Friends with benefits aren’t just pals with good health insurance. But you knew that. Maybe you’ve had one or two (or a dozen) yourself. Few can resist the fun of a relationship without the relationship.
“It’s no mystery why people have casual sex,” Dr. Barnaby Barratt, a licensed sex therapist from Farmington Hills, said. “Why should those who aren’t in a relationship not be allowed to have sex? A person may or may not be looking for a relationship, and yet can still engage in a casual sexual experience.”
[one] And casual sex isn’t what it used to be.
“It would probably be wrong to think those engaged in casual sex are sexual super-humans or are biologically driven much more than persons who are anything but casual in their sexuality,” Russell J. Stambaugh, Ph.D., a diplomat in sex therapy from Ann Arbor, said.
According to many students, casual sex embraces the true enjoyment of the activity.
To Steve Rice, psychology sophomore, casual sex is more apparent, acceptable and easy on big college campuses such as MSU. “Casual sex is convenient in a town like East Lansing because there is such a big pool of people to choose from.”
But Rice said his ultimate goal is to meet a girl he can see and call again. “Most of the time, it doesn’t work out – you’re not going to the bar to bring home a girl that you’d bring home to mom,” he said.
Similary, Tolga Yaprak, international studies sophomore, believes the reason for this is many people weren’t aware of the vast number of individuals they would meet here. “A lot of people come to MSU from small towns,” Yaprak said. “They haven’t been to big parties with such a variety of people. New faces, alcohol and being young combine, and casual sex is a result.”
[two] These factors on top of Web sites such as datenet.com, books titled, My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands, and the image of Samantha Jones riding on a sex swing clutter the minds of singles nationwide. With all this talk about sex, one can’t help but sing, what’s love got to do with it?
“People who engage in casual sex may feel that it affords an easy route to pleasure, status, affection, power or escape that persons requiring intimacy for sexual pleasure do not desire quite so highly,” Stambaugh said.
Simply put, not everyone needs love to have sex. Some people just love sex.
“Casual sex happens because you are unable to make that better connection,” Megan Higgins, a no-preference sophomore, said. “Not being able to find that special relationship shouldn’t stop you from having sex. You are just having fun.”
On top of “just having fun,” sex without attachment can have benefits of its own.
Higgins believes casual sex allows a person to distinguish between what are true feelings for a person, and what is considered “just sex.” “It helps you know the difference,” Higgins said.
[three] Additionally, Eric Howard, a licensed psychologist and sex therapist in Lansing, said it can be a good thing. “Casual sex plays a significant role because part of the experience is sexual learning.”
But of course, too much of a good thing – even fun – can lose its appeal after awhile.
“In the morning, that special connection has usually disappeared,” Yaprak said. “Either side or both parties don’t end up liking each other.”
According to professionals like Stambaugh, Barratt and Howard, any emotional consequences resulting from having casual sex are highly individualized.
“Depends entirely on the subject,” Barratt said. “Having sex to fill a sexual void will produce feelings of shame and guilt, and may manage to help that person not be able to find a lasting relationship later in life.”
Dana DuBose, business freshman, agrees. “Casual sex can be bad when you are insecure,” DuBose said. “When you use sex as an exit, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons.”
Zach Fink, education junior, believes the emotional attachments resulting from sex are greater for women. “Women get attached because they are just more sensitive,” Fink said. “An emotinal attachment forms when you have sex. People have sex because it’s sex and it’s fun and feels good, but casual sex is never as good as sex with a person you are sharing a relationship with.”
Yaprak feels that there are stereotypes of men and emotions during sex. “There is a general stereotype that men don’t have those kinds of emotions toward sex as women do, but I don’t think it is valid,” Yaprak said. “Guys portray themselves to fill that stereotype, but it doesn’t always ring true.”
Howard admits women in particular do tend to get more attached, yet this varies according to the individual, he said.
[four] “For those whose self-esteem is solid, and are honest with themselves and their partner, lasting relationships can form,” Howard said. “For those who boost self-esteem through sex, this confidence issue needs to be addressed separately.”
Barratt mentioned taking part in casual sex does not always have a negative effect. “A person could have a casual sex lifestyle throughout their 20s and be happily married in their 30s without any problems,” Barratt said. “However, if a man or woman jumps into a marriage to fill a void, or because they fear being alone, then that is where there is a problem.”
“When a man and a woman are honest with each other and themselves, casual sex is not harmful,” Howard said. “I think that often enough people will tell themselves that it is casual and yet they get attached and it becomes not casual.”
Being honest with your partner about sexually transmitted diseases, using protection and taking into account the dangers of date rape are imperative when it comes to being safe about sex.
[five]“The less well one knows one’s partners and their sexual histories, the more vulnerable one is to get sexually transmitted diseases and other sexual misadventures,” Stambaugh said. “For those who find sexual risk-taking to be exciting, these dangers may actually be an incentive to casual sexual activity.”
However, Stambaugh said the idea of what is risky and what is not is also socially constructed, and individuals vary widely in their perceptions of even fairly well-documented dangers. “Obviously, contraception, condoms and discussing partners’ sexual histories are tactics that can be used to partially manage the risks of casual sexual behavior, just as they can for persons demanding sustained intimacy.”
For some, though, the risk lies not in casual sex, but in committed relationships.
“All sex is a risk,” Barratt said. “Casual sex is no more a risk than when in an exclusive relationship. People tend to be more relaxed about barrier protection and safe sex is forgotten about.” So as a result, safety and respect are key factors in order to experience the true enjoyment of casual sex.
There are many other risks attached to casual sex, but as DuBose said, “Sex can be respectable, good and safe. You just have to be precautious and smart.”
So yes, even casual hook-ups might require a little bit of effort on your part. But, in the end, it’s good insurance so the benefits will last until you and your friend decide either to take the next step, or just stay friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *