Casual sex and friends-with-benefits relationships are fantastic for so many reasons. Not only are they great ways to keep the sizzle in your sex life, but they’re a terrific approach to sex for people who aren’t ready for a relationship but crave an intimate connection with another person. Sometimes actually keeping things casual over the long haul can be challenging, though.

Getting horizontal with someone is already intimate, but it only becomes more so with repetition. The possibility of catching feelings sooner or later, whether you’re ready for that or not, is very real. It pays to be prepared, though. Here are some tips for keeping feelings at bay so you and your FWB can keep enjoying your sexual connection without complications.

1.      Be honest with yourself.

Honesty is the key to casual sex relationships that are fun and fulfilling without crossing any emotional lines they shouldn’t. Yes, a large part of that means being honest with the other person about your needs, desires, and intentions. However, you also need to be honest with yourself.

Are you an emotional person in general? And if so, is your would-be FWB someone you already care about on a deeper level? Could either of you secretly be expecting something else to come of this? If you can’t honestly answer “no” to those questions, proceed at your own risk.

2.      Put limits on your time together.

Although there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some lively pillow talk after a delicious romp, keep in mind that this isn’t a boyfriend or girlfriend you’re in bed with. Keep proper boundaries intact by limiting your interactions to bedroom activities only.

Don’t linger in bed and have long, emotional conversations while cuddling. Don’t hang out on the couch all evening, catching up on The Mandalorian together. Don’t call them up on a Saturday so you can hit the farmer’s market or the hiking trail together. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of time before one or both of you starts feeling like you’re in a relationship.

3.      Set clear ground rules that you both agree to.

The idea of setting rules and boundaries may seem to go against the very fabric of what casual sex is all about, but this isn’t really the case. You’re not following arbitrary rules set by the rest of society. You and your FWB are developing your own rules custom-created to work for you, so both of you know where you stand.

The rules themselves are up to you, but most people pick options specifically designed to keep from catching feelings and otherwise blurring lines that need to remain nice and clear. Examples include a moratorium on spending the night, no meetups during the day, no exclusivity, and so forth.

4.      Just say “no” to gifts.

Gifts are the type of thing you exchange with people who have meaningful emotional roles in your life, so they should be off the table if you’re serious about not bringing feelings into the mix. Giving (or receiving) gifts implies your relationship is anything but casual.

The only possible exception here would be gifts of a sexual nature, so long as they’re playfully given and solely meant to enhance your sex escapades together. Examples might include adult toys, like the Ultra Wand, sex gear, and so forth.

5.      Compartmentalize your life.

You introduce a serious boyfriend or girlfriend to your friends. You invite them as your “plus one” when you’re on your way to your cousin’s wedding. You bring them along as your guest to your office holiday party and introduce them around to your coworkers. You don’t do these things with a casual sex buddy.

Introducing a casual sex partner to other people in your life is only going to confuse everyone involved. Your partner won’t know where they stand, and your other loved ones aren’t going to know what to make of this new person in your life. Don’t mix and match parts of your life that shouldn’t be merging. Compartmentalization is the key to keeping everything (and everyone) in their proper places.

6.      Keep seeing other people.

The whole point of having casual sex is to keep your options open and avoid the commitments that inevitably come when you’re exclusive. The best way to do this is to keep seeing other people and encourage your FWB to do the same.

Remember, going the casual route is about doing what feels good to you and what makes you happy. Friends-with-benefits relationships are about two people coming together to meet their own needs. The goal is to make yourselves happy, not to make each other happy.

Of course, if you both eventually decide you want more than just casual sex, it’s okay to reevaluate your relationship and switch gears. Otherwise, though, boundaries are the key to keeping things from drifting off course.