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Depending on the context, casual sex may be celebrated, relished, derided, envied, or stigmatized.DESPERATE MOVES \
Some people consider the activity in a serious way, evaluating all the possible ramifications emotionally and physically along with the potential benefits and drawbacks when thinking about having casual sex. Others take the idea of casual sex, well, a bit more casually.
That said, many people have strong opinions about whether or not it's a good idea, although these attitudes tend to shift as life circumstances—and relationship statuses —change. However, whether you're inclined to go with the flow or to consider the topic down to the nitty-gritty, it can be helpful to take a look at the cultural context and potential mental health effects both positive and negative that casual sex can have when deciding if it's right for you.
Casual sex can be defined in a variety of ways and may mean very different things to different people. However, by and large, casual sex is consensual sex outside of a romantic relationship or marriageusually without any strings of attachment or expectation of commitment or exclusivity.
Casual sex might happen between partners just once or regularly. It may occur between close friends, exes, casual acquaintances, uncommitted dating partners, colleagues, or complete strangers, and might be planned or scheduled in advance or occur spontaneously. In essence, causal sex is a way of having the physical intimacy of sexoutside of the emotional, practical, or romantic components of love or a committed relationship.
Some people form casual sex relationships periodically, while others do so more frequently and may have one or many partners that they hook up with over the same period of time as a normal part of their lives. Casual sex doesn't necessarily always include intercourse. It might comprise any range of physically intimate activities, such as kissingoral sex, mutual masturbationand penetration. Some people consider casual sex a healthy sexual outlet, akin to regular exercise, or simply as an enjoyable physical experience, possibly enjoyed even more without the expectations, ability, or pressures of a traditional romantic relationship.
When it's engaged in in an emotionally healthy manner, casual sex provides the carnal pleasures of sexual intimacy without the emotional entanglements of a full-fledged relationship. For others, casual sex has appeal but managing the emotions, as in not getting attached or feeling dejected or used, or judgments of others gets complicated—and can result in hurt feelings or unrequited longing.
Cautionary, often sexist, tales are often told, particularly to girls and women. Not too long ago, girls were warned with age-old adages like "they won't by the cow if you give away the milk for free," meant to deter them from compromising their "virtue. In movies, casual sex is often portrayed as fun, no-strings-attached romps resulting in a cheerful, exuberant glow—sometimes leading to romance. Other portrayals end in disappointment, regret, and heartbreak. But how does it play out in real life? For some, sex outside of commitment is considered immoral —or only appropriate for men or "loose" women.
Sometimes, these encounters may constitute cheatingas in one or both of the participants is in another relationship. Clearly, stereotypes, assumptionsethics, experience, and personal beliefs are all at play. Additionally, a few bad or good casual sex encounters may drastically skew a person's perspective on the activity. What we can all agree on is that casual or any sex carries with it the risks of unplanned pregnancy, contracting sexually transmitted infections STIsand physical or emotional harm from your partner, particularly one that is not well-known to you.
But, in addition to taking stock of moral issues and risk factors, there are mental health ramifications to consider when deciding if casual sex is emotionally healthy for you. There are historical, religious, and cultural prejudices against casual sex, especially for women, that promote marriage or committed relationships as the most or only acceptable venues for sex.
Often, these "rules" have been flouted, with casual sex kept secret, particularly for men, with a variety of repercussions possible like ruined reputations or ostracization for those that get caught. Women who engage in casual sex have historically and in some communities, continue to be demonized for the behavior, labeled as sluts, whores, trash, easy, or worse.
Clearly, buying into these harmful, oppressive stereotypes is damaging whether or not you engage in casual sex—and serves to reinforce the sexist idea that it's wrong for women to enjoy sexual pleasure and experiment sexually outside of romantic love or the bonds of marriage. However, with the introduction of safe and effective birth control in the s and the "free love" sexual revolution that followed, the power of these archetypes began to fall away.
Still, more conservative notions about sexual freedom and experimentation —as well as traditional views on gender identity and sexual preference—still hold powerful sway among the hearts and minds of some. Increasingly, noncommitted rendezvouses are viewed as a rite of passage or simply as an enticing sexual outlet. The pluses or minuses of causal sex are relative to the situation in question. There may be as many potential benefits like sexual satisfaction, feeling attractive, or meeting a potential future partner to casual sex as there are issues to give you pause.
