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 (1,573 Responses)
  1. Google Marketing Business

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!

    http://www.skiing.bz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 04:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Local Marketing Near Me

    http://www.neuroliteracy.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 04:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Used Forklift Parts California

    https://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/patient-information-leaflets/androgenetic-alopecia/?showmore=1&returnlink=https://forkliftswildwestlifttrucks.com/services

    May 25, 2021 at 04:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RebfZisse

    cialis 20mg П„О№ОјО· http://rcialisgl.com/ is cialis as effective as viagra

    May 25, 2021 at 04:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Social Media Marketing Company

    https://www.avfocus.avclub.pro/bitrix/redirect.php?event1=news_out&event2=http2F2F40vincity.vnC3ADnh-sA1ch-bA1n-hA0ng-chung-cB0-vincity-ocean-park-tBBAB-chBBA7-91E1A7u-tB0-ce9330657daa&event3=9FBEB7D1D0D0D18BB9+B481BFD0D0D0D18F+B3BBBED0D1D1D0B88781BAD0D0D1D184B582B0&goto=https://affordableranking.com/

    May 25, 2021 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Video Marketing Business

    This is the perfect webpage for anyone who hopes to understand this topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a subject which has been discussed for years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

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

    May 25, 2021 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Content Marketing Company

    http://www.sicakhaber.com/SicakHaberMonitoru/Redirect/?url=http://affordableranking.com/

    May 25, 2021 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. EncoxAni

    legal drugs canada https://pharmacyken.com/ – pharmacy rx online pharmacy reviews reddit

    May 25, 2021 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. brimonidine

    combigan bottle sizecombigan brimonidine tartrate

    May 25, 2021 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Social Media Marketing Experts

    http://pechanga.net/ext_link?url=http3A//www.affordableranking.com&popup=1

    May 25, 2021 at 17:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Digital Marketing Firm

    Good info. Lucky me I came across your site by accident (stumbleupon). I have saved as a favorite for later!

    http://www.evenemangskalender.se/redirect/?id=10959&lank=https://affordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Soosteemocush

    tadalafil liquid https://tadacipetadalafil.com/ – cheap cialis pills for sale buy tadalis cheap cialis pills for sale tadalafil cost in canada

    May 25, 2021 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Social Media Marketing Companies

    Excellent post. I absolutely appreciate this site. Stick with it!

    https://annesitaly.com/?wptouch_switch=desktop&redirect=http3A2F2Faffordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Tritreviewifind

    best price usa tadalafil https://tadagatadalafil.com/ – cialis at canadian pharmacy tadalafil goodrx tadalafil goodrx where to buy cialis without prescription

    May 25, 2021 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Local Marketing Experts

    https://indirimlikupon.com/visit/?url=https://affordableranking.com

    May 25, 2021 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. paint repair near me

    https://bbs.tut-obmen.ru/redirect/?g=https://eyalama.com/exclusive-catholic-priest-suspended-for-rapping-in-church-while-preaching/

    May 26, 2021 at 02:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Flooring California

    https://lnk.bio/go?d=https://frankborkowsky.de/index.php?option=com_phocaguestbook&view=phocaguestbook&id=1&Itemid=12&limitstart=660

    May 26, 2021 at 02:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. orange county tire

    http://www.letronc-m.com/redirector?url=http://www.guenterreiter.eu/index.php?option=com_phocaguestbook&view=phocaguestbook&id=1&Itemid=4&limitstart=57460

    May 26, 2021 at 03:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. rv technician near me

    https://www.oberwoelz.landjugend.at/Oberwoelz/d_Links.asp?url=https://pop-thinking.org/2019/02/05/nissan-leaf-polar-bear-commercial-behind-the-scenes/

    May 26, 2021 at 03:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. toad truck near me

    Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and don't manage to get nearly anything done.

    http://www.dir.tetsumania.net/search/rank.cgi?mode=link&id=3267&url=http://www.us6.lee8.com/

    May 26, 2021 at 03:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RV Body Shop California

    You should take part in a contest for one of the greatest sites on the web. I will recommend this blog!

    /

    May 26, 2021 at 04:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Maintenance Near Me

    Howdy! This blog post couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I am going to send this post to him. Fairly certain he's going to have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

    https://esdlife.com/goto.asp?url=www.zivotdnes.cz/nejcastejsi-chyby-kdyz-se-snazime-zhubnout-a-jak-je-to-s-alkoholem/

    May 26, 2021 at 04:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. awning repair near me

    Hi, I do think this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may come back yet again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

    http://yumi.rgr.jp/puku-board/kboard.cgi?mode=res_html&owner=proscar&url=freelancetd.com/viewtopic.php?t=10004

    May 26, 2021 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. combigan

    combigan eye drops generic buy combigan online

    May 26, 2021 at 07:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. trailer service and repair near me

    https://vanpeople.com/space/link.php?url=https://airconditioningserviceinn13867.bloguerosa.com/3143453/a-secret-weapon-for-rv-service-near-me

    May 26, 2021 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. RV Bay Doors Riverside

