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Not looking for love? Perhaps you’re experimenting and want to avoid attachments, or maybe you’re really focused on your goals right now. You can still date or have a friend with benefits without catching feelings. We’re here to help you prevent your casual hookups from becoming a full-fledged relationship—and protect your heart from being broken. Read on to find out how to not catch feelings for someone.
1 1 of 13:Be honest about what you want.
- Tell people you want something casual—not a relationship. Sometimes people agree to see you casually because they hope you’ll want more. You don’t want to accidentally get their hopes up that you’ll fall in love. Discuss your feelings before anything happens so you’re both on the same page.XResearch source Say:
- "I really like hanging out with you, but I’m not looking for a real relationship. Are you okay with seeing each other casually?"
- "I’ve noticed some chemistry between us. I don’t want anything serious, but I’m open to being friends with benefits."
2 2 of 13:Set some ground rules.
- Talk about your boundaries before you hookup. It's tempting to jump straight to the fun part, but hit pause for a second. Both of you need to be on the same page so you can enjoy yourselves without anyone getting hurt. Chat about these topics before you jump into bed:XResearch source
- Can you see other people?
- Will you go on dates?
- How often will you see each other?
- How often will you talk?
- Will you have sleep overs?
- Will you show affection outside of the bedroom?
- Will you notify each other if you sleep with someone else?
- How will you end your sexual relationship?
3 3 of 13:Minimize calls and texts.
- Check in once or twice a week, but don’t have long conversations. Leave a lot of mystery in your relationship so you don’t get too close to each other. Keep your emotional distance by only sharing a few things about yourself. Only talk about your hookups or date plans.XResearch source
- If you’re casually dating, only text them once or twice a week. It’s best to only text about sex or when you’re going to hangout so you don’t develop an emotional attachment.
- If you have a friend with benefits, you might text them as often as you message your other friends.
- To be on the safe side, skip "Good morning" and "Good night" texts. They might make you feel like you’re in a relationship, which can lead to feelings.
- Don’t friend or follow them on social media. You might be curious about this person you’re seeing, but interacting on social media can make your relationship feel too real. Pretty soon, you’ll be checking up on each other and posting photos together. Protect your heart by staying off their feed.XResearch source
- If you have a friend with benefits, consider unfollowing each other while you’re hooking up. Do what feels right to you because you know yourself best.
5 5 of 13:See them only once or twice a week.
- Space out your dates so you don’t get too close. Spending a lot of time together will deepen your connection, and allow your feelings to grow. Create some distance between you to fight off romantic feelings.
- You might have a standing date or you could just hook up when you have time. Just don’t see each other more than twice a week.
6 6 of 13:Hang out only at night.
- Ban day dates because they’re a slippery slope into a relationship. Before you know it, you’ll be swimming in feelings. Stick to nighttime rendezvous to maintain your casual or friends with benefits boundaries. In general, hookups are more likely to stay casual if you only get together for sex.XTrustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source
- If you’re hooking up with a close friend, it might be hard to totally avoid them during the day. Try to stick to group hangouts, so you won’t have time to bond emotionally.
7 7 of 13:Tell them you don’t want any romantic gifts or gestures.
- Agree that you won't exchange things like flowers and chocolates. You might be tempted to exchange Valentine’s Day gifts, Christmas gifts, or birthday gifts. Similarly, it’s fun to surprise each other with a special treat. Unfortunately, it’s really easy to catch feelings this way. Protect yourself by banning gifts.XResearch source
- Try to not keep track of special dates while you’re casually seeing someone or just hooking up. If you do, it can start to feel like a relationship.
8 8 of 13:Avoid cuddling and PDA.
- Give each other personal space. You might hug each other to say "hello" or "goodbye," but don’t stroll along holding hands or curl up together on the couch. It’s better to take a hands-off approach when you’re not having sexy time.XTrustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source Otherwise, you may accidentally fall for them.
- You might decide to be really affectionate right before you sleep together as part of your foreplay. If that feels right to you, just enjoy yourself.
9 9 of 13:Expect them to act like a friend—not a partner.
- Lower your expectations for your interactions. It’s totally normal to crave attention from someone you’re hooking up with. At the same time, do your best to keep your jealousy in check because you’re not actually committed to each other. It might be hard, but don’t get mad if they don’t call or text you in a timely manner.XResearch source If your casual partner isn’t available, try focusing your attention on someone else who catches your eye.
- When you’re casually dating, you might act like partners while you’re out on dates. Just don’t expect them to give you the full relationship experience.
10 10 of 13:Prioritize your other plans.
- Focus on what's really important to you right now. Keep looking for something real, if that’s what you want.XResearch source Additionally, go out with your friends and pursue your goals and interests. Never cancel plans you’ve already made to see someone you’re casually dating or your friend with benefits.
- If you already have plans, tell them you can’t hang out. Say, "Sorry, I already have plans with my friends this Friday," or "Saturday doesn’t work for me. How’s Sunday?"
11 11 of 13:Take them to places you don’t usually go.
- Try out new date spots so you don’t create a routine. Going to your favorite spots makes it feel like a relationship. Instead, make a list of things you’ve always wanted to try, then invite them to join you. Here are some ideas to get you started:XResearch source
- Go bowling.
- Eat at a new restaurant.
- Cook a recipe you haven’t tried before.
- Go for a walk in a park you’ve never visited.
- Go bungee jumping.
- See a new movie.
- Visit a nearby town.
12 12 of 13:Don’t introduce them to your friends and family.
- Save the introductions for someone you’re serious about. It makes sense that you’d want to include the person you’re seeing in big life events, even if you’re keeping it casual. However, when you introduce people to your family, they assume you’re in a serious relationship. Similarly, your friends might get the wrong idea if you make an effort to introduce your partner to them. Keep your dating life private until you’re ready for something more than just a hookup.XResearch source
- If you have a friend with benefits, you may have mutual friends with them. It’s okay for you all to keep hanging out, but it’s a bad idea to bring them home to meet your parents.
13 13 of 13:Date more than one person at a time.
- Tell your partner you’re not exclusive so you can date around. Seeing multiple people at once makes it hard to get close to any of them. Plus, you’re less likely to find yourself staring at your phone waiting for a text when you’re dating several people.XResearch source Try to date at least two people while you’re keeping things casual.
- Just make sure your partners know you’re seeing other people, especially if you’re having sex. You don’t need to provide them all of the details, but let them decide if they’re okay with sharing partners.
- Don't worry about losing your friend. Most people stay friends after a friends with benefits situation ends.XTrustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source
- Make sure you both get tested for sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) so you’re having safer sex.XResearch source
- Distance yourself from the person if you think you’re catching feelings. Spend some time focusing on someone new so you don’t risk falling in love.XResearch source