What is NSA in Dating? Let Freedom Ring!

Dating 101
16 Apr 2023
6 min read
NSA Relationship - It Works for Some

Today dating can be quite a complicated thing. After all, there are many forms of communication and attachment styles that can make something as simple as hanging out on a date or hook-up of sorts. And NSA (no strings attached) is one example of them. What to do if you’re heading to NSA relationship with your partner?

Let’s take a look at the phrase “no strings attached”. What exactly does it mean? Is it as simple as a friends with benefits sort of relationship or more complicated than that? Here is a breakdown of what NSA means, along with the pros and cons of this type of relationship.

What Does NSA Mean?

Let’s clarify: NSA doesn’t mean National Security Agency and has nothing to do with the collection of foreign intelligence information. In a more figurative sense, NSA, or “no strings attached,” is a relationship in which there are no conditions or restrictions to the relationship. It can also be described as a purely physically intimate relationship without any emotional connection. Essentially, this means you are committed to one another in a physical sense only.

“No-strings-attached connections are sexual in nature with no underlying romantic relationship.”

Indigo Stray Conger, sex therapist

Is There a Difference between NSA and Friends with Benefits?

If simply, no, there is no difference between “NSA relationships” and “Friends with Benefits” terms. In both cases, you and your NSA partner develop a casual and open relationship that focuses more on sex with your partner without any of the emotional limits that a true commitment brings.

The only difference may be the way you start the relationship. Some may claim that NSA is strictly casual, while FWB requires you to actually be friends or have some other form of attached relationship beforehand. However, other than this stipulation, the two kinds of relationship are essentially the same.

Related reading: What Are the Signs Your Friends with Benefits Is Falling for You

Advantages of NSA relationship

Pros of an NSA Relationship

In general, this kind of relationship works best when you are in a good place in life and the only component missing is physical intimacy. Here are a few of other pros that can be found in an NSA relationship.

You can pursue different options

With NSA approach, you are not required to be in a monogamous relationship. Therefore you can keep your options open and have multiple sexual encounters with different people.

You have the freedom that comes with no commitment

One of the biggest stresses that come with dating others is the serious commitment that comes with it. With NSA situations you don’t have to worry about the emotional aspects with the other person and be able to keep everything strictly physical instead.

It can be fun

You can be interested in an NSA arrangement during certain times in their life. This dating style can make be enjoyable when enter a dating site to pursue an open relationship.

Disadvantages of NSA relationship

Cons of an NSA Relationship

When it comes to modern dating, the stress level of our life makes it easy to fall into this the relationship that involves casual sex. However, there are some implications that can be bad for you or the other person you are having sex with.

You may have unrequited feelings

In NSA relationship, the danger of developing feelings that will not be returned is real. Many who go about this type of connection believe they will be ok with it happening. But after the relationship starts becoming more serious, they may realize they may have a change of heart.

After all, in any form of close contact relationship, emotions can run high. By putting yourself in no strings attached relationship, you risk facing a situation that involves a lot of heartache.

Related reading: What Are the Symptoms of Soul Ties?

It could prevent you from pursuing an actual relationship

This is another downside to NSA relationship. In a no strings attached arrangement, you may find it difficult to focus on a more serious relationship. Even with the option of using online dating sites, it can make a real commitment between two people difficult.

You risk a lot when you choose to have sex with a friend

Going for NSA stands can make it incredibly difficult for you to simply remain friends. Remember that when it comes to any relationship that focuses on just sex, you will risk your connection to the other person.

“In order to have a great friendship, there must be a strong connection. And the same applies for having a great romantic relationship. Both dynamics involve checking in on each other, showing up for each other, and getting to know deeper parts of one another.”

Dr. Jenn Mann, psychotherapist

When you are in an NSA relationship that focuses much more on casual sexual encounters, not just hurt feelings may occur. There can be mental and emotional health risks, illnesses and the potential for pregnancy as well. While the relationship may seem to be fun in the beginning, over time you can lack the safety that comes with the romantic relationship between two partners. As a result, you may find yourself feeling as if you had been used, or that you and your feelings are unimportant.

NSA dating style works well if no hard feelings are involved. But while it may seem like fun, not everyone can thrive in an NSA arrangement in a long run.

What Can You Expect If You Enter an NSA Relationship?

When you get into a no strings attached relationship, there are a few things that you can expect:

  • Don’t be surprised to see “sugar daddy” and “sugar baby” terms on the profiles. On dating sites, those are also people looking into a no strings attached relationship.
  • Always remember that these relationships rely mainly on having casual sex.
  • Just because someone is interested in having sex with you, this does not mean they are interested in dating, serious relationship, or other things.
  • You may have to be open with your potential partners and willing to be with someone else.
  • A no strings attached relationship style may need you to be able to look past your emotions and let go of the idea of a committed relationship.

How Do You Know If NSA Relationships Are Right for You?

A no strings attached relationship will best suit those who are in a good social and mental life position in which the only thing missing is sex. These relationships allow you to keep your social and work calendar wide open and pursue the physical benefits of relationships without the emotional aspects of it.

Find yourself in a position where you have excellent mental and emotional health, as well as a healthy work and everyday lifestyle. NSA relationships may work excellently for you.

When you want no strings attached

What to Do If You Want to Seek Out an NSA Relationship?

Create a set of rules

In a no strings attached relationship, a strict set of rules will keep both yourself and your potential partners safe. This can be as simple as certain titles you’re comfortable with, like “sugar daddy” or “sugar baby” terms. You can also discuss what to do if the condom breaks during sex and/or unexpected pregnancy or disease happens. These rules may have to be updated on a regular basis.

Get tested for STDs and STIs consistently

Remember that in this type of relationship you may never know what is truly going on with the people you have sex with. Therefore, if you casually have sex with your friend or other people on a regular basis, it’s in your best interest to be tested regularly for these types of diseases.

Remain honest

While there should be no feelings attached to a no strings attached relationship, this does not mean that you have a pass to be dubious or dishonest with the other person or people you are casually seeing. Be honest with them about anything that happens or changes for you and the relationship that you find yourself in.

No Strings Attached movie quote

What Should You Do If You Develop Feelings for Your Sexual Partner?

Keeping your affections away from an NSA relationship can be easy. However, you may face the same predicament as the characters Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in the movie “No Strings Attached”. And then, you may start to develop affection for one another.

If it’s hard for you to navigate through this scenario, here are a couple of tips on what to do:

  • Be open and honest about how you feel. This may lead to some awkwardness and even result in the two of you taking a break from one another. However, if you hide how you feel, it can lead to some stress and bitterness later on.
  • Never expect them to return your affection. Some may simply want to retain a friendship level with you, so you need to respect that and your feelings at the same time.
  • Accept what happens. They may choose to break things off with you completely to avoid the awkwardness. Or you may end up with a committed partner at the end of the day. In any case, the best thing to do is simply accept what has happened and move on.

It’s Up to You to Decide If You Want NSA

An NSA relationship can be a great idea for those who truly do not want emotional and/or romantic entanglements but certainly want sex. While working this way, it can be fun, cover your needs, and have other pros and cons. However, it cannot work under the “rules” of a serious relationship if you both aren’t emotionally ready for the change. So just be certain you and your sex partner can do this before you take the plunge.

Relationships Author
Geoffrey Williams
After taking a required Intro to Psychology course as an undergrad, I have never looked back. Since my doctoral program, I have specialized in adult relationship therapy. Through my studies and clinicals, I wrote several articles for professional journals and currently in the midst of writing a book.

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