be honest with yourself and feel good about what you’re doing.”
Queen says this means being honest with the no-strings person too, so you can make sure you aren’t actually incompatible with your so-called casual hook-up’s true motives: “Failing to do this opens the door to drama.”
Use dating apps to find like-minded partners
So, how to do you find a partner who wants the same things you want? Jennifer and Sean Rahner of GeekySexyLove are big fans dating apps. “They are a great way to pinpoint what you are looking for and screen potential partners,” they say.
The Rahners note that there are new ones introduced every day, so it is difficult to keep up with all options, but you can use something like Tinder, which shows you matches who are geographically close to you, or OkCupid, which allows for a bunch of personalization in terms of sexual orientation, gender expression, relationship desired, etc., and matches you with other people who are like-minded through a series of questions.
“Your desire for an NSA situation can be expressed via your answers to their questions, and you can easily find partners who feel the same,” they add.
Use specialty sites for niche interests
The Rahners also suggest seeking out specialty sites if you are looking for something specific. “I counted at least a half a dozen sites geared toward ‘cougars,’ which might be just the perfect opportunity for an NSA situation,” they say. “Younger man/older woman matches can be a ton of fun, sexually, given our different sexual peaks.”
Have the difficult conversations in advance
Another reason the Rahners are fans of meeting via an app is that it is often easier to have consent and safer-sex discussions online before meeting. “If a potential partner balks at condom use or says they’ve never been tested for STIs, do you really want to invest your time and energy in meeting them?” they ask.
Again, meeting online is a great way to sort through options before spending valuable time. “Bring up difficult conversations — STI status and testing, safer-sex protocols, pregnancy-prevention options (if applicable), NSA expectations, consent expectations — as you’re getting to know each other via chat and once you do meet, any ‘action’ can just flow more naturally.”
Steer clear of excessive alcohol
Queen admits it may be a little controversial, but she suggests trying to develop your skills, your game, your casual-sex persona when you are more sober than not. “I really believe casual sex can be a good thing, so I have a dog in the race — I want people to do this because they want to and feel good about it,” says Queen. “Party drink and drugs can cover up mixed feelings, and I urge people to be aware about that. Also, it lets you learn the safety elements of getting intimate with strangers.”
We should all be safe all the time. “I want that to be true as much as anyone, but in lived experience, I want us to be able to keep our wits about us when it comes down to that,” she says. “Also, to the degree you are actually in it for the pleasure, don’t cover it up too much.” A few cocktails can be great for so-called “liquid courage,” but may make you less aware of your surroundings — which could be a safety issue.
If you’re thinking about causal sex, adopt the Scout Motto: Be prepared. “If you have lube, condom, sex toy preferences, pack them in the big handbag before you go out,” says Queen.
Always be safe
Of course, even if your intent is an NSA encounter, don’t lock yourself into a particular situation sight unseen. “Meet for coffee or a drink in a public place and discuss how you’ll proceed if one or both of you aren’t into proceeding once you’ve met,” says Queen. “Book your own room if you are traveling out of town so you have a place to retreat if the situation isn’t right. Make sure a trusted friend knows who you will be with and where. Arrange for a check-in call so that someone knows you are safe.”
Aside from safety, NSA sex is all about enjoying yourself. So as long as it’s fun and no one gets hurt, go forth and have casual sex without consequences!