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Playing it cool this summer: How to navigate casual relationships

Casual dating can be super fun and exciting (and sometimes frustrating and frustrating!). To keep things fun and sexy on the line, there are a few things we recommend doing:

Communicating your wants and needs

You’d think that communication in casual relationships would be simpler and maybe less important than in more serious relationships, but you’d be wrong. Create space to talk about your needs, boundaries, and expectations. While certain conversations may be awkward or difficult to have, it’s worth making sure everyone is happy.

Negotiating consent from the start

In any kind of relationship, consent is queen. And not just consent, enthusiastic consent. Make sure you and the other person have a clear understanding of each other’s boundaries and desires. And remember that you or they can change your mind at any time.

Navigating emotions as they unfold

While it’s perfectly fine to focus on having fun in casual relationships, it’s also a good idea to stay mindful of everyone’s emotions as you go along. If you’re seeing someone regularly, feelings can develop and evolve over time, and if things start to change, it’s important to address it quickly. It’s okay to change your mind, it’s just better in the long run to be honest about it.

Protecting your sexual health

Just as you take steps to protect your emotions, it’s key to protect your physical health as well. Have an honest conversation before things happen about everyone’s sexual history and any potential risks. For protection against STIs (and pregnancy), use a condom or an internal condom. Dental dams and/or gloves may also offer STI protection, depending on what type of sex you have, but they do not offer protection against pregnancy. You may also consider PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which is a daily pill or an injection you can get every two months to reduce your risk of contracting HIV. And getting regular STI testing (for you and any partners) is good practice.

Ending things respectfully

Whether it’s a temporary break or a permanent goodbye, it’s important to handle the end of any relationship, no matter how serious, with respect and kindness. Follow the golden rule and avoid ghosting people unless there is a safety issue. All deserve closure.

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