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Casual relationships. Casually dating. Casual sex. Friends with benefits. A fling. Whatever you want to call it; we all know what it is. As Wikipedia – the non-credible-yet-overused source – describes it: "casual sexual relationship, casual relationship, or casual dating, is a physical and emotional relationship between two people who may have casual sex or a near-sexual relationship without necessarily demanding or expecting the extra commitments of a more formal romantic relationship."

While the term is not always used consistently, it’s basically hooking up without the romantic relationship or the plan for something long term part. Usually these relationships expire when one person calls the other person out on the casualness of the relationship because they want more. But that doesn't mean that the experience was all in vain.

This recently happened to a friend of mine, and she wanted me to use her as an example. She was casually dating this guy for two months when she realized he didn't want a relationship with her, but they had really good chemistry and he gave her a lot of attention. This guy texted her dozens of times a day even. The red flag that finally made her realize the casualness of their relationship was that he didn't make plans in advance to hang out with her and that he wasn't always around on the weekends even though he had no problem casually dating her during the week. Did he want a committed relationship with her? No, you know that and I know that. My friend didn't understand how, even when you have a strong emotional and sexual connection with someone, you can still be casual. After all. it looks a lot like love sometimes, doesn't it?

The truth is that you can feel strongly connected to someone you're having a casual relationship with, but it doesn't mean that the person will want committed romantic love or a long-term relationship. Most of us have experienced the bad side of casual relationships where someone gets hurt. The thing with casual relationships is that they don’t have to be bad or a waste of time. As I told my friend, you can take the opportunity to learn something from each one of these situations. Here are 12 things I learned from casual relationships to keep in mind:

  1. You have to be with a lot of “fish” to know when you find the “right” one for you.
  2. Casual dating means you can always be on the look-out for someone new to date. Duh!!!!!!!!!
  3. Monogamy is not expected. Hello,that’s why it’s "casual."
  4. Sometimes these arrangements are necessary because neither of you are ready to commit. Timing for both people involved is everything.
  5. You got to socialize and meet people from the opposite sex. Socialization is important; embrace the life experience!
  6. If the casual relationship didn't turn into a long-term relationship…it's usually for good reason!
  7. There is no such thing as “no strings attached.” Whoever made up that phrase should be shot. Someone always gets attached, and it’s not always the girl!
  8. The sex! Oh, the sex. Well hey, at least you acquired more sexual experience to recycle for when the right person comes along. Your next long-term partner will be thankful you got to experiment.
  9. Don’t drag out a casual relationship into something long term if you didn't want that person for a serious relationship to begin with. Think about your intentions and what you really want out of a serious romantic relationship before you turn something casual into more than what it really is.
  10. Every casual relationship has an expiration date. Why make it a bigger deal than what it really is. On to the next…
  11. Sometimes when casual relationships end they feel like real breakups and that’s okay.
  12. Let’s not blame casual sex on a problem with the so called “hookup culture,” it’s just not the person that wants to be with you. It is what it is.

Hopefully this helps illustrate some of the positives in causal relationships. Don't be afraid of them!