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Evidence of casual sex seems to be everywhere in pop culture. Movies, television series, music videos, and social media coverage all imply that casual sex is the new norm. While a more relaxed, enlightened view of sex certainly seems to have taken hold in most developed countries, conservatives continually push back and view casual sex as taboo, and a sin. While the two sides battle back and forth what is often overlooked is a clear explanation of what casual sex is, and what are the rules to play by.
Social psychologist Justin Lehmiller, a faculty affiliate of The Kinsey Institute, has built a career researching casual sex, sexual fantasy, and sexual health all of which he tackles on his blog, Sex and Psychology.
The benefits of hooking up
Here, he explores the research surrounding casual sex—its emotional stakes, the orgasm gapand the viability of friends with benefits. Compared to past generations, young adults today definitely have more casual sex.
While online dating and hookup apps are being used more and more, the truth is most people are still meeting each other in person. So despite all we hear about people meeting their sex and relationship partners online, the vast majority of adults have never even tried it.
Meeting someone online poses some unique challenges. They only become selective later once they get their matches. By contrast, women are very selective at first and swipe right a lot less. When women had casual sex with the same guy more than once, though, their odds of orgasm increased—for instance, 34 percent of women reported orgasms when they hooked up with the same partner three or more times.
Can casual sex ever be good for your mental health?
A big part of the reason for the orgasm gap is our sex education gap. Fortunately, there are efforts underway to help change this. Do men and women really experience casual sex differently?
And how do you feel like society perpetuates that? This double standard le men and women to think about casual sex very differently: Compared with men, women are more likely to regret past casual sex experiences. By contrast, men are more likely than women to regret lost opportunities for casual sex. In other words, when it comes to casual sex, women regret having had it, and men regret not having done it more.
Likewise, there are a lot of men who look back on their casual sex experiences with regret and shame. The issue here is that casual sex is something that means different things to different people.
Personal and professional takes on casual sex
Some might say that casual sex becomes not-so-casual when it happens more than once. Others might say the key factor is how the partners feel about each other or the emotional connection that exists between them. How can you emotionally prepare yourself to have casual sex, i. Is it just a bad idea in general for certain personality types, or is it a necessary rite of passage?
Your comfort with casual sex depends to some extent on your personality: Some people have an easier time with casual sex than others. One of the most important traits to consider here is your sociosexual orientation—the ease with which you separate sex from emotion.
In other words, are you comfortable with the idea of sex without love, or do you think the two need to go together? Some people remain good friends, others become lovers, and some just get really awkward and uncomfortable.
A q&a with justin lehmiller, ph.d.
Our research suggests that one of the keys to having things turn out well is strong communication: The more that people in our study communicated up front, the more likely they were to preserve their friendship in the end. Another important factor: Make sure both of you are going in on the same. Social psychologist Justin Lehmiller, Ph. Formerly a sex educator and researcher in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, he has published more than thirty pieces of academic writing and authored two textbooks, The Psychology of Human Sexuality and A Social Psychology Research Experience.
He is the author of the blog Sex and Psychology.
Q Are people having more casual sex now than before? A Compared to past generations, young adults today definitely have more casual sex. Q What do we know about orgasms and casual sex?
Q Do men and women really experience casual sex differently? Q When does casual sex enter the realm of not-casual sex? Q And what are the right reasons to have casual sex versus the wrong reasons?
Q How can you emotionally prepare yourself to have casual sex, i. A Your comfort with casual sex depends to some extent on your personality: Some people have an easier time with casual sex than others.