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How To Have a Healthy And Safe Casual Relationship

Cain Parish

In This Article:

The number one thing men fear on dating apps is that the girl will be overweight. The number one thing women fear is dying. Casual relationships have a stigma – that they’re unsafe or unhealthy. That doesn’t have to be the case. Here’s some ground rules to help.

Two people in a healthy and safe casual relationship sharing a bed together

Table of Contents

It is extremely difficult to be one hundred percent safe when dating. Every small action carries some associated risk. Condoms aren’t completely guaranteed. The next person you jump into bed with might have chlamydia. Your new tinder match might be a nutjob, a stalker, or worse, overly clingy.

But, like everything in life, it’s impossible to do anything without a little bit of risk. So, we try our best to mitigate the potential issues whilst still trying to have fun.

Out of all the types of dating, casual relationships have the potential for the most risk and the most fun. The variety of new and exciting experiences you can have is unmatched by steady relationships. You can get swept up in different romances each night of the week if you so choose.

But, with each new tinder match, every new date, the potential for something uncomfortable or possibly harmful increases. We all like to think we’re a good judge of character, and that we’d never do anything unsafe. But really, we do stupid shit constantly.

I once went to a house party being thrown by a girl I’d never met before, in a new neighborhood around the corner from where I lived at the time. It was a Hinge match, and she’d spur-of-the-moment invited me. I showed up at the front door and the house was oddly quiet. There was some music playing fairly softly from the back of the house, but no lights, no noises, and no people.

I texted her to come outside to get me and bring me in. No response. I rang her phone, hoping she’d pick up. No response. I knocked on the door a few times and waited. No response. Whatever was going on inside that house, I genuinely had no way of knowing.

Now, if a friend was telling me this story, this is the part where I tell them to turn around and run away. There are too many red flags. This is what we in the business refer to as an UNSAFE SITUATION.

So naturally, I opened the completely unlocked front door and strolled inside, officially making me a certified Fucking Idiot™.

A sweaty shirtless man was coming down the stairs as I pushed the door open. He greeted me with more friendliness than was probably owed to a home invader, and instantly I understood what kind of party it was.

I was in a drug house.

There was paraphernalia littered all over the floor, empty cartridges and wrappers and bongs and cans of alcohol. Clearly whoever was in this building was having a good fucking time.

Again, would like to absolutely stress that at this point, it was an even better idea for me to Just Fucking Leave™.

But, I went with the perfect stranger upstairs, where they offered me a beer (that was entirely sealed. Even I’m not that fucking stupid…), and I met the girl that had invited me. It was one of the better parties I’ve ever been to, and we had a really good time.

So what was the moral of the story? That even though there were a ton of massive red flags, I was a stupid twenty-year-old that decided it was a good idea to risk it all anyway?

Well, yes, that’s one takeaway. The actual point is that even knowing how good that night turned out to be, if I had to make the same decision again, I absolutely wouldn’t. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, and despite knowing I was perfectly safe, happy, and healthy, I would never do something so downright stupid again.

Those red flags are there for a reason. I am so overwhelmingly glad and grateful that life didn’t decide to knock me on my ass for being such a moron. So, as someone that has done the things you’re not supposed to do, I am here to tell you that the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. Pay attention to the following list of red flags, and your casual relationships will be so much safer for it.

Now, normally I trust my readers to understand that there are caveats to every generalization, but in this case, I want to put a disclaimer here. These are not laws. You are obviously free to do whatever you want, and make silly decisions if you so please. These are guidelines to make sure that you have a sensible head on your shoulders. Some of them are obvious, and some maybe not as much. I’m sure that there are situations and people where all of these things are perfectly safe, but IN GENERAL, these are bad ideas to risk unprepared.

So, without further ado, some do’s and don’ts.

