Sex is not something that happens only when people are in committed relationships. There are many different kinds of sexual relationships and sometimes it can be confusing to sort them all out.
This page provides basic information about hooking up and other casual sex encounters.
What is Hooking Up?
- Hooking up can simply mean that you are getting together with someone and going to a movie or for coffee.
- It can also mean getting together for sex with someone who you are not in a relationship with. It might involve, but is not limited to:
- Making out
- Dry sex (dry humping)
- Feeling someone up
- Oral sex
- Anal sex
- Vaginal* sex
- Mutual masturbation
- Because hooking up means many things, it is important to make sure you are clear with your partner(s) about what you expect.
Why do some people see hooking up differently for different genders?
- Women and men may be judged differently based on their hook up history.
- Men who hook up a lot are often admired and called players.
- Women who hook up a lot are called negative names like slut.
- This is part of a cultural sexual double standard, where by women are shamed for being sexually active while men are admired.
- Try not to stereotype. Not all men want to hook up all the time and some women really enjoy hooking up. Everyone is free to make their own choice.
What are Friends with Benefits?
- Friends with benefits (FWBs) are people who already know each other and decide they will have sex without wanting to get romantically or emotionally involved.
- The expectations for the relationship are ideally discussed before anything happens and there is an expectation that the relationship won’t become romantic.
- FWBs can usually see other people but may consider informing each other if they get romantically involved with someone else.
- Some times FWBs keep their relationship secret from other people in their group.
- Sometimes people have more than one FWB.
How do I keeping the lines of communication open?
If you are having casual sex, whether through hooking up or FWB arrangements, it is still important to communicate and ensure you are both on the same page. For example, sometimes one partner may feel that the relationship is moving onto a more committed arrangement but the other may not agree.
Here are some tips that may help as you move forward:
- Take time to tell your sex partner what you are looking for and find out what the other person expects from the relationship.
- Agree on the amount and type of contact you will have, (through email, texting, phone calls). Tell the other person if you want your contact to become more or less.
- Remember you have the right to say NO or end the relationship whenever you want.
- Hooking up or FWB arrangements is not for everyone. If these kinds of casual sex relationships don’t work for you that’s okay.
Not everyone is into casual sex. Some people would rather be in a relationship and others like the chance to explore their sexuality without being in a relationship. Only you can decide if casual sex is right for you.
Whatever the case may be, it is good to state your intentions up front so you both understand what you’re interests are.
If you have questions about this topic, feel free to contact one of our peer educators. [Link]
*We know that these aren’t the words everyone uses for their bodies (eg. trans folks), and support you using the language that feels best for you.
Last Edited: May 2020