College students love the casual hookup, but here’s a little secret: it’s never as casual as it seems. In fact, hookups are always more complicated than relationships. They seem like the perfect deal, combining great sex and no strings attached. No one can be blamed for naively trying to make this work because if someone could pull this off, it would be awesome. The only problem is that the whole “no strings attached” never seems to last.
So, if we all know it probably won’t end well, why do we continue to perpetuate this culture? At times, it seems like we are all too afraid to be alone, but too selfish to be accountable for other people’s emotions. This widely-accepted “hookup culture” allows people to get the most out of a relationship while putting in as little effort in as they can. Somewhere along the road, we’ve settled for this weird in-between thing we like to call the casual hookup because it’s easier than being alone and not as scary as letting ourselves be emotionally vulnerable.
But don’t be fooled. Just because you haven’t made it official doesn’t mean you’re not lowkey in a relationship and just lying to yourself about it. If this list feels way too relatable for your comfort, then hate to break it to you, but you’re kind of in a relationship.
1. You started off as “friends with benefits.”
This is the first tell-tale sign that your casual hookup is more than you bargained for. Friends with benefits is not a thing. Yes, it’s possible to have a causal fling and there’s no denying that the intention at the start could have been to purely be friends with benefits, but somehow it always ends up that you’re getting more than just the obvious benefit. Chances are if you’ve been hooking up with your friend for a long time, there’s something more. The complication with “friend with benefits” is that it’s really hard to know where to draw the line and, before you know it, those feelings you had towards your friend start getting confused with what might be romantic feelings. But honestly, there’s a reason people say the best relationships always start as friendships.
This does not necessarily mean that it’s not a causal hookup, but if your occasional booty call has started happening more frequently, you could be entering dangerous territory.
3. You hook up sober.
This is where it starts getting slippery. It probably goes something like this: one of you texts the other to see what they’re up to. You’re both around, so you decide to “chill.” You’re just hanging out having a good time, one thing leads to another and before you know it you’re having sober sex. Whether or not you’re happy, this means you must actually enjoy the company of the person you’re sleeping with and what’s worse, you’re comfortable enough with them that you don’t need liquid courage to be the explanation for why it happened.
4. Casual hookups never meet your friends, but this hookup is friends with your friends.
Unlike the casual hookup, this one actually means liking the person you’re sleeping with. Just because you’re having sex does not mean the friendship stops. In fact, it’s probably the opposite. Being intimate will probably strengthen your friendship and all the added time spent together will help.
5. You hang out in public together.
If your relationship is not chained to the bed then neither are your feelings.
6. When your friends see one of you out, they ask where the other one is.
Maybe you guys didn’t start as friends, but once your friends start asking you where the other one is or what they are up to, that’s how you know its becoming more.
7. You get jealous when you see your fling flirting with other people.
Because it’s causal, you can’t get jealous. That doesn’t mean you don’t and if you find yourself getting upset when you see your fling talking or flirting with other people you’ve definitely caught some type of feelings.
8. They remember stuff about you that you don’t even remember telling them.
Listening means you care and remembering shows that the person matters to you.
9. You sleep together without sleeping together.
The first time you spend the night and don’t have sex is bad news for the “casual hookup.” If you want to still spend the night knowing you’re not “getting any,” it means you like this person for more than just the physical and sexual benefits. This is not to say that sex is the most important part of a relationship, but when you become comfortable enough sharing a bed with your hookup just to cuddle, you are no longer causal. Cuddling is something couples do, not fuck buddies.
10. You kiss outside the sheets.
In a casual hookup, when you leave the bed, the kissing should stop. If you find yourselves kissing each other goodbye, being touchy feely in the morning, or just wanting to show public displays of affection it’s another signal that your hookup is turning into something more.
11. You watch a show together.
“Netflix and chill” is fine, but once you start waiting for them to watch the next episode, you’re in trouble. Oh, and if they have your HBO Go password that’s when you really know it’s getting serious.
12. You ask each other how that presentation or test went.
If you know what is going on in their life in-between the hookups and care enough to follow up and check in, there’s another sign it’s about more than just the sex.
13. You keep things at each other’s places.
I’m sorry but if you have a toothbrush at his house (or vice versa) you guys are dating. End of story. Oh and if you’ve packed an overnight bag to try and get out of actually leaving things at his house, nice try but it’s just as bad. Planning to spend the night at his house before even leaving the house for a night out means your fling is not just a fling.
Here’s a big one. This enters weird territory where you’re not actually together but you’re no longer just hooking up. A fling is not exclusive and if you have been exclusive it means something more is going on.
15. Your family knows about it.
Friends knowing is one thing, but once your family knows it’s a whole other story. You wouldn’t even be speaking to your casual hookup about your family let alone telling your family about him. None of us would ever bring home someone who is just a fling. Meeting the friends? Maybe. But the parents? Absolutely not. If you’ve told your family about this person there’s a clear sign this is way more than just a hook up.
16. You feel like you’d owe him an explanation if you wanted your fling to end.
This one’s pretty straightforward. Casual hookups can just end, but intimate ones will require an explanation. If you feel like at the very least you need to send your fling a text and let him know what’s up, it means that you guys are not just causal.