The everlasting casual sex debate has recently become even more interesting, with scientists finally weighing in on whether or not the notorious hookup culture is good for us. To break it all down, we’ve decided to look at it from both sides, including the recent psychological studies that exotically scream yes.
Here’s what we’ve learned.
Normative Sex Is Exhausting
To hook up or not to hook up, that is the real question.
Dumbfounded by this Hamlet’s dilemma for the 21th century, Tina Fey speaks on behalf of millions of today’s consensual adults when she decisively puts her 30 Rock character, the on-again, off-again (but always proud) spinster Liz Lemon, in the position to pick fast food, Netflix, and spooning over hot sex:
I just wish I could start a relationship about 12 years in, when you really don’t have to try anymore, and you can just sit around together and goof on TV shows, and then go to bed without anybody trying any funny business.
Lemon’s sexless utopia is that much more important in the context of a new “sociosexually unrestricted” culture, practiced by “youths” in night clubs and on college campuses, and promoted by social media residents and pop artists. It’s so important because it fantastically highlights the opposite.
The opposite being – everyone’s doing casual sex.
“The most exhaustive analysis of popular music lyrics conducted to date”, published in the journal Sexuality & Culture in 2017, discloses an interesting thing about the phase of the ongoing sexual revolution we’re currently a part of – there’s been a 10% decrease in pop stars singing about dating since 1960s.
Also, one-night stands have recently got a new delegate.
Plot twist, she’s a woman with a Ph.D. and a blog called The Casual Sex Project.
Let’s Have a Diverse Discussion
As a lady at the helm of a famous study published by the New York University, Zhana Vrangalova has devoted a large part of her career in psychology to human sexuality in the new age, more precisely, the kinds of sexual encounters that occur outside of the norms of traditional, committed relationships.
Of course, Vrangalova’s research cannot be perceived separately from today’s Me Too movement and other cultural concepts that continue to blur the boundaries of consensual, safe, and healthy sex. It seems that once again, casual sex is equated with an immoral epidemic that is taking over society.
You know, the one that’s demeaning women and belittling “healthy” relationships.
Well, Vrangalova and her army of followers have both the last word and an argument to support it with. Having studied casual sexual encounters of college students for 12 weeks, she’s finally delivered scientific proof that the notorious hookup culture is actually very beneficial to our general well-being.
The research was born of Vrangalova’s frustration with negative portrayals of casual sex:
One thing that was bothering me is the lack of diversity in discussions of casual sex. It’s always portrayed as something college students do. And it’s almost always seen in a negative light, as something that harms women.
With all this in mind, we give you six good reasons to hook up (or not to hook up).
The choice is entirely yours.
1. Sex Relieves Stress and Makes Us Happy
At last, something we all agree on.
It’s well known that stress causes a low libido, but this also works in the opposite direction. An Arizona State University study proved this after having examined the correlation between physical affection, sexual behaviour, and positive mood in 58 middle-aged women. Sexy times made all of them happier.
But wait, there’s more. A night of sex is followed by a day of good mood, while a day of good mood is then followed by more sex at night. As a stress-relief technique, intimate encounters trigger a fulfilling spiral of perpetual mental health boosts – sex leads to happiness, happiness to sex, and round it goes.
The best thing about it is, nobody said sex must be an expression of love.
The results of this study are true for all people, no matter their gender, relationship status, or sexual inclinations. The only prerequisite is that sex must be consensual and not used as an excuse for destructive behaviour (in the context of mental illnesses that rely on sex as a symptom or a solution).
In translation, if you’re generally fine with who you are, but are currently feeling under the weather, if you feel like a night of wild intimacy might pick you up, but you don’t have anyone to share it with, there’s nothing wrong with engaging in passionate love making with a person you don’t actually love.
2. Sex Actually Makes Us Physically Healthier
If there’s a scientific link between sex and good mood, then there must be something that connects it to physical health too, right? The human body is an intricate system of parts, both cerebral and somatic, which (in most cases) means that what’s good for your mood is good for your bodily functions as well.
Positive sexual experiences have a short-lasting effect on blood pressure, cortisol levels, and endorphins. Each in its own way, these psychosomatic agents contribute to both mental and physical health, allowing you, when balanced and properly regulated, to forget your worries and simmer down.
In more ways than one, sex is just like physical exercise – deep breathing releases tension and relaxes your body, while heavy sweating helps tone your muscles. That, plus love, equals the synergy of movement and emotion, a powerful experience that holistically activates body and mind.
Sans love, intercourse is more or less like going to the gym.
The more often you do it, the healthier you are.
