“Hook-up culture” and casual sex can be hotly debated topics. Views on how it affects individuals and society range from enthusiastic endorsement to outright condemnation. When considering how you want to live your sexual life, the part (if any) that casual sexual relationships might play, and how you might handle them, requires some thought. You need to ask if casual sex is right for you.
While sex can satisfy physical desire, psychological desire is also a frequent motivation. It’s important to determine what you want from a sexual encounter. Fun? Explore something new? Feel desired? Test chemistry with a potential long-term partner? By identifying your expectations you can approach sex with a greater sense of awareness and, importantly, will be better prepared to communicate your desires and expectations.
More often than not, casual sex is regarded as emotionally detached. This is not true. Sex, whether it is casual or a part of a romantic relationship, involves emotion. During sex, a hormone, oxytocin, is released which is responsible for bonding and induces feelings of closeness and familiarity. Oxytocin levels rise during orgasm and eye contact. This does not mean you will immediately fall in love with everyone you have sex with. However, he is an emotional element to be aware of and responsible for. When emotions are involved not only should you be mindful of yourself and set boundaries as you need them, but also be considerate of the other person and their needs.
Casual sex can be an excellent forum for exploration, boundary-setting, and negotiation. It can allow for pleasure to be shared even if someone isn’t emotionally available or able to commit to a more serious relationship. However, pretending no one becomes invested or has emotions after having sex often leads to hurt feelings and unmet needs.
Positive sexual experiences flourish in moments of safety and security, a step that is sometimes skipped in casual dynamics. Taking the time to check in and communicate during casual encounters can allow for a deeper level of freedom. With this in mind, if there are repeated casual encounters with the same partner, it is likely deeper attachments may form. Consider what you will need to keep the relationship from progressing if that is not the intention, and how you may care for yourself when/if the casual relationship ends. How would you like to be respected, and how will you respect the other person, when your paths diverge?
Casual sex comes with risks, such as unplanned pregnancy and STIs. It’s important to communicate clearly about safer sex options and how each person feels about the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy. This will help ensure more positive and aligned experiences for both partners.
Casual relationships do not diminish the value of deep and profound love. In fact, they are not even in competition with one another. Both casual sex and committed sex are sexual experiences that are available should you desire them. It can be challenging to navigate any sexual dynamic, so take the time to take stock of your motivations and desires and choose what is best for you.
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