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What is an NSA Relationship? Definition, Signs, Benefits, Challenges, and Everything Else

What is an NSA Relationship? Definition, Signs, Benefits, Challenges, and Everything Else

Updated on May 27, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

NSA Relationship - Definition, Signs, Benefits, Challenges, and More

Do you want to try an NSA relationship? Want sex without commitments and wondering how NSA relationships work in reality?

Of course, why else will you be here? And I’ve prepared everything you need for an NSA relationship in this think-piece. 

Whether it’s about how to keep the strings unattached or how to safely have an NSA, you’ll know it all. Also, did I congratulate you on your bravery to seek what you truly need?

Most people ditch their sexual desires pondering on what society or their friends and family expect from them. 

Or, commit to someone out of pressure when they’re emotionally burnt out. It only leads to the beginning of an unhealthy relationship.

Can’t wait to fulfill your desires?

Hop on to reach the sea of desires…

No Strings Attached Relationship Infographics

No Strings Attached (NSA) Relationship - Definition, Signs & Rules
No Strings Attached (NSA) Relationship – Definition, Signs & Rules
No Strings Attached (NSA) Relationship - Benefits & Challenges
No Strings Attached (NSA) Relationship – Benefits & Challenges

What is NSA Relationship? (NSA relationship meaning)

A no strings attached (NSA) relationship is an arrangement where two people engage in casual sex without any intentions of emotional attachment.

The term “no strings attached relationship” defines a relationship between two people solely for physical pleasure.

The term no strings attached (NSA) implies that there won’t be any promise or expectation of staying faithful to each other between the NSA partners and nobody will express any romantic gesture either.

These are casual relationships where you find a sexual partner in someone minus the romantic relationship. Some people refer to an NSA relationship as a “friends with benefits” relationship.

However, it doesn’t always need to be an old friend, it can be an acquaintance too. Moreover, it’s better if it isn’t a friend because you don’t want any kind of emotional attachment.

If you find someone with similar views on relationships and good sexual compatibility, you’re good to begin your NSA relationship… and eventually, you befriend them or not, depending on your desires.

When you don’t want to be emotionally bound, but desire a sexual relationship, NSA relationships promise you that casual sex.

Also, it’s great only as long as you have a casual relationship from both ends. The moment either of you develops feelings and want to turn them into a romantic relationship, things go haywire.

Wanna know if NSA is for you? Let’s learn…

Signs you should try NSA Relationship

Before you jump into an NSA relationship and regret later because you developed feelings but they didn’t… evaluate if you’re really ready for NSA. 

After all, what’s the point in beginning something because it’s trendy, or because your crush practices it and comes out of it broken-hearted?

Let’s honestly check if you relate to these signs…

1. Commitment is the last thing on your mind

Perhaps you can’t spare enough time or energy for a real relationship in your life. 

You might be too preoccupied with your current concerns in your life and feel emotions will only get in the way.

Or, you didn’t meet the one of your life, but want to satisfy your sexual desires despite a committed relationship… then NSA is your type of relationship.

2. You’re aware of your desires

Everyone doesn’t want to fall in love, have romantic dates, pillow-talk, or even cuddle. 

If you’re on the same boat and feel like having sex without any emotional intimacy, that’s your sign to be a perfect NSA partner.

However, NSA arrangement isn’t suitable for all because they can’t differ between sex and intimacy. And some even need intimacy to have sex. So, think more about your true desires.

3. You’re crystal clear in relationships

In your past relationships, how honest were you with your partners? Did you state white and black separately or did you beat around the bush?

Whether it’s an NSA arrangement or a long-term one, honesty is important to sustain both. However, the importance of honesty is higher in NSA.

Suppose, you began NSA but believe that with enough time and emotions you’ll crack the nut and live your happily-ever-after.

That’s the wrong approach, emotions and NSA don’t work together. If someone says they want an NSA arrangement, then it must be NSA, nothing more.

4. Different kind of relationship attracts you

If you experienced regular committed relationships yet felt sexually unsatisfied, talk with your partner.

