Fling Definition

A fling describes a brief sexual or romantic affair.A fling describes a brief sexual or romantic affair.

"Fling" describes a brief sexual or romantic affair. The term comes from the manner in which individuals "throw" themselves into such affairs. Flings are consensual but fleeting unions. They are temporary expressions or explorations of attraction between two people.

Love or Lust?

Intimacy in a fling is not to be confused with love.

Individuals in a fling are drawn to one another intensely, but their intimacy is not the same as love. More often, it is the product of physical lust or emotional connection.


Flings can lead to serious consequences or regrets.

Flings are sometimes regarded as insignificant and fun, but fleeting. They can be quickly forgotten. They may be the result of extramarital affairs, and can lead to serious consequences or regrets.


Flings are usually based in fantasy instead of reality.

Flings often happen on vacation or in circumstances outside of normal daily routine. They are usually based in fantasy rather than reality. The experience is one of shared illusion and indulgence.


The effects of flings can linger.

Flings are temporary but their effects can linger. When people romanticize a fling as powerful, deep or fulfilling, they may long to continue that relationship or reconnect. If the fling results in pregnancy or other serious outcome, it can affect one's life significantly.


Flings can be planned or happen spontaneously.

A fling may be planned or happen spontaneously and casually as the result of unusual circumstances, impulsive behavior, intoxication or instinctual urges.


Flings are often tied to identity issues.

Flings are often tied to identity issues. For teens and adults alike, they may be a sign of sexual awakening or the need for change or independence. Flings may be an act of rebellion, a sexual experiment, a test of one's own attractiveness or the expression of romantic ideals.

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About the Author

Sarah York has been a freelance writer and editor for five years. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Danforth Review, Pisgah Review and The Renaissance of Teaching and Learning and in various online sources. She holds both a B.A. in English and M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto, as well as an M.A. in Literature from Western Carolina University.

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