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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

How to Turn a Casual Fling Into the Real Thing

It’s Monday and you have a coffee date with Steve. Tuesday arrives, and it’s time to have lunch with Paul. On Wednesday, you’re hooking up with Ryan. Thursday rolls around and you’re having a “sleepover” with Alex. Friday comes and you meet a new guy at the bar. You’re texting him all weekend long.

You’ve got yourself a handful of mini dates, hook-ups whenever you want them, and attention all around, but you’re missing out on the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing. It can be hard to juggle multiple guys at once and even harder to say “bye bye” to all but one guy and turn the chosen one into the real deal (especially in college when long-term relationships are almost nonexistent).

Her Campus is here to help you pick and choose which guy is boyfriend material and learn how to replace your one-too-many casual flings with the one real thing. We’ve even talked to the guys themselves to learn what this oh-so-mysterious species thinks (you’re welcome!).

First things first, distinguish between a casual fling and the real thing.

Weigh the good and bad.
There are pros and cons to both: the go-with-the-flow feeling of a casual fling, and the date nights/meet-the-parents moment of the real thing. Flirting and texting is not the same as dating. And neither is drunkenly hooking up on the weekends.

Figure out where you stand.
You can generally figure out where the relationship is heading (or ending) by the way you treat each other. More clearly put, does he only text you late at night? Have you still not met his friends? Then it’s most likely not the real thing.

“Usually I decide whether or not I want to take the next step when we start having heart to hearts and we begin to confide in each other like a real couple. With casual flings, it’s just purely a flirtation-ship, we usually don’t have deep conversations, and I try to keep our relationship as light and unconnected as possible,” says Nicole, a sophomore at the University of California Riverside.

“Getting a feel for the other person, and how that person treats you is important. If you don’t know, just ask!” says Adam, a recent graduate of Illinois State University.

Decide if the “real thing” is truly what you want.
Do you have a super busy schedule? Did you just go through a messy breakup? If so, you might not be ready for the real thing. If you can barely make time to meet a guy for drinks, how do you expect to commit to a serious relationship? Give some time for the initial “can’t get enough of you” feeling to wear off and see if you’re still crushing on the guy. If you can imagine yourself bringing him to family functions and are ready to do fun couple-y things with him (like staying in on a Saturday night and ordering take-out), go get it girl!

Whatever you do, do not act like you’re dating on day one of your casual fling. 
This will freak the guy out and jeopardize the future of your relationship. If you’re texting him 24/7 and always wanting to know what he’s up to from the very beginning, he’s going to feel smothered and you’re not going to get the boyfriend you want. “Go into it without expectations. You can’t put pressure on it. If it’s supposed to turn into the real thing, it will. Just have fun and see what happens!” says Lauren, a senior at the University of Michigan.

Next you have to define “boyfriend” and figure out which guy fits the description. 
Some casual flings are meant to be that and only that, but others have the potential to be more. “If he’s really social and easygoing, you know he’d be good boyfriend material. If he’s really stand-offish and negative, you may want to rethink trying to make him into your next boyfriend,” says Laura, a junior at Virginia Tech. Remember that your idea of a “boyfriend” may be entirely different from your best friend’s. If he’s great in bed but doesn’t have much else to offer, he’s probably not your best bet for the real deal. But if he gets along with your friends and acts interested in you (and not just your body), he may be a potential suitor.



But keep in mind, not all single guys are looking for the real thing.
“Just because he’s single doesn’t mean he’s available. For example, a second semester senior, or someone who’s going to be going abroad in the near future might not be interested in a real relationship, no matter who you are, just because of their circumstances,” says Yussef, a senior at the University of Michigan. 

You could try a direct approach and say, “I want to take our relationship to the next level.”
This is a good tactic to use if you’re a bold girl who wants quick results. “I think the best thing to do is say, ‘I think we should stop seeing each other. You’re awesome, but I’m looking for something a bit more serious right now,’” says Michelle, a junior at Emerson College. If the guy isn’t on the same page as you, walk away.

If you’re more of a show by doing girl, start acting like a girlfriend and not a casual fling and things just might fall into place without having “the talk”.
“Actually care about the guy. Text him and ask how his day is. Be there for him and show him that you are interested. A fling is usually initiated by a guy, but getting more serious I feel like is initiated by the girl,” says Mark, a senior at the University of Michigan. Don’t just sit around and play mind games wondering when he’s going to ask you to be his girlfriend. You have to take action if you want to turn your casual fling into the real thing. Some easy strategies: don’t be available at his convenience, don’t take him for granted, and don’t hook up with other guys.

“If you can be their friend and the person they have a casual fling with, making the transitions to being exclusive and having a real relationship can go pretty smoothly. To this extent, try getting a coffee or two, study with them, or ask for something simple like a ride or a trip to the grocers,” Yussef says.

Do not hook up with him on day one of your casual fling if you want any chance of turning him into the real thing. 
I’m sure you’ve all heard this a million times and I know how hard it is from personal experience, but really – just don’t do it. Waiting is way better than the instant gratification of a hook-up if a relationship is what you want. “You have to make the guy work for it and respect you as an individual before turning the relationship into something more serious,” says Audrey, a graduate of the University of Michigan.

Don’t think that the sex will suddenly disappear in a serious relationship because, chances are, it won’t.
Just don’t give it up too soon. “Yeah, hooking up is great and all, but it doesn’t necessarily build the relationship you’re looking for. You have to find ways to involve a person in your life, and to become involved in theirs,” Yussef says.

Tell the casual flings that didn’t quite make the cut that you are done being their playthings, arm candy, booty calls, entertainment, etc.
“I let casual flings down by slipping into the conversation the name of the guy I see as the real deal. When you start talking about another guy with one of your flings he’ll usually get the clue that you guys are simply flirting and that nothing is going to happen between you two,” Nicole says. As far as what mode of communication to use, you have to look at it on a case-by-case basis.

“Like if it’s just a booty call that texts you every weekend after 2 am, a simple text will suffice,” Laura says. Try not to lead on your casual flings and suddenly disappear without any explanations. You wouldn’t feel great in this situation and neither will he. If you’re ready to be in a more serious relationship and can’t picture him as your future boyfriend, tell him how you feel before fleeing.


It all comes down to you—who YOU want to date, how YOU want to be treated, what YOU want in the real deal. Follow our tips and avoid that awkward moment when Steve sees you out with Paul. We hope this guide helps you collegiettes transform your casual flings into the real thing. Share your own strategies in the comments!

Erica Avesian is a successful young professional in the marketing industry. In her current role, she plans and executes high-end events and marketing projects for a variety of luxury and automotive clients. Erica has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Michigan with specializations in Communication Studies and Writing. She is an experienced writer who loves blogging about her personal experiences as a college girl and writing how-to guides for recent grads. When she's not writing, you can find her styling outfits for her best friends, traveling with her family, and hanging out at her happy place, Starbucks. Erica is obsessed with fashion magazines, Disney, and the color pink. In the future Erica would love to start her own online publication or be the next hit talk show host.