Casual relationships are essentially about fun and sexual release. In theory, they shouldn’t be complicated, intense or time-consuming. Most people enter casual relationships because they feel they are not ready to commit or don’t see a potential romantic partner that they view as something that could go the distance.

Due to this, they enter into relationships with partners they have no emotional attachment to and they keep each other at arm’s length to make the affair more complicated than it needs to be.

Still, it’s not uncommon that things go south even in casual relationships that were established as such from the very start. Emotions are not easy to anticipate and are even harder to control, so things go off script in a blink of an eye. Relationships are always prone to signs of affection and emotional bonding, there is no going around that, but the point is to handle them like an adult when they do happen.

If you are in a casual relationship or are thinking about entering one, you need to be aware of the signs that your relationship has started morphing into something not so casual. This can help you avoid getting into complicated situations and hurting somebody unintentionally.

We can’t really provide you with all the signs that something is brewing, as people are very different and these signs can range from subtle to all-out public displays of dissatisfaction, but we can provide you with a list of more common behavioral patterns.

We have to point out that you should be 100% sure of this before you start raising questions and accusations – you don’t want to make a fuss over nothing, as that wouldn’t be very casual from you.

1. There’s no room for “We” in casual relationships

Let’s start with an obvious one – casual relationships are not couplings. There is no room for “We” in these situations and as soon as your casual partner starts to use that pronoun, you should start worrying. Sure, in some situations it’s unavoidable and it’s meaningless, but more often than not this kind of view of a casual relationship is a sign of trouble.

You don’t have to react immediately, but if it persists you might want to have another talk to reestablish boundaries and, if that doesn’t work, get out of there.

2. Friends & family

The only way to keep a casual relationship going for a while is to keep your lives separate. There are few faster ways to entangle your lives than meeting each other’s friends and family.

In some situations, this can happen by accident and you get introduced or introduce the other party to friends or family to avoid the situation becoming additionally awkward.

Still, if there is pressure from your partner to introduce each-other to both side’s family and friends, this is a clear sign that they want something more from you. In extreme cases, this can land you in some awkward situations, like ending up attending their family event when you thought it would be just the two of you.

You might want to avoid that by having a preemptive conversation about the matter.

3. The “I missed you” bomb

I Miss You

OK, so you started hooking up, it was a common occurrence for a while and then you backed off for a while for, well, whatever reason. You get in touch again and meet up for another hook up and they tell you they’ve missed you.

Do you panic right away? Well, no but you should be cautious. The “I missed you” might simply mean they needed sex, but it can also mean that they’ve thought about you a lot and realized they wanted to see more of you.

Feel things out and try to figure out what’s going on. The “I missed you” line is usually a sign of emotional attachment. Still, let’s be honest here, it could also mean that they got really horny.

4. The affectionate stare

In some situations, the signs of things getting more complicated are very subtle. In all honesty, emotions don’t always explode in some amazing romantic gesture. Sometimes you can figure out someone’s intentions by simply paying attention to how they look at you.

Maybe not always while you are really engaged with each other, but if you catch them throwing you a profound glance while you are not looking, it might be time to rehash your relationship or to just lower the frequency of your meetups.

This kind of moony-eyed behavior is also accompanied by the giggles, regardless of the quality of the jokes you tell, undivided attention, and sometimes even sighing. The classic case of having a crush and it might be the start of trouble for you.

5. Cute nicknames – stop please!

You know that common troupe you see in movies when someone finds a stray animal and is warned against naming it so as to not get too attached? The same thing can happen in a relationship with cute nicknames.
There is nothing wrong with having a nickname for your boyfriend/girlfriend, but this is not that kind of a relationship. If your casual partner starts giving you cute nicknames, things might be getting a bit too close for comfort. Nicknames between partners are a sign of closeness and profound affection – this is why cute nicknames make single people cringe.

Well, in casual relationships you are, for all intents and purposes, single. I mean you have a partner, but you are not exclusive and are not in an emotional relationship – nicknames make this arrangement awkward.

6. Constant texting

woman is texting

We all text a lot these days and chances are you got in the sack in the first place over a keyboard. Now the road to casual hookups is often paved by steamy chats, sometimes even sexting, and this chatting usually dies down once you settle into your hookup routine.

