11 Types Of Casual Relationships That Exist

Single and Dating | | , Content Strategist
Updated On: March 16, 2023
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No two relationships ever look the same. You might put a relationship into a broad category, like exclusive or not exclusive. But did you know there are different types of casual relationships? Recently, my best friend, Alice, started dating right after she got out of a serious relationship. I wondered if she was looking for something romantic. But when I had a conversation with her, I realized she was not so open to a committed relationship at that moment.

She said, “I don’t know what I am expecting out of this relationship, but I don’t think it is anything serious. I simply want to live in the moment and take in the experiences I can have.” Our girl gang deciphered this to be her casual relationship phase, and from there, we got to talking about our friend’s current casual relationship psychology.

What Is A Casual Relationship?

A casual relationship can be called non-exclusive, but that’s not always the case. You can see other people unless one of the two people in the relationship asks for exclusive dating. A casual relationship follows the following criteria:

  • Something more than a hookup or one-night stand
  • Something that lacks relationship labels
  • An attachment where you pursue fun and do not wish to settle down
  • A relationship that doesn’t demand commitment

Research states that 23% of people use online dating applications to look for casual sex whereas 20% are there to find non-exclusive partners. Such relationships ultimately develop into different types of casual relationships which in some cases can be long-term casual relationships or short-term casual relationships. If you’ve reached the three-month mark of a relationship and still haven’t talked about exclusivity, you’re officially in a casual relationship.

11 Types Of Casual Relationships That Exist

As per casual relationship psychology, people who are with each other only for physical intimacy and aren’t looking for anything long-term are said to be in a casual relationship. While the boundaries of a casual relationship are porous, the foremost question is – What to expect in a casual relationship?

Related Reading: Casual Dating – 13 Rules To Swear By

  • A non-exclusive partner who in most cases will cater to your physical needs only
  • It might not be just about sex, some people wish to keep things light-hearted as they’ve recently come out of a serious relationship
  • Casual daters may also find the idea of a long-term casual relationship to be exciting and stimulating
  • People who are emotionally unavailable also seek casual dating

It’s a wide arena of casual dating out there and here are the different types of casual relationships:

1. The classic fling

The casual and brief relationship that Emma and Adam initially hoped to share in the movie, No Strings Attached, is what you call a casual fling. It’s a brief sexual encounter where you aren’t accountable for each other’s feelings. This can certainly not be counted as a long-term casual relationship as it lasts approximately two or three months.

2. Open relationship: a multiple partner clarity

The sexcapades hosted by the Anfitriona of Club Paradiso in the movie, More The Merrier, are an apt example of open relationships where people are allowed to have sexual encounters with people outside of their relationship. While as per casual relationship psychology, there might be a few ground rules for an open relationship, the idea of being free to pursue your sexuality makes the relationship quite open.

3. Swinging: swapping your sexual partners

Swinging is not an uncommon idea in the current relationship structures. A consensual exchange/swapping of sexual partners amidst a group of people (at least four) is one of the different types of casual relationships.

As per the couples who have experienced swinging, the common phrase they use to describe the experience is, “It (swinging) is a perfect way to spice things up.” That’s the crux of what to expect in a casual relationship like this.

4. Long-term casual relationship

In this, people choose to date and are sexually involved with each other for a considerably long period of time. You may call it a setup for filling in the need for a temporary committed relationship where you don’t carry the baggage of it but surely get the benefits of a committed relationship.

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5. Polyamory: beyond ‘the one’

It’s a relationship structure that practices a romantic and sexual relationship with more than one partner at the same time with the informed consent of all partners. While many people get into polyamory to nurture more than one committed relationship, at times, it is sought for temporary sexual relationships too that take place outside of the primary relationship. That makes it one of the types of casual relationships that are becoming more and more common nowadays. This kind of arrangement caters well to someone’s casual relationship psychology.

Related Reading: 9 Polyamorous Relationship Rules According To An Expert

6. Emotional fling

An emotional fling is when people are only dependent on each other for their emotional stability. They don’t seek any physical pleasure from each other, yet in order to bring stability to their life, they prefer to talk about their feelings without filters. This is also a brief period of time where you feel you have feelings for someone, while that is certainly not the case. This is a kind of relationship that doesn’t transform into a long-term casual relationship.

7. The “let’s keep it as it is” dynamic

Here, the people involved in the relationship don’t wish to evolve in the stages of their relationship as they fear emotional attachment. The bond in such relationships is often aloof and solely based on sexual grounds. You’ll often hear phrases like “I like where we are” or “Let’s just enjoy ourselves”. It is one of the types of casual relationships where the partners do not wish to bring commitment into the picture and are together to have fun and escape life.

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8. Friends with benefits

Jamie and Dylan hoped to have boundaries in their relationship in the movie, Friends With Benefits. They chose to have a friendship that could entail sexual favors from time to time.

As per one of our readers, Helly, a landscape artist, “Friends with benefits is an easy concept if you do not wish to lose a friend, but cannot sexually refrain from them as well. It lets the cat out of the bag.” This runs on the casual relationship psychology where a person fears losing a friend or just wishes to keep things uncomplicated with them.

Do you think casual relationships are less demanding?

9. The ‘hanging out’ relationship

In these types of casual relationships, one is not even dating. They are simply “hanging out”. This, in no way, means that the relationship is going anywhere. Often when people decide to go with the flow, there’s a possibility that the flow might end up nowhere. You might like each other’s company but that’s that, you don’t hope for it to turn into something sustainable.

Related Reading: 13 Sure-Shot Signs A Casual Relationship Is Getting Serious

10. The untagged relationship

Here, the couple usually does not know what to call their dynamic. They cannot be tagged into any of the usual categories and they wish to keep it that way. The different types of casual relationships might have set labels, but here, the two people are neither friends nor lovers. They are somewhere in the grey area between the two, and one cannot really put a tag on it.

11. Situationship: a classic escape

With the idea of living in the moment and having ‘only’ fun, the idea of a situationship is that you like where you are. There’s mushy romance and butterflies, but you know this isn’t something with the potential of even a long-term casual relationship. You continue with it though, because, at that moment, it feels perfect to you.

Key Pointers

  • A casual relationship can offer you a companion to your adventures, an intimate partner, or a much-needed listener if it is on emotional grounds
  • There are different types of casual relationships, namely, polyamory, polyfidelity, situationship, friends with benefits, etc.
  • In the current dating culture, people often seek to have a casual relationship to avoid long-term commitment

Casual relationships might be seen as an escape from the serious route of love. But at the end of the day, everybody needs someone, someone who can be their person – and that’s what people eventually seek.


1. Are casual relationships healthy?

If you openly communicate your needs with your partner from time to time, then surely, a casual relationship can be healthy. If you are hiding your feelings or not admitting them even to yourself, then it might just turn toxic for you and your partner.

2. How to keep a casual relationship casual?

One should set boundaries of what one is allowed to do and not allowed to do and actually stick to them. Check-in with each other regularly to ensure you’re still on the same page. If you are in a casual relationship, do not tell anyone about it at work or school. If it involves more people, you’ll have to deal with their expectations. Of course, the primary thing to keep in mind is to have fun but not develop a dependency on your casual partner. 

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