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 (1,479 Responses)
  1. Sprinter Door Rust Repair

    https://nanostandards.ansi.org/banner_click.php?id=2&url=https://sprintervanrepairshop.com/box-truck-body-shop-near-me

    May 14, 2021 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. good sam rv insurance phone number

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after going through a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m certainly delighted I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

    https://polo-v1.feathr.co/v1/analytics/crumb?flvr=email_link_click&rdr=https://

    May 14, 2021 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Maserati-Alfieri-Concept

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality blogs on the web. I am going to recommend this site!

    https://spacioclub.ru/forum_script/url/?go=https://club-maserati.com

    May 14, 2021 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. JebgEncox

    canadapharmacy https://pharmacylo.com/ Atorlip-10

    May 14, 2021 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. homes for sale rathdrum idaho

    Good post! We are linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the great writing.

    https://www.music-style.info/music-style/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=7897&url=https://meganleary.com/

    May 14, 2021 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Lasik Phoenix

    https://affiliation.webmediarm.com/clic.php?idc=3361&idv=4229&type=5&cand=241523&url=https://arizonasvision.com/

    May 14, 2021 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. realtor bayview id

    Very good post. I'm facing many of these issues as well..

    https://www.fms.treas.gov/fmsweb/disclaimer.jsp?ciURL=https://meganleary.com

    May 14, 2021 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. CNLnneAmNL

    executive pay essay analytical essay topics for high school best essay writing service in uk places to buy research papers

    May 14, 2021 at 21:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. LbsoZisse

    cialis black 800mg http://ucialisdas.com/ – cialis/dapoxetine with overnight ship viagra and cialis discount

    May 14, 2021 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. motorhome supplies near me

    https://kzsoft.to/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=1187&url=https://rvcollisionrepairpaintshop.com

    May 15, 2021 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Pricing Maserati

    bookmarked!!, I like your web site!

    https://www.ycaistock.com/home/link.php?url=https://club-maserati.com

    May 15, 2021 at 00:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Oakley Prescription

    Very good information. Lucky me I found your site by accident (stumbleupon). I've book-marked it for later!

    http://www.sns.51.ca/link.php?url=https://arizonasvision.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Dave Smith Maserati

    http://www.koromo.co.jp/files/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=1260&url=https://club-maserati.com

    May 15, 2021 at 04:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. JebgEncox

    canadapharmacy24h canadian pharmaceuticals online Furosemide

    May 15, 2021 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. avanafil

    buy avanafil avana tabs

    May 15, 2021 at 06:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. riverside collision provo

    https://l-www.sitepal.com/affiliates/entry/?spdirect=1&affId=75895&promotionId=17691&link=https://ocrv.online

    May 15, 2021 at 07:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. rv windshield repair near me

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Well written!

    https://j-friends.jp/cgi/search/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=8555&url=https://ocrvmotorcoachsales.com

    May 15, 2021 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Optometrist Near

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that make the biggest changes. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://jump.fan-site.biz/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=342&url=arizonasvision.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Boobpedia Maserati

    https://www.fotobug.net/home/link.php?url=https://www.club-maserati.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. houses for sale wallace idaho

    http://koromo.co.jp/files/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=1260&url=https://www.meganleary.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Optometrist Tempe Az

    http://local.katc.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=arizonasvision.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. GtnbCrulk

    taking viagra for fun https://jokviagra.com/ can you take cialis in the morning and viagra at night

    May 15, 2021 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Optometrist Phoenix

    Very nice post. I certainly love this site. Stick with it!

    http://khazin.ru/redirect?url=http://arizonasvision.com

    May 15, 2021 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. realtor agents near me

    I was able to find good advice from your blog posts.

    http://southampton.ac.uk/~drn1e09/foaf/visualizer.php?url=http://meganleary.com

    May 15, 2021 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. LebnEncox

    medical mall pharmacy https://xlnpharmacy.com/ my canadian pharmacy rx

    May 15, 2021 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. collision center of temecula temecula ca

    http://outlink.webkicks.de/dref.cgi?job=outlink&url=https://fleettruckrepairshop.com

    May 15, 2021 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Digital Marketing Videos

    Wonderful post! We are linking to this great content on our website. Keep up the great writing.

    https://whois.zunmi.com/?d=nearmyspot.com/.com

    May 15, 2021 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. aika online private server

    https://aikareborn.com/members/misogino.45248

    May 15, 2021 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Aika50 Aika50

    Can I simply just say what a relief to discover somebody who truly knows what they're discussing on the web. You certainly understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people must read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you are not more popular since you definitely have the gift.