If your romantic partner consents to open relationships without any emotional string attached… that’s your signal for an NSA arrangement.

Perhaps having one or more NSA partners will satisfy your desires and make you feel more content.

Also, never ignore such discussions if you need more partners. Hiding your emotions will destroy your romantic bonding in the long run.

5. Sexual health is your priority

In NSA relationships, you only hook up and have no say in the other person’s life. So, each of you can have multiple partners at once.

In this kind of relationship, sexual health takes a major role, so communicate about that before beginning the relationship.

If you’re willing to talk about the kind of birth controls and protections you’ll use, share your STI status with each other, and have regular check-ins about it, that’s another sign you’re ready for an NSA relationship.

Before you begin an NSA relationship, gotta learn to stay in your lane with…

NSA Relationship Rules

NSA relationships are quite tricky and hard to manage because how you behave with your NSA partner will depend on your “emotional” status.  

If they see you going against a natural NSA rule, they’ll rethink the arrangement. 

Also, there’s a risk of hurting yourself emotionally or physically so some restrictions for pleasure are worth it. 

Let’s dive into the land of pleasure…

1. Build emotional boundaries for stable NSA

Imagine what you or usually anyone desires in a relationship.

Emotional bonding while you share your life deets, connect online, share your day’s events, cuddle, pillow-talk, hang out even when you don’t have sex… all of these are a no-no in NSAs because that’s the definition of NSA.

If you attach the strings, develop feelings, seek them out for emotional bonding while they don’t… that’s a whole mess out there.

2. And the sexual ones too

Next, decide what you wanna try in bed or don’t… honestly figure out your comfort with various sexual acts, positions, toys, and whatever’s on your mind.

If you thought you’ll be forced into uncomfortable things in a sex-only relationship, you’re wrong. So, whenever something seems off in the arrangement, speak out.

Even if you agreed to do things but later found them uncomfortable, tell them. The goal is finding sexual satisfaction, not torturing yourself.

3. It’s not for friends

Many people think friends with benefits (FWB) and NSA are one and the same… but in FWB, you were friends so there’s a platonic intimacy in your relationship.

And obviously, friends can fall for each other and ruin the entire NSA arrangement. So, to sustain an NSA, better not choose a friend for it.

NSA is a straightforward relationship, you state your sexual desires, your boundaries, have satisfying sex, and continue with your life.

In friendship, you stay in touch way past having sex, are on each other’s mind, and sometimes also fall for each other… which will break the NSA and your friendship. 

If you have a common circle, things get even more awkward.

4. List possible NSA partners wisely

Just like friends, there are more people you mustn’t tangle with for an NSA.

For instance, your crush, ex, coworkers, someone’s spouse (or any committed person), or even a friend’s crush… cross them out.

An NSA with either on this list will result in feelings or complicate your situation. That’s not the mantra of an NSA, rather seek people who aren’t even integrated into your surroundings.

Wonder how your friend will feel if they found out about your and their crush’s relationship… it’ll mess up existing relationships.

Keep away from messy situations, look for acquaintances or even seek strangers you feel sexual tension with.

5. “NSA relationship” is an oxymoron

The terms no-strings-attached and relationships are two completely opposite words. A relationship binds you in some way. 

However, NSA arrangements are free of bounds and commitments, you’re not answerable to anyone… as long as you don’t promise otherwise.

In fact, NSA is all about great sex without emotional entanglement. You’re also free to date other people… so it’s also a type of sexual nonmonogamy.

So if you fall in love with your NSA partner, not only will they reject you, but also break off the NSA arrangement. After all, the term “relationship” is a namesake.

6. Be open to changing perceptions

An NSA arrangement can change your mind in two ways… you either feel NSA is the best thing that ever happened to you, or restore your faith in committed relationships and want marriage.

Your perception can change either way so don’t feel overwhelmed. Rather, know what your body and mind desire as the relationship continues.

If at any moment you feel NSA isn’t your cup of tea, call it off, don’t feel scared or ashamed that you engaged in sexual relationships without emotions.

