Casual sex has always been around and it seems to have become the norm in recent years, not just with the younger generation but also older people who have come out of long term relationships and are ready to experiment and enjoy their single life.
Obviously some people believe that sex without emotional attachment and long term commitment is morally corrupting society and they talk about it damaging self esteem. But is that actually true? There have been numerous research studies done on this topic but most of the research is limited to a single question about the self esteem of people who indulge in casual sex. For example if the person had recently lost their job and had casual sex, are they depressed because they had sex to try and feel better about themselves or are they depressed because of their lack of employment.
A US study published in 2015 in Archives of Sexual Behavior resulted in some interesting findings. The study was based on 370 single university students who recorded their bedroom antics over 9 months and the effect those hook ups had on their self esteem, life satisfaction and anxiety.
Where this study was unique was that it explored the motivations for the students having casual sex. The motivations were divided between "right" reasons being autonomous, or "wrong" reasons being non-autonomous. The "right" reasons included wanting the fun and enjoyment, being highly attracted to the other person or to explore and learn about their sexuality. The "wrong" reasons included having sex for revenge, hoping the encounter would lead to a long term relationship, to feel better about themselves, being coerced into having sex or being too drunk to make a responsible decision.
The research found that if people enjoyed casual sex and hooked up for autonomous reasons their feelings about casual sex were positive. And they experienced an improvement in their overall well being and were less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. The study identified these students as being "socialsexual" which the urban dictionary describes as "Individuals who have a more unrestricted sociosexual orientation are more willing to have casual sex and are more comfortable engaging in sex without love, commitment or closeness."
In contrast the people who had sex for non-autonomous reasons reported an increase in anxiety or stress which was attributed to the casual sex. And of course having safe sex and using protection is critical to avoid the one night stand morning after blues where you worry about pregnancy or the risk of contracting an STI.
The study found that students typically reported lower stress and higher well-being after having casual sex over the research period compared to not having casual sex. And there was no noticeable difference in the results for women or men.
Lead researcher Zhana Vrangalov of Cornell University said, "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."
So, if you're comfortable with your sexual life, enjoy casual sex and would describe yourself as sociosexual - go forth and copulate - it might just be that a hook up a day keeps the doctor away!