What Happens When You Check Off the Casual Sex Box on a Dating Site?


My friend, Christan Marashio, also known as Moxie on her blog “And That’s Why You’re Single”, wrote a compelling first-person piece on what happened when she expanded her search on OkCupid to include casual sex.

Of course, the predictable responses rolled in: pervy, skeevy, tone-deaf guys giving their most forthright pitch, to no avail.

What you probably wouldn’t expect as a woman – what I already know as a man – is that just because a man is interested in casual sex doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ONLY interested in casual sex.

Wrote Marashio, “I polled a few men as to why they checked off casual sex. One man said he did so to make clear that sexual compatibility was important to him. Another said he did it so that women would understand that he would not date someone for too long without sex being part of the equation. A different man not only selected casual sex but clipped his profile by telling readers he was currently dating other women. When I asked him about that he told me he wished to avoid meeting women who might develop other expectations.

What you probably wouldn’t expect as a woman – what I already know as a man – is that just because a man is interested in casual sex doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ONLY interested in casual sex.

Interesting stuff. I think it’s pretty foolish for guys to think that “casual sex” conveys what they meant, but I’m sure they were sincere in their intentions. Which brings us full-circle to one of my more popular credos: “men look for sex and find love”.

The article continues, “I ended up dating three men during this time for 3-6 months each. We did “couple-y” things like go to the movies, make dinner, and spend weekends together. We weren’t meeting up for quickies as some people might assume. There was intimacy and affection and shared confidences. There just wasn’t exclusivity or expressed commitment. I wasn’t seeking “just” sex, so adding casual sex as a relationship choice actually worked to my advantage. It exposed me–in various ways–to a broader audience. One that I may not have been exposed to had I been a “good girl” and listened to my well-meaning male friends and only selected short and long-term dating.”

To sum up – are you more likely to attract pervs if you check off casual sex? Yep. Are you more likely to meet guys who aren’t in the place for a serious relationship? Sure. Are you more likely to find your knight in shining armor if you click “marriage” and nothing else? Probably. But it’s wrong to assume that every guy who is interested in casual sex is not husband potential. If you understand that, like the author did, it can be a valuable way to potentially expand your options – knowing that some men are just looking for fun…until they fall in love. High risk/high reward.

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  1. 21

    Yikes, you are very brave. I am of the attitude if it makes you happy, go for it. However, I can tell you that having sex with multiple men, who are in turn having sex with multiple women, would make it very difficult for me to develop any type of closeness. Perhaps that is my own insecurity, or part of just me. That has been the hardest thing for me to grasp in the world of online dating.

  2. 22

    @ Morgan # 18
    I am embarrassed to admit that I often have to look up the slang/ acronym/ abbreviations.

  3. 23
    Karmic Equation

    Rose 19

    “If a man is telling you he is happy to have causal sex, LISTEN he is letting you know that he is happy to use a womans body as an object for his own instant self gratification with no regard for the woman as a whole person. That is a selfish attitude.”

    Rose, are you talking from personal experience? Or from conjecture?

    I think this is all conjecture on your part because what you state just doesn’t happen IRL. Perhaps online with the checkbox, but that’s not quite the same as “telling” it to someone’s face.

    #1 – Men and women don’t typically “tell” each other they want casual sex – not in those terms, any way. Most times, the conversation is “I’m not looking for anything serious” OR there is simply no discussion about commitment or relationships when the clothes start coming off. So no guy is going to TELL you he wants casual sex. He normally tells you what he’s NOT LOOKING for (way before the clothes start coming off) and you have to decide then whether to move forward or not. If you don’t end the relationship once he’s said “I’m not looking for anything serious”, you’re implicitly agreeing to HIS agenda: casual relationship. So, IRL, there is no “telling” anyone you want casual sex. The closest you’ll get is a “I don’t don’t want anything serious.”

    #2 – As a woman who indulges in casual sex, which means sex without commitment or expectations (great definition courtesy of Skaramouche 11)–not sex with anything with a penis–I am friends and friendly with and care for the men with whom I have (or have had) sex. We hang out, watch TV, shoot pool, play board games, talk, have dinner, etc., just like non-romantic friends do. The only difference is sometimes those hangouts end up with us spending the night together.