This is another strong argument in favour of casual sex, though it tiptoes dangerously close to sexually transmitted diseases, so typically associated with the hookup culture. What came first is now less important; what is important is the fact that, as long as it’s safe, casual sex is great for your wellbeing.
Do practice it regularly, but for the love of sex, always use a condom.
3. Sex Is a Great Confidence Boost
You’ll never look greater than after your last intercourse, and that’s a fact.
Sex has a way of making our curves softer and our muscles stronger. The chemistry of will-we-won’t- we alone is enough to change our self-image and boost our confidence, while the sexual act itself implies mutual physical desire, and by analogy, intensifies the traits that makes us attractive to others.
That’s why sevens mysteriously turn into tens as soon as they enter a new relationship.
Needless to say, it’s all high school-level psychology. Our flaws cease to exist as soon as someone fails to notice them, and if that someone is a person we like back, then the entire process is even more remedying. If he doesn’t see your nose pimple, chances are, you have made it up to begin with, right?
This is only a banal example, of course, but it still perfectly illustrates the psychological system that’s in place here. Sexual energy is very raw; unless you’re turned on by pure aesthetics or pressured by body image stigmas, your libido won’t care for dress size. It’ll want to have fun and exchange affection.
To sexual people, every human being is beautiful.
So, why not exercise that?
4. Sex Keeps You on Top of Your Game Until You Find Someone to Settle Down With
Going back to the “sociosexually unrestricted” culture, we must note that casual sex boasts another important benefit – it actually keeps us from jumping from one bad relationship into a worse one. Now let’s talk about why this pattern would ever be considered healthier than sporadic one-night stands?
Would traditional moral norms really rather see us hysterical, unfulfilled, and depressed in sexless couplings (not to say that all sexless relationships are like this, because they are not), then relaxed and happy in loveless (pertaining to romantic love, of course) arrangements with amazing single people?
If so, then something’s awfully wrong with what’s considered as “ethical” and “healthy”.
And, without much philosophizing, shouldn’t every person be allowed to choose what they enjoy, presuming that their choices don’t hurt themselves and others included? Should singles be forbidden from seeking physical contact only because society says that sex without commitment is ungodly?
Forget about it, society.
If there’s someone you like but don’t want to settle down with, go for it. Explore your options, have a good time, and see what happens. Seen from this perspective, one-night stands may actually help you understand who you are as a sexual person and what you want from your romantic entanglements.
5. Sex Is a Great Way to Learn a Lot about Different Kinds of People
Every encounter is an experience, be it sexual by nature or not. Experiences are tacit knowledge that shape not only who we are, but also how we see the people around us. So, what society is trying to tell us is not to jump to every opportunity to learn something new and grow wiser from our mistakes.
What a plot hole in this carefully built narrative.
Sex shouldn’t be a taboo. Our sexual drives are perfectly normal, and not only in a reproductive sense of the word. There’s always been a strong social component to sex, one that doesn’t imply peer pressure and other factors that influence sexual decisions in a negative way. It’s not all pure biology.
So, let’s put pressure on one side and liberation on the other, and try to acknowledge that the hookup culture allows us to mingle. It gives us a platform for exploring other people without any commitment. If that’s what both parties, both consensual adults, are interested in, then where’s the harm in that?
Socialization-wise, there’s simplicity and elegance in not taking sex too seriously.
6. Sex Helps You Stay Focused
Since sexual energy is raw, it tends to accumulate beyond control if not released. Every unrealized drive is dangerous – in all aspects of human life, they lead to frustration and lower our self-esteem. Call it an instinct or an urge, unrealized sexual drive can mess you up in ways you would never expect.
Just remember your high school days.
Remember the night sweats, the painful fantasies, and the general lack of interest in anything that doesn’t end with kissing and touching, and compare it to how you feel now as a sexually inactive adult. Troublingly similar, right? In matters of the birds and the bees, we’re no better than our 16-year old selves.
And that has absolutely nothing to do with how mature you are. It’s basic biology, urging us from within to seek mating partners, reproduce our genes, and have fun along the way. To our biological clocks, no sex means no reason to set up the morning alarm. It’s time for fatigue, lethargy, and apathy.
Casual sex can cure all three in one night.
It will not only boost your mood, but also remove all distractions, of which daydreaming about sex may just be the biggest one. Increased confidence will make you feel competent again, and allow you to stay focused on all that’s annoyingly dull and mundane. You’ll finally feel awakened and productive.
From Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon to Zhana Vrangalova’s scrupulous analysis, the clash of opinions in the casual sex debate speaks of a simple truth – our sex juices are only ours to give. According to science, hook-ups are good for our overall health, but that still doesn’t mean that everyone must enjoy them.
But assuming you do, let nobody judge you for that.
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