NSA helps your personal growth, so never second-guess your choice.

7. Remove the fuzz beforehand

Some people believe sex builds intimacy and begin NSA relationships thinking they’ll find true love. Get this fact straight, NSA has nothing to do with your love life.

Your NSA partner will never have feelings for you. If you intend to have a romantic relationship, don’t consider it. Begin your NSA with clear intentions.

Don’t hop into an NSA with your crush hoping for a fruitful relationship out of it. That will only hurt you and leave you emotionally drained.

8. Never worry about your sexual appetite

The sole reason behind an NSA relationship is to satisfy your sexual drive.

Whether you’re in a committed relationship or not, you dive into an NSA because you as a human being have carnal desires and need to satiate yourself.

In real relationships, your partner’s thoughts about your needs might bother you, however, NSA isn’t the same. Be honest about what you need in the bedroom… or rather any room.

NSA is the solution to unleash your inner beast so never shy away from your reality. It’s a no-judgment zone for your sexual hunger.

9. Prioritize your convenience

If you begin a full-blown committed relationship, you need to invest a lot of time to grow the relationship. However, in NSA, your convenience comes first.

Suppose, you don’t feel like hitting them up after a long tiring week, that’s okay… laze around as you desire.

Or, you want to release your pent-up sexual energy, find your NSA partner’s availability and satiate yourself. Be as selfish as possible because you’ll never find such perks in committed relationships.

However, convenience works both ways, that’s why people consider having multiple NSA partners to satisfy themselves even when one partner isn’t available.

10. Emotions show you the way out

Since NSA relationships are only about physical pleasure, if you hint them about any kind of attachment, that’s your sign to sign off from this relationship.

As long as you keep your guard up and prevent any feelings, that’s good for you.

However, things get messy with feelings, and breaking off the arrangement is the best way to avoid that.

11. But plan something better

Feelings do imply the end of your relationship but don’t ghost them. Create a proper backup plan about how you’ll disclose the situation to your NSA partner to call off things.

Also, since emotions are involved, talking it out will help you get over your feelings for them. You won’t regret not confessing either.

12. Spot your attachment issues

Though you seek NSA for sexual pleasure without emotional chaos, sometimes it does get chaotic… and feelings don’t listen to anybody.

For instance, you have great sex and love your current situation. You feel satisfied and like things as they are. However, if your NSA partner wants to start dating, they’ll want to end things.

How do you feel about it?

If you feel distressed or possessive, you might have attachment issues. In such conditions, beginning an NSA isn’t a good idea. Seek therapy and heal yourself before the NSA.

13. Discuss safe sex practices

Whether you guys have multiple NSA partners or not, always prioritize your protection.

Discuss what kind of contraceptives you’ll use – male/female condoms, birth control, dental dams, etc.

Spill your sexual activity with current and previous partners, what kinds of protections you did or did not use, and schedule regular STI testing.

Don’t take the arrangement to bed before you know about each other’s history well because your sexual health is in question.

14. Keep loved ones out of the equation

Your NSA relationship is no more than a business deal – give and take pleasure and walk out.

So, never involve your or their friends or family in this. Don’t join their family parties or friends’ hikes.

Stay as detached from each other’s life as possible. Many people look down on any type of attachment-free relationship, so the less you mix with each other’s world, the better.

15. Have multiple partners

This completely depends on your comfort, but it’s a possibility. 

If you desire more partners, you are free to do so. You don’t need permission from your NSA partner, just let them know that you added another sexual partner.

If you’re in a romantic relationship that is open to NSA, take their consent before you add another NSA partner.

Also, having multiple partners can keep your emotions on track and prevent developing feelings because “All of them are NSA partners and there’s no exclusivity.”

16. Never stay the night

Never ever sleep – like really sleep – with NSA partners. After sex, feel-good hormones secrete in your body, and that can trick your mind into thinking you have feelings for the other person.

Sounds tricky, but that’s possible. Once you’re spent after the fun, you’ll pillow-talk and attach strings.

