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10 Signs Your Relationship Is Just A Fling & Nothing More

by Jessica

Does he quickly pull away when you try to hold his hand while walking out of his dorm? Or does she ‘forget’ to call you back all too often? Do you find yourself at the receiving end of one too many phone calls with ‘impromptu’ or ‘spontaneous’ plans – almost like as if you were an afterthought? Or worse, a backup plan? Oh, and the scariest one – their friends know absolutely nothing about you. If these examples seem all too familiar in your ‘relationship’ (yes, unfortunately those air quotes belong there), then it’s possible that you are in a fling relationship and you don’t even know it. 

As annoying and confusing as it may be, it is in fact all too common to land up in a relationship where the expectations between two people are completely mismatched. With all the great sex and the excitement of this new dalliance, your “What are we?” question seems to get lost in the chaos. 

And so, when the high of the honeymoon stage wears off, the result of that is a horrible confusion. What stings the most is when you actually realize that you were far more invested in this relationship than they were. That when you two were sitting under the stars and searching for constellations, he was actually texting another girl back. That when she said she could only make it to the coffee shop for an hour to see you, it’s because she had to leave quickly to go and see her ex. 

What Is A Fling Relationship?

Fling relationships are a good alternative if:

  • You’ve just come out of a nasty breakup 
  • You want a relationship where there is a lack of emotional connection and attachment
  • You don’t believe in monogamy and want to date multiple people at the same time
  • You want to rely on someone but are afraid of commitment 
  • You just want to have a sexual relationship with someone

With the help of such hookups and short romantic liaisons, your loneliness is extinguished and you will be ready to move on from your past relationship. There is a big difference between having a passionate relationship with someone and having holiday flings with someone. The former is a serious relationship where commitment could be present or absent.

Whereas, this kind of relationship is sort of like a causal relationship that lasts for a brief period of time. It’s about involving sex without a commitment. These short-term flings are purely physical and it’s not a major red flag because both the people involved will be aware of this. If either of the partners develops one-sided feelings for the other and doesn’t follow the ground rules established before the start of this holiday fling, things could take a drastic turn. 

People involved in a casual relationship like this usually end up becoming food friends. It feels comfortable to talk to them about your likes and dislikes. Sometimes, they have similar interests that they explore after hookups. It’s quite rare to find true love in such short-term relationships. If you are someone who has a fear of commitment and wants only a fling to invest time in, here are some reasons why it’ll be good for you:

  • You can establish fling relationship rules that are convenient for you and your partner without adding the element of “exclusive dating”
  • It can be stress-relieving to have someone to be intimate with. Research supports this theory. It was found that stressful days increased the probability of having sex on a subsequent day, and that sexual intercourse relieved stress for both men and women 
  • You can experiment in bed with the consent of the other partner
  • You can also have one-night stands with someone else while still continuing this short romantic liaison with your fling partner 

10 Signs You Are In A Fling Relationship

There’s nothing wrong with the concept of fling dating as long as there’s an understanding between both people involved. In fact, sometimes when people have just gotten out of long and serious relationships, they choose to try a casual relationship for a change of pace and to take their mind off things. 

As convenient as that may sound, having a fling can have disastrous consequences too if you realize all too late that the two of you were never on the same page and were actually fling dating. As much as one wants to run from the conversation of commitment, boundaries and expectations – it is absolutely essential and even more so, when you see someone casually. 

So if you think your partner has been dilly-dallying in their behavior or you keep sensing there’s something off, it’s probably because they were just having a fling all along. But you never picked up on it before because you were just too smitten. To avoid this from happening to you, here are 10 signs of a short-term fling that you can use to judge your own. 

Related Reading: Casual Sex Is Great As Long As You Treat it Casually

1. They push and pull you 

Now it may or may not be as serious as the problems of a push-pull relationship, but in a casual fling your partner will sometimes be too hot and sometimes way too cold. This inconsistency in their interactions with you comes from a deep confusion within them with regards to their own feelings about you. 

On the one hand, they probably love your company. But on the other hand, they are too scared of falling in love or crossing the line of a summer fling over to the other side. Is it a long-term relationship with communication problems or only a fling? They are probably too confused to answer this question themselves. But this still leaves you in limbo. Suffice to say that the answer to your question, “Is it just a fling?”, is still a hard “Yes”.  

