home
RSS
Is casual sex worth it?
July 28th, 2011
07:09 AM ET

Is casual sex worth it?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

To do it, or not to do it: That is the question of casual sex - at least as depicted on film.

In both "Friends With Benefits" (currently playing) and the previously released "No Strings Attached," casual sex is anything but casual. It’s carefully weighed, hotly debated, methodically scrutinized and, of course, comically miscalculated. As in most romantic comedies, the casual sex turns out to be quite committed and just a part of falling in love and living happily ever after.

In the movies, blind lust and romantic love often intersect seamlessly, but in reality, casual sex is often an emotional dead-end rather than an on-ramp to relationship bliss.

Anthropologist Helen Fisher describes love as a three-phase system:

1) Lust, in which we can attach to anyone.

2) Attraction, in which lust finds its focus and blossoms into romantic love.

3) Attachment, in which romantic love matures into a long-term relationship.

Casual sex is often an expression of Phase 1 (lust at its most unfocused), but, unfortunately, many people go into it with the false hope that it will lead to romantic love. And that’s where life does not imitate the movies.

That’s not to say that casual sex is a bad thing. It can be loads of fun, as well as a way of trying out new things and practicing your sex skills for that future special person. But casual sex isn’t always so simple.

As my colleague Emily Nagoski, author of the Good in Bed Guide to Female Orgasms, writes, “Especially when it comes to having sex with someone for the first time, the question of what it is you actually want when you want sex is very complicated indeed. Because what do you want, when you want sex? Do you want to get laid? Do you want a relationship? Do you want love? Do you want revenge? Do you want to rebel? Do you want to get pregnant? ... Then there’s the question of whether or not (and what kind of) sex will get you what you want. Sex will get you laid. Whether or not it gets you a relationship or love or revenge or rebellion or a baby is less certain, and so the decision becomes complicated.”

Casual sex has its risks and rewards, although the movies tend to focus more on the risk of falling in love than, say, the very real consequence of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

As the authors of "Sex in America" write of their interviews with more than 3,000 people, “Although we find that large numbers of Americans have had a sexually transmitted disease at least once in their lives, there is nothing random about where the diseases strike … the people who are most likely to be infected share one key characteristic: They have many sex partners.”

As it turns out, if a man has two to four sexual partners in his lifetime, his chances of ever having contracted a sexually transmitted infection are about 3%.

As the number of partners increases, so does the risk. With more than 20 partners, his risk is about 28%, almost a 1,000% increase. The same rough pattern is true of women, with the spectrum of percentages increasing from 5% to 35%.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the more partners a person has had, the more likely it is that he or she has engaged with those partners outside of a monogamous relationship, and that his or her partner falls into a similar pattern of casual sex, thereby greatly increasing the risk of having come into contact with  a sexually transmitted infection.

Casual sex could trigger a domino effect of risky behaviors.

“The more partners an individual has,” according to "Sex in America," “the more likely he or she is to have sex with people who themselves have many partners, the more likely he or she is to have sex with virtual strangers, the more likely she or he is to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol during some sexual encounters, and while it is more likely that a condom was used, the rate of increased use of a condom does not seem great enough to offset the higher risks of infection.”

I’m not trying to scare anyone out of casual sex. As Dr. Alex Comfort had to say in his book "The Joy of Sex," “There is no occasion for panic, or for losing out on the joy of sex - simply informed caution.”

So is casual sex worth it? You tell me. Like the recent spate of movies, does it ever have a happy ending?

Follow @CNNHealth on Twitter


soundoff (757 Responses)
  1. GrvCrulk

    https://kloviagrli.com/ – who sells viagra over the counter https://vigedon.com/ – generic viagra usa https://llecialisjaw.com/ – roman cialis https://jwcialislrt.com/ – what is the difference between cialis and viagra https://jecialisbn.com/ – cheap cialis 20mg

    March 25, 2021 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. AbgcEncox

    https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – thesis writing help uk thesis proposal writing writing a good thesis thesis help services

    March 26, 2021 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. dNrAUlzEUF

    dissertation service malaysia college essay editing service health and social coursework help writing terms of service

    March 27, 2021 at 10:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. agcjPDmIDV

    custom writer college essay writers need help writing a research paper essay writing service mba

    March 28, 2021 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. cSNrFZiymA

    business plan on catering service how essay on how you help your mother essay in alphabetical order help writing dissertation methodology

    March 30, 2021 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. FbshEncox

    [url=https://thesisacloud.com/]help me write a thesis statement for free[/url] umi thesis thesis guidelines phd thesis writing service

    March 30, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. HlCpIBvWpb

    integrated marketing communications objectives examples essay homework help online essay help for grad school iphone apps to help with homework