Possible drawbacks, such as emotional distress due to wanting more or sexual regret, will vary dramatically from person to person, essentially based on your mindset going into the encounter and personal history and expectations. Some groups attach a lot of societal stigma to casual sex while others are more accepting or enthusiastic about the practice.
Each person should consider any underlying shame or other negative feelings they personally might feel or be exposed to and whether those beliefs resonate with them as something to embrace or reject. How likely you are to feel good about the experience before, during, and after is important to consider as well.
Of course, as noted above, there are notable physical risks of engaging in casual sex, particularly if safe sex practices are not followed, of STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and sexual assault. But the emotional fallout, sometimes completely unexpectedly, can be huge as well, particularly if you are engaging in casual sex as a way to avoid or bury your feelings. Anecdotally, we know that many people enter into these encounters thinking it will all be in good fun, only to end up attached, deflated, upset, or feeling misguided.
On the flip side, there are many others who end up pleasantly surprised by their experiences and their ability to enjoy a simply physical liaison. Essentially, some people may be better than others at compartmentalizing their romantic longings from their sexual desires. For others, emotions and touch naturally entwine, making causal sex harder to keep casual, even if that was your intention. Research shows that women tend to have a harder time than men with preventing emotional attachment, and when this happens they are more prone to feeling used, depressed, regretful, or embarrassed after the fact.
People may jump in without really thinking about how they'll feel afterward, only to find they're left with hurt feelings, remorse, wishing there was more to the relationship, or feeling unfulfilled by the experience. It can be easy to tell yourself that it's just sex, just for fun, but for some people, it may turn out to be very hard to keep your feelings in check.
So, it's vital to assess expectations honestly. Other people may have the opposite issue, where they focus so intently on just keeping the relationship on a physical level, telling themselves that there is nothing else there or that they don't want a romantic entanglementthat they may miss the potential for a more lasting, deeper relationship—possibly ending up disappointed later that they didn't pursue one when they had the chance. Then, there are others who fully relish the just physical thrills of a booty call. Sometimes, casual sex relationships exist in a lopsided power dynamic that leaves one or the other partner longing for more whether simply in frequency or in the type of commitmentwhile the other keeps it casual.
Clearly, this situation is likely to take a toll on the person wanting more. In these cases, there is a bigger potential for self-esteem to take a big hit and for stress, anxiety, self-doubt, or even, depression to occur. Additionally, studies show that post-hookup distress and misgivings are more likely with unprotected sex as well as if an encounter goes further than intended or if either person felt pressured to perform sexual acts that they didn't want to do.
Acting outside more conservative beliefs on causal sex might be liberating for some but end up disappointing, or even traumatic, for others. Overall, likely because this issue is so personal and influenced by so many factors, research on the mental health effects of causal sex is mixed. However, many others have found positive impacts, such as a boost in self-esteem, relaxation, sexual pleasure, and self-awareness.
In fact, a comprehensive review of 71 studies generally found a positive emotional outcome from casual sex experiences for most people.
Tellingly, many studies have found a stronger positive correlation of negative emotional outcomes for women who engage in more frequent hookups, while men tend to experience the opposite—more casual sex creating more positive feelings. Ultimately, your personal experiences and beliefs on sexuality, gender rolesidentity, romance, religion, morality, life purposeand happiness will inform how you experience and think about casual sex. Your own emotional baggage about sex, touch, romance, and sexual identity has the power to turn what might be a positive encounter for one person into a guilt-laden mistake for another.
Essentially, it's different for everyone, and only you can decide what's right for you. While it's challenging to get exact s on the prevalence of casual sex, studies show that the behavior is very common and increasingly socially accepted. Essentially, experiencing sex as a physical need and a way to vet potential romantic partners. Research has found that casual sex is particularly common in adolescence, emerging adulthood, and any time adults are outside of committed relationships.
For example, those pursuing college degrees engaged in casual sex less often than those that didn't finish high school. Another review found that religious belief, high self-esteem, and having married parents decreased the likelihood of the behavior, but that factors like race, socioeconomic status, depression, and being in a romantic relationship did not affect rates of casual sex.
In addition to reduced stigma about non-committed sex, the rise of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, OkCupid, and Coffe Meets Bagel, has given people many more options for dating and casual sex—and to find like-minded partners. Depending on the person, casual sex may feel like a gift, necessary pleasure, happy indulgence, minor regret, or a deep shame.Desperate women want sex
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