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Study: Casual sex is good for those who like casual sex

By Ryan Hite     Jun 22, 2014 in Health
New research by sex researchers suggest that casual sex is good for those who have a personality that suggests they would enjoy casual sex.
A new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science notes that casual sex is bad for you. The study concluded how casual sex may offer “less enjoyment and nurturance than romantic sex, frequent regret, unwanted emotional attachment, substance use, and social stigma.” There are many stigmas attached to casual sex that appear horrible, to those for whom the art of sex, or sexuality as a basic human need, are important.
There is research that has attempted to measure the overall effects of one-night stands and what are called “fuck buddies” on psychological health that concludes that not all of it is true. “Past findings on the main effects of casual sex on well-being range from negative to positive with a preponderance of nonsignificant results,” the new study, led by researcher Zhana Vrangalova, notes. In other words, casual sex is good for you if you like casual sex.
All-negative or all-positive findings don’t really account for the complex spectrum of opinion about casual sex and they exclude those who can’t wait to engage in casual sex without any commitment, and there are people out there like that.
In the social science scene, the personality trait that measures degrees of interest in casual sex is termed “sociosexuality.” “Sociosexual orientation is a relatively stable tendency toward or away from casual sex, determined by a combination of heritable factors, sociocultural learning, and past experiences, and reflected in three key components: motivation for, attitudes toward, and past experience with casual sex,” the authors wrote in the study.
Other research has shown there are positive psychological benefits when someone acts in accordance with their personality. The authors argue that there would be no reason to believe that this effect wouldn’t extend to those who like casual sex. If you are “sociosexually unrestricted,” or you desire things like casual sex, you might derive benefits from feeling like you’re acting authentically while having it. If you’re “sociosexually restricted,” it will work in the opposite manner.
The researchers tested this by surveying 371 college students about their baseline sociosexuality and then asking them about their sexual behavior and psychological well-being over a period of many months. “Participants were considered to have had penetrative casual sex on a given week if any of their oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse partners were reported as one-night stands, friends with benefits, fuck buddies, casually hanging out, just friends, ex-partners, or unclear/complicated,” the researchers explained.
At the end, 42 percent of subjects reported having sex outside of a relationship. When it came to those who were sociosexually unrestricted, having casual sex was associated with higher self-esteem and life satisfaction and lower depression and anxiety. “Typically, sociosexually unrestricted individuals reported lower distress and higher thriving following casual sex, suggesting that high sociosexuality may both buffer against any potentially harmful consequences of casual sex and allow access to its potential benefits,” the researchers said. Additionally, feelings of authenticity amplified the psychological effects in a good way, but did not spur them on. Surprisingly, the researchers did not find any negative effects on well-being in those who were sociosexually restricted, but had casual sex anyway. There are many factors to this, but a larger sample size may be needed to confirm negative feelings to those who are restricted.
“This study certainly seems to suggest that casual sex can be a good thing for people who are open to it, desire it, and have positive attitudes towards it,” Vrangalova said in an email to media. “And it is always a good idea to be safe while doing it and not get too wasted – other research shows that a lot of the guilt following casual sex comes from failure to use condoms or getting too drunk.”
These findings do not imply that “casual sex is better than relationship sex, even for unrestricted people,” Vrangalova says. “The vast majority of unrestricted people desire, enjoy, and form relationships; they just also enjoy and desire casual sex.”
The types of people who constantly desire casual sex sound a bit insufferable to many. Many of them are men who do not want to have a commitment and seek to have sex. “Among men, they are also more likely to be physically strong, and especially among college men, also more sexist, manipulative, coercive and narcissistic.” They also tend to be “unconventional, attractive, and liberal,” Vrangalova says.
The study proves that casual sex is much more complex than previous research has let on. “This study and a previous study of mine are some of the first studies to show that hooking up is not always bad or good for everyone, that it depends on various personal, interpersonal and situational factors,” Vrangalova says. “And we need more research that will examine these various factors, and move the discourse away from the black-and-white picture often painted and toward these more useful nuances.”
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