    I fail to see how simply adding the element of “casual sex” into the interaction all of a sudden makes my friends or me, “happy to use a [person’s] body as an object for their own instant self gratification with no regard for the [individual] as a whole person. That is a selfish attitude.”

    I suggest that unless you ACTUALLY HAVE HAD casual sex, to not talk about it like this. Perhaps certain times in your past you may have had sex without commitment, but I’ll bet that you had unspoken expectations and were burned. So the sex was NOT, in fact, casual for you.

    Casual sex adds another dimension to one’s friendships. As long as you don’t have casual sex with people you actually want romantic relationships with, it’s a lot of fun. But you can only do this if you’re a secure person with a healthy and realistic outlook about sex and relationships.

    As a woman, casual sex allows you to “chase attraction” and not get burned, as long as you know how to deal with your oxytocin bonding tendencies. If you’re only in it for the sex and not angling for a relationship, once you have sex, your goal is accomplished. Any relationship that might result is a bonus. If you’re hoping for sex to jumpstart a relationship, that will backfire on you.

    So either have sex for sex’s sake; or have sex only within a sexclusive relationship. Don’t try to use sex to start a relationship. That’s when you’ll get hurt.

    That said, I’m glad I was a serious, monogamous young woman, who found good men to have relationships with. I think if I had met cads and players in my youth, I could easily have been damaged by them. But because I’m indulging now, as an emotionally mature and secure adult, casual sex is nothing but liberating.

    Tina #17
    When it comes to men, there is high reward to go with the right high-risk man. Wouldn’t we all want a chance to tame James Bond? The probability of taming a man like that is slim to none. But just imagine if you were “that one”<sigh>

    If you allow yourself to indulge in casual sex, there would be at least one night to remember for the rest of your life with a man like that. I’m not sure about most people, but I know that I regret things I’ve never done more than the things I have actually done. You can bet I’d “do” James Bond were I given the chance. Because I’d regret passing him up more than I would indulging. As long as I accept that no relationship will result, I would commit myself to having the time of my life (and his LOL) with him, even while knowing that would be the only night ever.

  4. 24

    @ Rose # 19
    You wrote, “If a man is telling you he is happy to have casual sex, LISTEN…”   I don’t know if what follows in that paragraph is true about him having no regard for the woman as a whole person.   But I whole heartedly agree with LISTEN.   I had a guy friend say to me (after asking him how I could choose better), “look, listen, and pay attention.”    My sister always says, “people reveal themselves.”
    Casual sex is an emotional mine field that I am personally not equipped to deal with.   There have been times when I have wished I could, it seems to me that in someways it would be easier if I could.   
    When I went online four years ago I strongly believed three things. 1.   I would be the only one to take care of my daughter for the rest of my life.   I could not imagine that there would come a time when I would not be the one to do everything for her.   2.   I didn’t believe that anyone would be willing or able to take on the package deal I came with.   3.   That relationships were all about hard work, endless hard work.   
    I was so lonely.   I tried to find some middle ground.   I thought that if I had something monogamous with someone but didn’t expect them to take on something that I knew was too difficult that I could have two pieces of a life, even if they weren’t together. Believe me if I could have handled casual sex it would have been a such a relief – just to be held even if the man didn’t love me, even if he didn’t want forever, hell even if he didn’t want anything past one night.   There were times I would have given everything to just let go of all my considerations and feelings and just be different.   
    The dating was so fun.   Those men will never truly know what a gift it was just to spend time with them, to laugh with them, to talk with them.   They treated me so good.
    Near the end of my dating time I did get involved with someone.   He was a good guy but   the “monogamous with no commitment” relationship it did not work. Be careful what you wish for. 🙂
    I didn’t judge women who could enjoy casual sex… I envied them.  