    https://aikareborn.com/members/relogiocassio7.40590

    May 15, 2021 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Video Marketing Experts

    http://associatedfoods.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://affordableranking.com/

    May 15, 2021 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. XJPfbFcdBS

    homework help irvine st olaf interim essay help order a custom essay pay for someone to do my homework

    May 16, 2021 at 00:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Seo Marketing Deal

    You've made some good points there. I checked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.

    https://www.igive.com/isearch/NonStoreExit.cfm?type=1&isid=0df7d37f-4feb-4f0f-b472-1df60f43914d&rurl=http://www.affordableranking.com/

    May 16, 2021 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Internet Marketing Job

    I must thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this website. I really hope to view the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own website now 😉

    https://hockeyballequebec.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.affordableranking.com

    May 16, 2021 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Video Marketing Agency

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me lunch simply because I found it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this subject here on your internet site.

    http://clevacances032.clevacances.com/stat.php?langue=fr&id_location=HLOMIP032MS00786&agrement=32MS00786&type_location=meuble&id_departement=032&acces_site=1&url=https://affordableranking.com

    May 16, 2021 at 03:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Video Marketing Job

    https://www.bloknot-krasnodar.ru/away.php?from=guide&url=http://affordableranking.com

    May 16, 2021 at 06:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Mecedes Sprinter Repair

    http://biyougeka.esthetic-esthe.com/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=848&url=http://fleetrepairshops.com/ram-luxury-van-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 16, 2021 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Service Locations

    Can I just say what a comfort to discover someone that truly understands what they are talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people must read this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you aren't more popular because you certainly possess the gift.

    https://www.ref.webhostinghub.com/scripts/click.php?ref_id=nichol54&desturl=https://www.fleetservicesorangecounty.com/services

    May 16, 2021 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. How Much Does A Maserati Car Cost

    Hi there! I just want to offer you a big thumbs up for your excellent info you have right here on this post. I will be returning to your web site for more soon.

    http://www.domashniyochag.ru/bitrix/rk.php?goto=http://www.club-maserati.com

    May 16, 2021 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Sprinter Van Ecm Repair

    Your style is unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this blog.

    https://www.roughtrade.com/gb/country?redirect=http://fleetvehiclerepairshop.com/rv-dent-repair-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 00:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Rust Repair Sprinter

    I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!

    http://www.leisurecentre.com/jobs/home/loadwelsh?url=https://ocrvfleetservices.com/delivery-truck-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 17, 2021 at 02:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Quattroporte Maserati

    Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web site before but after going through some of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back often!

    http://newsletter.dlg.hu/statistics/redirect/62/1713?url=http://club-maserati.com

    May 17, 2021 at 02:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Van Repair Near Me

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday. It's always interesting to read through articles from other authors and use a little something from their websites.

    https://www.tapinto.net/newsletters/5bf3cd94a06be2548000001f/register_click?url=https://commercialvanrepairshop.com/camper-van-conversion-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Repair

    https://www.triathlon.org/?URL=http://fleetservicesorangecounty.com/gmc-high-top-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 04:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Roof Mounted A/C Leak Repair On Sprinter Van

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Thank you! Where are your contact details though?

    https://radar.techcabal.com/clicks/track?url=http://sprintervanrepairshop.com/food-truck-repair-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 05:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. eglAyTKzEd

    alaska homework help pro essay writer homework help 5th graders query writing service

    May 17, 2021 at 08:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Van Sliding Door Repair

    You should take part in a contest for one of the greatest sites on the internet. I am going to highly recommend this site!

    http://cdn.embedded.com/common/jumplink.php?target=http://fleettruckrepairshop.com/high-top-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Dodge Sprinter Repair Service

    Great article. I'm experiencing many of these issues as well..

    http://doctor-navi.com/cgi/hospital-search-engine2/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=14979&url=https://commercialvanrepairshop.com/limo-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 17, 2021 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Ford Van Repair

    https://www.swipeclock.com/sc/cookie.asp?sitealias=79419397&redirect=https://fleetservicesocrv.com/construction-truck-repair-shop-near-me/

    May 17, 2021 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. AnooEncox

    cuanto cuesta el viagra en lima peru http://llviagra.com/ – grupa viagra.ru viagra patent expires canada

    May 17, 2021 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Countertops California

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe this site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the advice!

    http://www.selfphp.de/newsletterausgaben/tran.php?uid=UID-USER.&dest=http://arrowapex.cn/archives/276/comment-page-851

    May 17, 2021 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Leave a Reply to FvfcZisse


 

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.