If you’re too tired or are too far from your home, crash at a friend’s place, or book a hotel. Make sure you grab all of your stuff before leaving so that you don’t visit them without business.

17. Don’t let them pry in

Even if it was just small talk, whenever your NSA partner asks you that has nothing to do with the bedroom and the itch down there, refuse.

Or, perhaps you can’t focus on the fun because of some preoccupied issue in your head. It’s natural your NSA partner will ask what’s up. Don’t engage in such discussions.

Also, if your NSA partner develops feelings for you, they’ll always seek opportunities to know more, spend more time with you.

Deny such advances because it’ll hurt them in the long run, or you might be the one to have feelings later.

18. Lower your expectations

Suppose this one time you really want it but your NSA partner is out of town. Will you sulk? Sulking is also an emotional response, you can’t allow that in an NSA setting.

Never expect your NSA partner to make ends meet for your sake because there are no commitments or feelings.

Never expect to have sex on their birthday… they might have prior engagements that day.

Expectations trigger emotions so keep it low to uproot any feelings.

19. Don’t connect online

Even if you’re connected on social media, hide your posts from your NSA partner, and never tag them in any post.

Never post a picture of the room you two shared, because what if they do the same and people find out?

You might not care even if people find out but scrape off any possible trouble with this preventive measure. People don’t need to know what you do in your bedroom.

20. Keep hush about each other

Prioritize this conversation before you engage in an NSA relationship. You both had great sex and then you brag about it to your best friend…? Is that safe for your professional or social life?

Taking a wild assumption, your circle contains their family member, friend, a prospective partner, or even a co-worker… you show them the picture of your NSA partner. What happens then?

In this world, reputation, social life, job security, and feelings are very fragile. Let’s not mess up each other’s life and stay in your own lane.

Also never take pictures together or share solos with each other for added assurance.

Curious why NSA is in rage nowadays? Of course, you are, learn why from…

NSA Relationship Benefits

NSA relationships are beneficial when you don’t desire any kind of emotional support from your partner and you’re sure you only need sexual pleasure.

Knowing what you want is really great as it can make you feel more fulfilled and happy in life. So let’s quickly know how much better an NSA can get…

1. Nothing binds you

If you love to satisfy your sexual urges, NSA relationships can give you everything you need without feeling guilty about your lack of commitment.

For instance, you’re not ready to bind your soul, mind, and body to one person, NSA is your answer.

On the other hand, in committed relationships, you need to bond emotionally and take responsibility for your partner’s feelings even after sex. 

Real relationships have problems and entanglement with each other’s loved ones and assuring each other your love. NSA can help you get rid of these issues.

2. You explore life with freedom

Imagine being in a committed relationship and asking consent from your partner about ethical non-monogamy (ENM).

Such conversations are scary, sensitive, and you don’t always fulfill your desires. Sometimes you even have to decide between ENM and your current partner… it never brings good feelings.

However, with the NSA alone, you’re not answerable to anyone.

You can follow nonmonogamy to your heart’s content without feeling guilty of leaving someone or unintentionally breaking a romantic partner’s boundaries.

3. You have unlimited sexual fun

Committed relationships have sexual fun too, however, there are too many restrictions and boundaries.

Imagine yourself living with one person having the same or handful kind of sexual acts. You’re holding back from pleasure because some things are off-limits for your partner.

However, NSA relationships revolve around sexual compatibility. You have a higher chance of satiating your carnal desires in an NSA.

Moreover, if one NSA partner can’t satisfy your desires, find out another.  No need to compromise with your sexual hunger.

4. You have the right to be selfish

In committed relationships, you can’t be selfish. You’re responsible for your partner’s feelings, emotions, comfort, and even confidence… It’s a mutual connection.

However, NSA arrangements allow you to think about yourself.

For instance, you can have your favorite sex position, make engagements when you’re free… and you can prioritize only yourself without being guilty about the other person.

Commitment requires compromise which leads to many disappointments. You can’t just come and go from a committed relationship after sex, they’ll hold on to you for emotional bonding.