  5. 25

    @ Skaramouche # 11
    You wrote, “Casual sex doesn’t mean only ONS or FB type situations.   To me it means exactly what it says… sex without commitment and expectation.”
    Thank you for that definition.
    @ Karmic Equation # 23
    You wrote, “I fail to see how simply adding the element of ‘casual sex’ into the interaction all of a sudden makes my friends or me, (then you quoted Rose) ‘happy to use a [person’s] body as an object for their own instant self gratification with no regard for the[individual] as a whole person.   That is a selfish attitude.”
    IT DOESN’T!   I do NOT believe that if I had had sex with the men I dated (before I got involved) that they would have done it just for their own pleasure.   They probably would not have “fallen in love” with me but they would have cared, because they did care.   They were good guys, and if I had had casual sex with them they would have remained good guys.

  6. 26

    Amanda says.
    “In my understanding, casual sex means using people for sex.”
    Is also my understanding Amanda. I base my understanding from the above definition.
    Casual sex or hooking up refers to certain types of human sexual activity outside the context of a romantic relationship. The term is not always used consistently: it may refer to extramarital sex, sex in a casual relationship, one-time encounters, promiscuity, or sex in the absence of emotional attachment or love, which can include prostitution and swinging.[1][2]
    Sure sounds like using someones body to me without emotional attachment or love to me. Detaching oneself from the whole person who is a person with emotions and feelings. Therefore compartmentalizing sex.
    If others disagree with the definition than I accept they disagree. I feel happy to agree to disagree as I have no interest in debating and agueing other peoples belief on the definition of casual sex.
    Others are free to believe what they like and choose to do what they like.
    Personally I would have no interest in ticking a casual sex box just to get more dates. This feels manipulative,dishonest and game playing to me. Again if otherw want to do that and they feel ok with it, then do what they like really.
    Like I said before. If Love is what you want, it is my belief that their can be no love without total truth.

  7. 27

    Karmic, if women are happy to enter a friends with benefits relationship, then that is what they are happy with.
    If a woman wants love   romance in a committed realtionship. Having casual sex or agreeing to friends with benefits will not very likely get her what she wants and will just keep getting her exactly that casual uncommitted sex or friends with benefits. They are simply not a match.
    Yes you may hear of the RARE exception that led to romance   love and commitment. But that really is the RARE exception.
    Think we have already had a thread on that where Evan stated as much. Telling women not to have sex until the man wanted to commit to sexclusivity, therefore not having casual sex any more. So he had already reached that point in his life of not wanting to do that anymore.
    If as a woman casual sex is getting you what you want then carry on doing it. If it isn’t then stop. Simple really. If you are happy with it then it’s right for you.

  8. 28

    Rose, et al.: in a mutually “casual sex” situation there’s no “using”–both people get as good as they give.

    1. 28.1

      Totally agree. Casual is casual sex, usually both parties agree to have casual sex so nobody is using anyone.

  9. 29
    Karmic Equation

    Rose 26

    Again, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. You can’t say “sushi is horrible” if you’ve never tasted sushi. Taste it, then say it’s terrible. If you’ve never had casual sex, you’re not qualified to judge it. You can’t judge the people who’ve had it, you can’t say the people are compartmentalizing or using someone for sex, etc. Now if you say YOU, yourself, have had casual sex and this is why and how YOU have casual sex, then by all means say what you want to say. Otherwise, you’re not qualified to talk about casual sex, other than to say you don’t want to do it.

    If sex is such a big deal to you, how can you base an understanding from a DEFINITION, which by the way is flawed. Prostitution does NOT equal casual sex simply because prostititution is ILLEGAL in most places, whereas casual sex is quite legal. Unless you go into some states’ ancient blue laws.

    Absolutes get people in a lot of trouble. If you believe that there can be no love without total truth, would you let men you’re dating know that you post on this blog? And point them to your specific posts on love and sex and all that? You can’t have true love with those men without them knowing the full truth about you, right?

    There are just some things you don’t have to share. Doesn’t mean that you’re being dishonest, it just means some stuff is none of other people’s business.

    As it pertains to casual sex, no one has to tell you directly that they want casual sex, all they have to tell you is that they’re not looking for anything serious. If you don’t have conversations about sexclusivity before having sex, then you’re not sexclusive. It’s simple. But it’s not morally wrong for people to have casual sex. People who have casual sex are NORMAL people, not detached people who feel no emotions for the people they have sex with.

