By: Amanda Chatel for YourTango.comScience says your hookup is good for you.
I love casual sex. I've often thought that the sentiment would look very lovely on a t-shirt with a great big, red heart replacing the word "love," you know, like all those "I [heart] NY" t-shirts that you can get five of for $15 on Broadway. If it weren't for casual sex, I'd still be clueless as to what I enjoy and what I can do without. I'd probably still think "doggy style" is the stuff of kink and would have a lot less fodder for my work. Basically, my life would be the pits. OK, so that latter part might be an exaggeration. Emphasis on "might."
As a New Yorker, casual sex, when I was single, was just my thing. I never saw any harm in it and I usually had a good time. For me, it was about taking control of my sexuality, throwing my middle finger in the air to those who think women who enjoy casual sex are "sluts," and a necessary learning experience in my sexual growth. I never regretted it or felt bad the next morning. I knew what it was and accepted it for what it was. I knew where lines were to be drawn, and where lines could be crossed to pursue something more if the connection was there. It's just sex after all.
A new study has found that casual sex, if you like it, of course, can actually be good for you, but, as I said, ONLY if you like it. Which actually makes a whole boatload of sense, because who does things they don't like anyway?
The study, published in Social Psychology and Personality Science, was based on research conducted amongst a bunch of undergraduates who were asked to record their sexual activity within one academic year. Undergrads, who were all for casual sex, were found to have reported a "higher well-being" after enjoying some casual romping. What this means is that these people reaped the benefits that usually come with having sex: higher self-esteem and lower rates of depression and anxiety, you know, all the stuff (orgasms aside, for the moment), that make one want to get it on in the first place. In contrast, those who didn’t think casual sex was all the rage, but engaged in it anyway, didn't experience the positive effects of those encounters. Although that latter group wasn't as big as the former casual-sex-loving folk, so it was hard to get a definite read on what was exactly going on there.
In some ways, this study is obvious: people doing things they don't like, don't feel good after the fact, and those who do things they do like, feel awesome after the fact. If we subtract those who are doing things they're not game for, then we have a study that truly provides a legitimate answer to the casual sex debate, and it's that it does a body and mind good. Don't you want to do your mind and body some good?
As with all things in life, it's about your personal comfort zone. If you're comfortable with having sex with someone, no strings attached, and can walk away feeling great and empowered, then go for it. If you can't, then you can't be faulted for it, and you especially can't expect to feel good about it. I have many friends who would rather have their eyes stabbed out than have casual sex, and just as many who will engage in it half a dozen times before Monday. So, I guess what I'm in defense of most is personal choice.
I'm not at liberty to dictate to you, nor are you at liberty to dictate to me, what we do with our bodies. Whether or not we want to have casual sex is our business, and our business alone. Life is too short to fall prey to the judgments of others, and even shorter to make decisions based on studies that have only been executed amongst a handful of college undergraduates.
My piece of advice for anyone is to do what makes you happy and what makes you feel good. As long as you're safe, and don't put your heart on the line when you shouldn't, then you'll be fine. Casual sex isn't for everyone, but if it's for you, then you'd be foolish to deny yourself all the benefits that come with it.
So, as Nike tells us: just do it.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Just Doing It: In Defense of Casual SexMore From Your Tango