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2. It’s all about sex

If you’re having great sex in this relationship that is intimate, raw, and real – there is still a good chance that you are in a purely physical relationship. As amazing as the physical chemistry might be, think about what the two of you do after it. Here are some pointers you need to assess if you want to know what kind of a relationship you are in:

  • Does he often just zip up and walk off? Or does she just quickly hop off and then glom onto her phone the moment that the deed is done?
  • Do you spend time with one another doing other couple activities like doing household chores together and getting grocery?
  • The two of you have never had deep conversation topics and tried to get to know each other in a better way
  • Neither of you is emotionally invested and don’t know anything about each other’s insecurities, dreams, fears, and phobias
  • Neither of you sees serious commitment potential in this relationship and just wants to let things be superficial

If one really wants it to be, sex can be a massive experience in bringing two people closer together over and over again. But if you feel like there’s a lack of emotionality in your sex life or even a sweet round of post-sex cuddling in your relationship, then you may just be involved in a casual fling. 

3. You are not on their social media 

Billy Kitzhaber had been going out with Nora Stein for a couple months. The two never really had a conversation about exclusivity but since things were going so well, Billy assumed that they were. This is until he asked Nora why she never posted a picture with him even though she has photos with her exes on her Instagram page. Nora said, “We’re just having a fling Billy, you’re not my real boyfriend yet.”

Now we don’t mean that you need to start doubting your partner, because they’ve never posted about you – some people just don’t use social media in a generic way – but something like this does raise a question along the lines of, “Is it just a fling?”

4. They never discuss the future with you

Future talks are common when you are with someone you truly love and see spending your life with. Let’s take a look if this is just a passing cloud or whether this relationship is super important to the two of you: Are they happy to discuss what you two are doing tomorrow night? Absolutely. It doesn’t take them long to decide whose house you’re hanging out in after work tomorrow. But when it comes to discussing your relationship in the next year or even as soon as six months down the line – they seem to freeze and lose their ground completely. 

This is not because they don’t like you. It’s only because they are not seeing you as seriously as you may be seeing them. Which is why, considering a future with you in it, is something that barely passed their mind. In this casual fling, all that matters is the fun and excitement of seeing you the next day.

Related Reading: Dating For Marriage? 15 Important Things You Should Be Prepared For

5. You’ve never really met their friends or family 

Carla Wescott had been seeing Jason Breibeck for a while. She had never met his friends or family, but since she wanted to take things slow, she never pressed Jason about the same. That is until she ran into Jason and his college buddies at a bar near her house. That’s when she learned that Jason’s friends didn’t even have any idea who she was! 

Some more signs that indicate you are just one of their holiday flings include:

  • They still use dating apps to hookup with people
  • They are still visibly hurt from their last relationship but they are trying to numb their feelings by hanging out with more partners
  • You have similar interests but you’ve never explored them together
  • You see each other as good friends

Is this a relationship or a fling? Time to seriously ask yourself this question. If they run at the thought of introducing you to the other people in their life, it’s clearly because they don’t see themselves that close to you. Out of all the types of relationships, it’s only a fun and casual one from their side.

infographic on signs your relationship is just a fling
Signs your relationship is just a fling

6. When fling dating, there’s not a lot of PDA 

Not that public displays of affection are a yardstick to judge whether these successful relationships are real and healthy or they are just acts of deception. However, when two people are actually in love, it definitely shows. And sometimes in the form of indulging in PDA. Forehead kisses, hand holding, random hugs, arms around each other’s waists – you name it.

So if you’re wondering whether your relationship is just a timepass or something beyond a casual relationship, think about how often you two are close in public. Do you rarely ever meet up in public? Is it just easier to hang out at the other person’s house? They don’t admire you in public simply because it does not come naturally to them. She or he’ll wait to get home to show affection. This is a clear sign that you are just casually dating.

7. You have been making all the plans and check-ins 

From deciding where you two head to dinner to being the one that checks up on them when they are sick, think about whether they have ever done any of those things for you. That is reason enough to rethink whether your relationship is casual or something more. To show someone you care, staying in touch with them regularly, are just some of the very basic things one does in a real relationship. 