  • DON’T go into someone’s house off of social media before you’ve even met them or verified their existence. If you absolutely have to hook up with them right this second, at the very least get their Snapchat and have them send a photo with a spoon or a shoe on their head. Make sure you’re going to see a real person. Women have clocked to the fact that people on the internet can be possibly dangerous, so really, this one is for the fellas.
  • DON’T accept an invitation back to someone’s house if you don’t trust them enough to consider having sex with them. Accepting an invitation back to someone’s place of residence is not the same as consent, but it is one of those extremely common social cues. If you’re on a date and someone says; “wanna come back to my place and get a drink?”, it usually implies they want to take the date a step further. If you wouldn’t trust them enough to take your pants off, don’t cross the threshold.
  • DO tell your friends where you’re going. Yes, the bartender is extremely cute. Yes, you got his number. Yes, this is the Hot Girl Summer that we all see on Instagram. No, you still need to tell your friends where you’re going with him when he clocks off. Check-in when you get where you’re going, update them with as many relevant details as possible, and for God’s sake, if the person you’re leaving with isn’t comfortable with you sharing that information with your besties, then DON’T GO WITH THEM.
  • DON’T take drugs with someone on a first date. It’s an extremely common pretense for a hookup to offer to smoke with someone or to take something with them on the first date. I personally have never been a drug person. My sex life has been just fine. If the foundation of your relationship is taking sketchy pills from someone you’ve known for five minutes, it’s a bad relationship and a bad idea.
  • DON’T take your personal possessions (wallet, keys, phone) and leave them in easily accessible places. I made the mistake of just emptying my pockets onto a girl’s nightstand, and I came back from the bathroom to see her rifling through my wallet. That is the first time I made that mistake, and also the last. There’s literally no reason to just let it all hang out somewhere, so just… don’t.
  • DO carry contraception with you AT ALL TIMES. Some of the most fun you can have with casual relationships are the spontaneous moments that Just Happen™. Sex can Just Happen. You do not want your child to be the thing that also Just Happened. Guys, as the person with the utensil, it’s your job to bring the wrapper. But, having both been a guy and slept with guys, I can confidently say, Guys Are Stupid. Even if you’re not planning on hooking up, find a spare pocket or pouch to stuff a condom in. You don’t want to be drunk, horny, and have to go, eh, fuck it. Give yourself a present. You never know when you’ll need it.
  • DO have an inviting place to bring people. Say you’ve been a big boy Alpha Male and actually gotten a girl comfortable enough to come home with you. If she walks through the door and sees a cold, uninviting, messy place, the first thing she thinks is serial killer. Get some warm lighting. A throw pillow. If you can stomach it, some fake plants or succulents go a long way to giving your prospective partner some confidence that things (read: her) don’t tend to die around you.
  • DO keep your drink with you at all times, and never accept unsealed drinks from people you don’t know and don’t trust. Your bartender is qualified to serve you an open drink. The sweaty man you’ve just met with the pedo-stache is not. It is club and bar policy in most places to throw out drinks that have been left unattended for any amount of time. If you absolutely must go to the bathroom without your cup, give it to a friend or a bartender. Roofies are way too common to fuck around with. After having my head buried in a toilet and my eyes glazed over because someone was nice enough to share some chemicals with me, I’m convinced of this fact.
  • DO think about the risk before you take it. Unmarked pills in a club bathroom? Probably not worth the risk. Having sex in a primary school playground? Not worth the sex offender registry. There are lots of examples that seem obvious in the light of day. We are human. Humans like to pretend to be prim and proper and then do the stupidest shit when we think nobody is watching.

You’re going to develop your own risk tolerance. I have friends that will never, under pain of death, go home with a stranger before they’ve met them at least three times. That’s their way of ensuring their safety. I also have friends that take MDMA on the first date. They personally don’t mind the risk.

Part of your journey through getting better at relationships is working out how much risk you want to tolerate, and how much the positives balance against the negatives. Sometimes we drive 5km over the speed limit because getting to our destination is worth the risk of a fine and the safety hazard. The same is true with nightlife situations. Living on the edge is extremely fun, until it isn’t.

Figure out what consequences you could tolerate, and try to live your relationships with those consequences in mind. Be safe, but also have fun. It’s a hard line to walk, but it’s worth it.


What are the key precautions for engaging in casual relationships?

Prioritize safety by verifying a date’s identity, communicating your whereabouts to friends, and being cautious about accepting invitations or substances from someone you’ve just met.

How can I ensure my personal safety when meeting someone new?

Always tell a friend about your plans, keep personal belongings secure, and carry contraception to prevent unwanted consequences.

What general advice is given for maintaining safety in casual encounters?

We want to stress the importance of awareness and preparedness, including having/finding a welcoming environment, keeping your drink safe, and critically assessing risks before acting.

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Cain Parish

Cain Parish is the owner of A prolific writer, educator and relationship coach since 2019, he specializes in dating, relationships, emotional intelligence and social skills. He is also the author and creator of the world’s largest and most comprehensive database for dating and relationship advice, which can be found on his website. His first book, I’m Sorry I Egged Your House, is due to be published in 2024.

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