5. You explore sex without judgment

Everyone has their own kind of kink and there’s nothing to feel ashamed of. In emotionally entangled relationships, your partner might pass unnecessary remarks about your kinks.

Perhaps, you’re into BDSM, and they’re not… they might try to talk you out of it, demotivate you with its drawbacks, and of course, you never get that BDSM play either.

In NSA, nothing stops you from fulfilling desires when you have a willing NSA partner.

If your NSA partner judges your likes, walk out and engage with someone who shares the same interest.

But like every relationship out there, NSA has its fair share of …

NSA Relationship Challenges

Though NSA isn’t a real relationship, it does come with its set of pros and cons. And the main issue is because it’s not a relationship. 


Well, mostly, emotions and feelings ruin an NSA arrangement… but don’t just assume it’s all about falling in love. 

Come on, let’s quickly clear the haze…

1. You might catch feelings

In NSA relationships, you fall prey to catching feelings for your partner. But the worst part is when your partner doesn’t want a romantic relationship.

Initially, everyone swears about not liking romance, but some people do develop feelings from sex itself.

Blame it on your brain for confusing your intentions with the feel-good hormones.

However, it hurts when the object of your affections doesn’t return your feelings. If you’re not careful enough, NSA will introduce you to much heartbreak.

2. It hinders real relationships

While in an NSA, you focus mainly on casual sex and fulfilling your desires, you forget about the charm of commitment.

Perhaps, as you invest time for your NSA, you miss out on many chances of meeting someone worthy of yourself. You lose chances of creating deeper emotional connections.

Also, NSA can warp your beliefs about committed relationships. However, committed relationships are important for the long run and NSA is good only as long as you have your sexual desires.

3. It might hurt your wellness

Bonding with too many people sexually increases your chance of getting STIs when you’re not aware of proper safety measurements.

Also, due to the lack of commitment and variety in bed, you don’t catch on to the issues of NSA. Only after ending the relationship do you notice the issues.

It might be a physical issue due to lack of safety during a sexual encounter, or even an emotional scar due to lack of intimacy in the relationship.

4. It might stir the green in your eyes

Thinking “How will I be jealous in an NSA setting?”

Well, in NSA you’re entitled to have as many partners as each of you want, but out of them all, there will be someone you’re most compatible with.

However, if that person has other partners and commitments, or they feel higher compatibility with someone else… you’ll feel jealous.

In this situation you can’t even claim more time from them because you’re not supposed to feel anything… At most your partner will call off the arrangement because of your jealousy.

NSA is a painful arrangement if you have a preference among your partners.

5. You can’t move on to traditional relationships

Suppose you enjoy your NSA now, then sometime in the future you decide to seriously date people… you’ll realize that you don’t value exclusivity anymore.

Perhaps it isn’t intentional and you only behave that way because you were used to different dynamics until then.

For instance, usually, you don’t cuddle in NSA, but that’s important in romantic relationships. You’ll feel uncomfortable sticking to someone or emotionally bonding with them.

Your partner WILL take offense if you always reject emotional intimacy and question your intentions in the relationship.

6. They’ll leave you behind sooner or later

NSAs aren’t long-term things, you or the other person will move on from it at some point. When you leave, you don’t have any hard feelings at all.

If you only have one NSA partner or a preferred partner and they leave first, you’ll have trouble engaging sexually with a new partner.

You might not find similar compatibility with another person which gets in the way of new NSA arrangements.

Also, them leaving you behind feels similar to a breakup, so you might suffer an emotional breakdown even without any strings.

7. You don’t get it ALL the time

NSA is all about sex, so how do you NOT get it?

You don’t own your NSA partner and they have their own life, dreams, social life, professional life, or even other NSA partners.

You won’t always be or expect to be their priority like in romantic relationships. There will be times when you get a busy tone when you want to hook up.

When they have prior engagements, they won’t seek you anytime soon. If you don’t have multiple NSA partners, sex might be out of the question even for months… leading to more frustration.  