  10. 30

    Karmic. I didn’t say it was horrible. those are your words not mine.
    I can and do say what I like, so to say I can’t say x, y or z is arguing with reality.
    If you believe I am not qualified to talk about casual sex that is your belief not mine. We have different beliefs. I feel happy to agree to disagree as I have no interest in debating and agueing other peoples belief on the definition of casual sex.
    Others are free to believe what they like and choose to do what they like.
    Any man I   chose to have sex with will know before hand my truth about love and sex.
    This conversation is now startling to feel too draining for me, it feels best to me to have conversations that energize rather than drain me. As I have previously stated I do not wish to agrue or debate my beliefs and feel happy to agree to disagree.It now feels best to disengage with you on this topic.

    1. 30.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Rose, instead of disengaging from Karmic, try listening to her. She’s right. Just because you can’t handle sex doesn’t mean casual sex is bad. Just because a man sleeps with a woman without intentions of a future doesn’t mean he’s using her against her will. Just because a man sleeps with a woman on a first date doesn’t mean he’s interested in a relationship. These are facts, not opinions. You’re allowed to conduct your life your way, but please don’t misunderstand or misinterpret reality for the rest of us who CAN have casual sex and are also GOOD people.

  11. 31

    LC #6
    “I have never searched for casual sex…it seems that’s all men are looking for”
    Except for all the married men and men in relationships which is probably, um, most men in the world!
    Tina # 17
    “The only thing I do not agree…’high risk’ doesn’t always mean ‘high reward’.
    Well as Karmic explained the guys who can actually have regular casual sex with attractive women are probably better looking, taller, more articulate etc. than average. These guys fall in love too — that’s the high reward.
    But these guys know their value — and if you’re not up to what he perceives his value is he won’t call you – that’s the high risk.
    Amanda #20
    “In my understanding, casual sex means using people for sex”
    Well according to Skaramouche, Karmic Equation and I, the definition of casual sex is “sex without commitment or expectations”.
    Perhaps it might be useful to change what it means for you?
    “Women typically don’t have sex with men they don’t want to be emotionally close to…just consider for a minute what feeling used feels like”
    I’d say I’ve been the equivalent of “pumped and dumped” (eww) about 15 times. The first time happened when I was  young with no experience: I met a nice girl at a party, we hit it off and had sex within a few hours. We met up once again whereupon she said she really liked me etc. — I had already fallen for her. After that she faded me out and I didn’t see her again for years. I was devastated at the time — did I do something wrong? Was I not good enough? Did I contact her too much / too little? Was I not ‘big’ enough? (obviously wasn’t that ha) etc. I still think of her to this day.
    This happened again about a year later – I met a nice girl, hit it off, had sex then I never heard from her again — she just ignored me. Needless to say I asked myself the same questions but not to the same extent. The third time didn’t hurt as bad and now when it happens I shrug it off with a smile — I know that’s the way the ‘casual’ game works. I’ve done it to women  too. If the hurt was still as bad now as it was the first time, then I would be foolish to put myself in that situation again. It would be on me.
    Upon reflection I know those women didn’t do anything wrong — they never promised to see me again, they never promised me a date or a relationship, they never promised me anything therefore it was up to me to take responsibility for how I felt afterwards. I know for a fact that they are kind and decent women — they just didn’t want to pursue a relationship with me. They just wanted a night or two of fun — that’s not so bad really.
    I think it’s reasonable for you to not partake in casual sex to protect yourself, but I don’t think it’s reasonable for you to think you have superior character to those who do like to indulge in casual sex.
    Lia #24
    You sound like a sweetheart — I wish I could give you a hug.
    Karmic Equation
    Great comments as usual — I wish every woman could understand sex as well as you do.

  12. 32

    Evan most women are not hardwired to compartmentalize or handle casual sex as they get   hormonally   and emotionally attached that’s   biological reality.
    Some can and do but most are not able and if they are honest do not really want to.