But if that is uncommon in yours, you have all the right reasons to raise your, “Is it just expensive dinner dates and nothing beyond that?” question. If your partner had been as invested as you, then you wouldn’t be the one double texting them all the time only for them to respond to you seven hours later.

8. They never prioritize you 

When you’re having a fling, the person you are seeing is essential to you, but not really important. And this reveals itself in a lot of ways like when a guy cancels a date because of another commitment. Perhaps they were supposed to meet you for brunch but an ‘emergency’ came up and they had to cancel. Or any other reasons they keep coming up with to blow you off again and again. 

A work emergency, taking their dog out, babysitting their cousin, or anything else under the sun. It seems like everything else in their life matters more than you do. Furthermore, they never make eye contact with you. This is not a feeling that you can just sit on while you let it happen to you. So it’s time you adjust your lens similarly. 

stories on couple dynamics and more

9. They hardly make an effort to get to know you 

Sylvia, a 26-year-old nurse from Michigan says, “My former boyfriend moved heaven and earth to make the relationship work. The person I am seeing right now barely lifts his finger. It’s always last-minute plans with him.”

Knowing that you like to dim the lights when having sex does not count. What we mean is that they hardly make an effort in getting to know a deeper side of you. Your past relationships, experiences or stories, are of no real value to them. Their goal is to have fun with you and as long as they get to do that, then other things don’t matter. So think again – is this just a short-lived romance or something more?

When Sylvia would go on dates with Cole, they’d order a couple rounds of drinks and engage in a fun conversation. But Cole never seemed to scratch beneath the surface and ask Sylvia a real question. And a couple weeks into dating, Sylvia realized that Cole did not even know the name of her dog. Now to a dog lover, that is straight up rude and a rather telling sign of disinterest.

Related Reading: How Long Does A Crush Last And 11 Ways To Get Over It

10. They seem to mention other people in their life when fling dating 

If things like, “My coworker Jody…”, or “My ex Nerissa…”, are often peppered into their conversations with you, are you sure you are the only person in their life? Because you need to seriously think hard  about whether this is a relationship or a fling. If they casually mention their exes or any other encounters that could possibly be dates, then it’s time to assess whether you are banking solely on a sexual relationship or not. 

Fling dating means that they probably are seeing multiple people. So keep an eye out for cues that help you confirm the same. Is he getting frequent texts from another different girl? Or is she constantly talking about the new guy that’s moved in next door? 

Key Pointers

  • Fling dating is nothing serious. It’s mostly sexual and spending time together because two people like each other’s company
  • One of the signs you are in a short-term summer fling with someone is when they haven’t introduced you to their friends and family even after being together for more than 6 months
  • It’s purely physical when neither of you opens up about each other’s vulnerabilities and doesn’t indulge in PDA
  • They won’t prioritize you and won’t make any effort to keep the relationship healthy 

It’s natural to mistake a growing attachment to someone as a serious relationship only to realize that there’s not much future there. So don’t blame yourself or feel disheartened if this has happened with you and you’ve stumbled into such a relationship. Just make sure that the next time, you can better decide for yourself how you want to take things.

This article has been updated in March, 2023.


1. Can a fling turn into a relationship?

Sure it can. If, with time, the love blossoms, then it is possible that you can stop worrying if it is just meaningless hookups or something more. Love can strike at any time. So there’s always that possibility! 

2. What is a casual fling?

A casual fling is sort of no strings attached situation where you both primarily meet up for sex but don’t really do the other regular things that people do in a relationship. It’s mainly a short, sexual relationship and one where you are also allowed to see other people at the same time. 

3. What does ‘a fling with someone’ mean?

A fling with someone means that you do interact with them (mostly sexually) but not in the traditional ‘dating’ sense. There’s not a lot of love or future plans involved in your relationship. It’s a short stint where you two have fun and sex, and leave the emotions out of it. 

4. How long is a fling relationship?

Fling relationships last only a short while. It can be about 3 months to a year until they’ve moved on from their past relationship an are ready to date someone else. It can end sooner than a year if either of them falls in love with the other.

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