    /

    May 26, 2021 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. motorhome body repair

    https://login-tk.ewe.de/module.php/core/loginuserpass.php?AuthState=_f129e4d348645839698b4d7d776dd3affbd987fedc:http://mario9d5u9.like-blogs.com/3491925/rv-repairs-near-me-for-dummies

    May 26, 2021 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. EncoxHtf

    buy brand cialis 20 mg https://cialishav.com/ – cialis alternative over the counter cialis no prescription overnight delivery

    May 26, 2021 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. MileSwa

    generic cialis fast shipping https://ckacialis.com/ – cialis pay pal black cialis canadian

    May 26, 2021 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Tembepteriope

    tadalafil tadalafil blood pressure tadalafil dosage lowest price cialis https://cttadalafil.com/ – buy tadalafil

    May 26, 2021 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. EncoxHtf

    cialis doesnt work https://cialishav.com/ – cialis coupon free trial cialis black box warning

    May 26, 2021 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Zisseloh

    ordering cialis online https://rcialisgl.com/ – cialis with dapoxitine cialis without a doctor prescription canada

    May 26, 2021 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Mercedes Benz Dealer Service Sprinter Near Me 91605

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but after browsing through some of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely pleased I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

    http://webgozar.com/feedreader/redirect.aspx?url=https://commercialvanrepairshop.com/truck-frame-repair-shop-near-me

    May 26, 2021 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Shades Near Me

    http://sc.hkexnews.hk/TuniS/ocrv.guru/rv-repair-shop-sherman-oaks-california

    May 26, 2021 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    https://www.t10.org/cgi-bin/s_t10r.cgi?First=1&PrevURL=https://boxtruckrepairshop.com/transport-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 26, 2021 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Sprinter Van Repair Fountain Valley

    Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your website is useful. Thanks for sharing!

    http://sherlock.scribblelive.com/r?u=sprintervanrepairshop.com/sprinter-van-windshield-replacement-shop-near-me

    May 26, 2021 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. motorhome repairs near me

    https://www.fof.dk/sitecore/RedirectUrlPage.aspx?ec_camp=00000000000000000000000000000000&ec_as=00000000000000000000000000000000&ec_url=https://ocrv.pro/rv-shades-repair-near-me

    May 26, 2021 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Interior Designer California

    http://wamu.style.coocan.jp/click/click3.cgi?cnt=counter&url=https://ocrvcenter.net/semi-truck-collision-repair-paint-shop-near-me-orange-county

    May 26, 2021 at 17:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Alignment Near Me

    I was able to find good info from your articles.

    https://client.paltalk.com/client/webapp/client/External.wmt?url=https://ocrvcenter.mobi/rv-repair-shop-inglewood-california

    May 26, 2021 at 18:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Mercedes Sprinter Brake Caliper Repair Kit

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the finest sites online. I'm going to highly recommend this web site!

    https://www.portalfarma.com/paginas/redirigir.aspx?redirect=https://fleetvehiclerepairshop.com/van-paint-shop-near-me

    May 26, 2021 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. ZisseVed

    online cialis no prescription https://krocialis.com/ – free cialis samples viagra cialis levitra comparison

    May 26, 2021 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Sprinter Window Regulator Repair

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the most useful websites online. I'm going to recommend this blog!

    http://sogo.i2i.jp/link_go.php?url=https://sprintervanrepairshop.com/hino-truck-repair-shop-near-me

    May 26, 2021 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Frame California

    Excellent post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our website. Keep up the good writing.

    https://router.usconcealedcarry.com/auth/invalidate?redirectTo=https://ocrvcenter.co/industrial-truck-collision-repair-paint-shop-near-me-orange-county-2

    May 26, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Tritreviewifind

    https://tadagatadalafil.com/ where to buy tadalafil on line cheap cialis pills for sale tadalafil blood pressure where to buy tadalafil on line

    May 26, 2021 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. motorhome alignment near me

    Hello there! This article couldn’t be written any better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I'll send this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

    http://genki365.net/gnka01/common/redirect.php?url=https://ocrvcenter.org/rv-repair-shop-westminster-california

    May 27, 2021 at 01:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Bathroom California

    You have made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.

    http://em.starz.com/rbc40/c2.php?STAZ/34987929/197338/H/N/V/https://ocrv.me/rv-repair-shop-lakewood-california

    May 27, 2021 at 01:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Kitchen California

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to return once again since I saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

    https://sso.siteo.com/index.xml?return=https://ocrv.biz/rv-repair-shop-anaheim-california

    May 27, 2021 at 02:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. rv parts store close to me

    http://radio.cancaonova.com/iframe-loader/?t=Dating Single: No Longer a Mystery – Rádio&ra=&url=https://ocrvart.com/water-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 27, 2021 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. repair blinds near me

    A motivating discussion is worth comment. I think that you ought to publish more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but typically people do not talk about such issues. To the next! Many thanks!!

    http://odokon.org/w3a/redirect.php?redirect=https://ocrv.club/rv-repair-shop-temple-city-california

    May 27, 2021 at 04:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Alton Schaeffler

    http://sitecheck.elinkdesign.com/redirect.php?url=http://orangecountybarber.com

    May 27, 2021 at 05:02 | 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 24 25

Leave a Reply to Roane


 

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.