NSA Meaning

Fact Checked by: Grady Shumway, LCSW

Acronyms are helpful to save time when writing and speaking. However, they can actually make things more confusing when you don’t know what they mean! If you’re here, you’ve probably heard about NSA relationships, but aren’t quite sure what they are or how they work.

In this article, we’re going to look at NSA meaning, how NSA relationships work, and a few other key details you should know to be in the know!

Woman eyes behind blanket

NSA Meaning – The Definition

When talking about relationships, NSA stands for ‘No Strings Attached.’ By definition, an NSA relationship is one where two people have a physically intimate relationship without the emotional or logistical responsibilities that come with a traditional relationship.

What an NSA Relationship Is

  • Physically intimate relationship
  • No commitment
  • May or may not be exclusive

What an NSA Relationship Is Not

  • Committed relationship
  • Step leading to a committed relationship

How Do I Find an NSA Relationship?

If you’re interested in a no strings attached relationship, the best place to find someone who’s interested in the same thing is online. Online dating sites allow you to share what you’re looking for without much judgment or awkward conversations.

Benefits of an NSA Relationship

For many singles, NSA relationships are something quite attractive to them. It gives them the ability to have someone to hang out with and have a little fun with without having to take on all of the responsibilities that come with a relationship.

Most NSA relationships are not exclusive and require absolutely no commitment. In some instances, though, if the relationship is sexual, both parties might agree to be physically exclusive with each other but still forego the other things that come with a committed relationship. But if it hasn’t been discussed, you can safely assume that the NSA meaning is no commitment or exclusivity.

Some of those NSA relationship benefits specifically include:

  • You can date multiple people.
  • You don’t have to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.
  • You don’t have to focus on building an emotional connection.
  • You can stop the relationship at any point with no hard feelings.

Dangers of an NSA Relationship

The biggest risk of an NSA relationship is that it doesn’t work according to plan. In theory, a physical relationship with no emotional commitment might sound great. However, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Here are a few of the biggest risks of an NSA relationship.

  • You or the other person might develop feelings which puts you at risk of getting hurt.
  • People aren’t as good at no-emotion relationships as they think they are.
  • Your friends might judge you for have a physical-only relationship.
  • It can make it hard for you to build a real relationship with someone else.

The bottom line is that NSA relationships rarely work how they’re supposed to because someone inevitably develops feelings. And even if it’s not you that develops the feelings, you risk the same issues if the person you’re in the relationship with develops feelings. Someone inevitably gets hurt.  

FWB vs. NSA: What’s the Difference?

Another popular acronym you’ll hear in this same discussion is FWB. FWB stands for friends with benefits. By definition, FWB and NSA relationships are basically same thing. The one small difference is that you generally hear the term FWB used between two people who are already friends. The term NSA is generally used between two people who may be just meeting or possibly meeting for the first time on a dating site. For example, you see NSA on Tinder profiles quite a bit.

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Author: Matt Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.