  13. 33

    I’m not into casual sex myself, but I definitely disagree that casual sex always means “using someone”. It can be, especially when the someone is a young naive woman who has not been educated on men and relationships, but most of the time both parties know what they are doing, are happy about it, and get their part of the deal. Two people who willingly engage in non-committed sex are no more “using each other for their selfish agenda” than two female friends meeting for coffee and listening to each other venting out on their life problems. We give and take all the time in life and it does not make us selfish. Sex can be the same for some people with integrity, even if it’s not your (and mine) cup of tea.
    I actually need some clarification on this suggestion. Ok, checking off the casual sex box might bring you more attention, hence more dates, hence more possibilities. But can you please clarify if you would recommend still sticking to sexclusivity when the time comes (and hope he falls in love and commit), or would you suggest to the woman who can do it (such as Karmic Equation) to take the additional risk of non-sexclusivity and hope for the best?
    Basically, I’m not sure how far you meant to go with this suggestion. Is what you call “high risk” simply dealing with the attention of more pervs when you check off that box, or also dealing with the consequences of non-exclusive sexual intimacy?

  14. 34


    “Just because you can’t handle sex doesn’t mean casual sex is bad.”
    If both parties involves are happy with it and thinh it’s good for them, Then i completely agree. It’s where   they are mismatched or are being dishonent that it is bad. Feel a bit fed up repeating that one.
    “Just because a man sleeps with a woman without intentions of a future doesn’t mean he’s using her against her will.”
    True it is when he is there is dishonesty about intentions that she then hasn’t really given full consent as she has consented to something that she believed to be different than really was.
    “Just because a man sleeps with a woman on a first date doesn’t mean he’s interested in a relationship. These are facts, not opinions.: I agree.
    You’re allowed to conduct your life your way, but please don’t misunderstand or misinterpret reality for the rest of us who CAN have casual sex and are also GOOD people.
    I don’t think people who are having casual sex are bad people   if they are both fully consenting and honest about it.
    It is when there are lies about it to manipulate play games or coerce etc. That I believe it is harmful and bad.

  15. 35

    Checking off the casual sex box if it is not what you really want is being dishonest to yourself and others.

  16. 36

    Tom10   # 32
    Thank you.
    Fusee #34
    Words of wisdom as always!!  
    @ Evan  
    I too am curious about the answers to the questions Fusee asked.

  17. 37
    Karmic Equation


    I never saw it as a “risk” that I wasn’t in a sexclusive relationship before we had sex. Because the reality is when you lock a guy down to a sexclusive relationship with YOU, you are also locking YOURSELF down from meeting other men. While you may not be sleeping with those other men, you’re also NOT meeting them, and it’s better to keep your options open until you’re confident the guy you’d like to be exclusive with is actually WORTH *YOUR* exclusivity, your relationship-prowess…and HE has offered to claim you (i.e., asks you to be his gf).

    I don’t worry about whether he’s sleeping with someone else, because until he “claims me” (and I’ve decided I want to be claimed) I want to keep MY options open. It’s more important to me to keep MY options open than to prevent him from exercising his.

    This is the part that most women don’t get, if you have options, exercise them until the guy locks YOU down. When you feel compelled to lock HIM down, you’re saying HE’s the prize, not you. At least that’s the way I feel about it.

    And since I feel that way, I act that way, and if a guy really likes me, HE doesn’t want ME exercising MY options, so he starts monopolizing more and more of my time until for all intents and purposes we’re in a relationship. And it was all HIS idea. He won ME away from MY other options. I’m happy with his effort. He’s happy that he’s “won”. Win-win for all.

  18. 38

    This post makes tons of sense. High risk/High reward is definitely accurate. Haven’t seen any other blogs tackle this subject – at least not in this fashion.

  19. 39

    Rose, what if casual sex is what you want while you are looking for something more at the same time. Most sites allow you to check off more than one box. If one checks “dating” and “casual sex” they probably just like to keep their options open while they get to know someone. It is fine if you don’t want that for yourself, but it is not fine to generalize and judge.

  20. 40

    @ Karmic Equation # 38
    I like the way you put that.   Sex is not the prize, you are.   After all sex can happen with a variety of people but there is only one you… or in my case only one me.   You know when I look back I can see that there have been times when I felt I had trapped myself in a relationship just so I could have sex, because I felt I had to be exclusive.   It can be a double edge sword… it cuts both ways.
    You have given me a lot to think about… not the first time. 🙂

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