On the other hand, texting too much can be a sign that your partner wants more from you and your relationship.

Constant texts to inquire about your location, activities, to tell you a joke, to send you a song or whatever other reason, are obvious signs that they want to have more frequent contact with you. While it may not bother you at first, but you are going to find yourself in a much more serious relationship than you signed up for.

7. They know you and want to show it

We’re human and even in casual relationships we still interact, communicate, open up, and get to know each other. Still, we won’t go that deep when opening up as we would with a partner that we love and want to be with.

In some cases, one of you may develop a deeper affection for the other person as you pick up the little pieces of information along the way and spend more time with your casual lover.

The signs that this is happening can be quite subtle, like them having your favorite drink every time you come over, to not so subtle, as buying you a particular item you craved as a gift.

Furthermore, they will remember a lot of details about your previous conversations and may actively reference them in an attempt to show off their interest. This isn’t always intentional but sometimes it is and should be discussed.

8. Casual pokes at serious commitment

When people find it too awkward to talk about something seriously, they often introduce it as a joke to a conversation in an attempt to test the water. “Wouldn’t it be silly if we ended up in a relationship? Ha, ha. Wouldn’t it?” and your blood freezes and you don’t know how to respond.

This is basically passive-aggressive behavior and it usually happens due to the frustration of not being able to share their feelings openly, so it’s basically their way to vent.

You might want to discuss this as soon as possible before their frustration grinds them into a more aggressive state – talk it out.

9. They want you to make plans for the future

see movies together

Not all casual relationships are the same, nor is there are a set of standardized rules for them. Sometimes people set things up so that they only see each other when they hook up, while others go out together, go partying, for drinks, even movies, but are still casual and non-exclusive.

Depending on the precedent set at the beginning of your relationship, things may go into various directions.

Still, pressure is never good when you want to keep things casual. The whole point is to have pleasure without commitment. If they start asking you to spend holidays with them, go to parties they want to go to, see movies together, and they introduce those plans as a given, things have moved away from casual.

Don’t allow yourself to become trapped in the other person’s idea of what your relationship should be – even out the scales, set some boundaries, and get your schedule back for yourself.

10. They change their plans when you call

In a serious relationship, there are moments when you simply drop everything you are doing to spend more time with your partner.

This isn’t something that should happen with casual partners and if you find out that your partner offers absolutely no resistance when you arrange your meetups, there might be something fishy going on.

It can be difficult to figure this out as a sign of a growing affection on their part. You call with a plan to meet up, they agree – great! Once, twice, three times, always! It could be that you just keep getting lucky and the both of you simply have enough free time on your hands.

Still, be on the lookout, sometimes they’ll even tell you that they’ve canceled their plans to see you. If you get to that point, this means that they are not above blowing someone else off for you, and they want you to know it.

This kind of commitment is usually a sign of attachment and can cause turmoil in your casual relationship.

What can I do when I notice these things?

There’s a dilemma here that is hard to figure out. If you say something and you get into a lovers’ spat – the cat is out of the bag, the wolf is loose, and things will never go back to being casual and easy.

On the other hand, remaining silent and ignoring the signs will first get you to agree to a sort of relationship you didn’t have in mind, and/or will lead to the other person getting more intense and pushy.

So what do you do?

Well, we suggest that you bring the subject up and try to hash things out. Don’t get emotional about it, don’t be overly aggressive,just lay the cards on the table and remind them what kind of relationship you agreed upon.

See whether they can dial it down a notch and continue with this kind of situation or whether you need to back off from each other. In a lot of cases, it’s just a matter of time until the frustration of not being able to fulfill their emotional needs drives them over the edge again and, most often, it’s best to find a new partner – for both sides.

Why? Well, it isn’t very healthy for them to attach themselves to a person who can’t or won’t give them the emotional fulfillment they seek and for the casual partner, things just got too complicated and intense, even though the point was to avoid this.

If the things mentioned above happen but they don’t bother you, you are either extremely thick-skinned or you have developed feelings of your own. If you have feelings for the other person and they have feelings for you – we say give it a shot.

It’s not uncommon for people who started out as casual sex partners to do that and have the whole thing work out great for them in the end. If, on the other hand, you don’t have feelings for them – sort it out or get out.