    March 31, 2021 at 14:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. AbgcEncox

    https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – thesis topic psychology thesis topics thesis writing online thesis writing services

    March 31, 2021 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. oesBACJYfM

    homework help center columbus psychology essay help uk help for my thesis help in essay writing

    April 1, 2021 at 22:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. icGvlVzZLC

    custom essay writings essay help discuss smoking weed while doing homework can you help me with my homework

    April 3, 2021 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. NIkWIuZscX

    money can buy everything argumentative essay london essay help custom writing essay reviews homework help irvine

    April 4, 2021 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. escorts of Rajaji Nagar

    Thanks again for sharing a wonderful list. I was wondering u did not mention the most sought after terminology used in all the blog commenting articles.

    https://independentmodeldaisy.com

    April 4, 2021 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. iKutXNtbCo

    business continuity plan for customer service graduate school essay writing service help my essay can you write my paper for me

    April 5, 2021 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. YvXliMAFyR

    computing homework help need help i need help writing my college admissions essay cheapest place to buy essays thesis on customer service

    April 5, 2021 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. bmmNTKEnui

    mba essay writing service uk 1 2 3 help me essays hotel purchase business plan doing homework tumblr

    April 5, 2021 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. CedagLiDQZ

    thesis statement generator research paper us college essay help how to help your community essay doing homework meme

    April 6, 2021 at 02:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. bJqwPWprLN

    service marketing in banking sector essays essay on can money buy success service oriented architecture research papers essay something you enjoy doing most

    April 7, 2021 at 03:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. FbshEncox

    https://thesisacloud.com/ – thesisacloud.com business thesis topics thesisacloud.com writing thesis service

    April 7, 2021 at 04:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. AbgcEncox

    https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – thesiswritingtob.com nursing thesis thesiswritingtob.com education thesis

    April 8, 2021 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. mSWEQoodyW

    writing custom nrpe checks life changing experience essay ideas i ' m doing my thesis i need inspiration to do my homework

    April 10, 2021 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Ivanthp

    Connecticut local

    Bowling walkways. colombian singles looking to hang out with your wedding date, but want to create the chums along along with sustain. Bowling alleys are the way to get coupled with a number pals within a very simple our environment for everyone to make merry and become familiar some other.

    nearby skydive pubs. the best installations to find puddle, Darts and therefore cheap drinks/food are near a nearby scuba bars. for instance like music? you need to check out an nation wide bands which are actively in your community. you never know, you can receive to see up coming bill Mayer. spend some excellent a period of time with each, gain knowledge something mroe challenging along with feed something delectable in the way.

    funny life. notice the local humourous squads locally. a lot attain beginner night times for less than 2 consumes per one. many more have particular coupon code also offers when you register for the message email list, which often provide free prices.

    April 10, 2021 at 15:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. wcFQIVXRXx

    doing homework on vacation need help need help writing my college essay paragraph arranged by order of importance paper writing company

    April 11, 2021 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. how does vardenafil work

    levitra generic vardenafil https://vegavardenafil.com/ us prices on vardenafil

    April 11, 2021 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. NgLAhsGsqg

    iphone app writing service can someone do my essay resume writing service bay area birth order essay introduction

    April 13, 2021 at 06:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. buy cheap zithromax online

    azithromycin 1g side effects https://zithromaxes.com/ what is zithromax 500mg used for

    April 13, 2021 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. canadian meds cialis

    counterfeit canadian drugs cialis https://canadacialisstore.com/ cialis at canadian pharmacy

    April 14, 2021 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. ubtZbDQiBw

    alphabetical order worksheets ks1 write my essay custom writing smart physics homework help do my homework for me math

    April 14, 2021 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. bremelanotide vs alprostadil

    alprostadil generic prices https://alprostadildrugs.com/ bremelanotide vs alprostadil

    April 14, 2021 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. impotence

    why sudden erectile dysfunction https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ botox for erectile dysfunction

    April 15, 2021 at 02:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. how to buy zithromax online

    citromax https://zithromaxes.com/ what is zithromax for

    April 15, 2021 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. tadalafil 40

    40 mg tadalafil https://elitadalafill.com/ generic tadalafil

    April 15, 2021 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. EprxvmBqOK

    help thesis i forgot to do my essay 10th grade homework help writing custom annotations in testng

    April 16, 2021 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. deVLWOjZWL

    iq will writing service essay about community service hours hy3 coursework help clipart doing homework

    April 17, 2021 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. rcgVkKSumt

    hinduism homework help buy my essay nine below zero doing their homework math homework help – answers to math problems – hotmath

    April 18, 2021 at 19:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. OtouvasDOz

    homework help alfred the great best university essay writing service will writing service ashford kent forrest gump personality type

    April 20, 2021 at 05:39 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Leave a Reply to trickdaddy


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.