8. The purpose becomes hazy with age

Aging brings down your libido and you won’t feel as sexually hungry forever. There are more issues than erectile dysfunction in men and menopause in women which leads to this situation.

And that’s when you question, “what was all this for? What was the meaning of using my body so casually? Isn’t there anyone who wants to connect with me out of sex?”

Intimacy includes more than sexual intimacy, and when sex won’t be an option, you’ll realize that you missed out a lot more on life.

9. There’s no support

In committed relationships, you both take responsibility for each other’s emotional turmoil, support and motivate each other during hardships… that’s not a choice in NSA.

You might argue you don’t need a romantic partner’s support because there’s plenty from your friends and family.

You do… but can you be certain that they won’t ever turn you down or disappoint your expectations?

Your friends and family will have their own family and other serious engagements, while you stay stand-still and alone in life.

10. Mixing FWB and NSA is ominous

Though beginning an NSA with a friend is always discouraged, some people do it with a friend’s friend… with the excuse that they’re not your direct friend.

The moment you call off the situation against their wishes, they might spread rumors about you out of vengeance. 

Or, if you mutually end things, it might mess up or completely damage the friendship.

I’m sure that wasn’t all, so here are some…


No strings attached arrangements aren’t particularly easy… not just because your heart might interfere, but also because of other kinds of complications.

So, let’s find out more about NSA from here…

1. Can NSA turn into a relationship?

Usually, it doesn’t. Two people begin an NSA with no commitment in mind.

Even though romantic dramas show us how NSA partners become life partners, hardly two people in an NSA fall in love mutually.

Moreover, NSA partners never develop feelings around the same time. So, there’s a good possibility you’ll suffer a lot if you fall for your NSA partner and have a one-sided relationship.

2. How to end an NSA Relationship?

Honestly communicate and delicately insist on calling off your NSA arrangement. It’s not too different from regular breakups.

Whether you fell for them, or they developed feelings… whether you want to move on to serious commitments or the NSA isn’t working anymore… share your insights honestly, keep it all about how you don’t like it.

Don’t disrespect them even if something went wrong during the arrangements.

Don’t try to get back at them for their actions during the relationship.

Part for good without any hard feelings.

3. Is NSA Relationship Monogamous?

NSAs are like open relationships, definitely not monogamous. You both are entitled to have your fair share of fun with whoever and whenever.

There’s no commitment or faithfulness in NSAs. Since it’s not about your emotions, it’s fine to be non-monogamous.

Moreover, if you demand a monogamousrelationship from your NSA partner, they’ll think you caught feelings and run for the hills… it’ll only hurt you so better not have such expectations.

4. Who should you get into an NSA relationship with?

Firstly, never engage with a friend… many confuse FWB and NSA, but you don’t have anything beyond sexual intimacy in NSA.

However, in FWB, you have platonic intimacy which might ignite your chances of falling for each other. When one of the two friends isn’t ready for the relationship, both the FWB and the friendship ruins.

Always choose someone who isn’t a part of your life, in any committed relationship, your friend’s crush, or a co-worker… All of these bring confusion and complication in a relationship.

Also, it must be somebody who you find sexually attractive and compatible.

5. Can you begin an NSA with a stranger?

Not immediately!

The less you entangle with them the better… that’s always the motto. However, picking up random strangers from the bar or streets because you found them sexy isn’t the right decision.

Prioritize your safety before engaging in NSA with anybody.

Always go out on casual dates, know them as a person – whether they’re dangerous or show any criminal-like behaviors – know each other’s honest opinion on NSA, and definitely get tested.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

A no-strings-attached relationship might work for you but not for the other person. Before you begin one, think very carefully about your needs.

Will you really be satisfied with a sexual relationship only? Do you view sex as something fun or do you link it with your feelings?

Your NSA partner’s intentions also matter in this situation. Communicate about what they want from this relationship. 

How long do they want to continue an NSA? When do they want to settle down in a committed relationship? Knowing this will also let you prepare yourself mentally to part ways. 

If your NSA arrangement feels perfect then hop right in with the rules in mind!

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