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?
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Depends who she is and what she's charging
is it worth it? yes.
You sound like you don't know how HIV is transmitted... or think IF you are HIV-positive sleeping around is OK... or you think IF you have HIV that sleeping with other HIV people won't hasten your death. Lots of luck being stew-pid. Must be nice.
@HIValert – ever hear of a condom?
damn dudes h0es... and most claim to be pimps.. u cant be a pimp if u a wh0re yourself, fools
Condoms aren't 100% effective in preventing HIV even when properly used. Uh oh! The pleasure-palace is on fire!!!
@Well? – have you ever heard of HPV or the common rate at which it is transfered. FYI, it is a virus contracted through the skin and can cause cancer and plenty of other complications. Guest what, a condom will not protect you against this. There are plenty of folks walking around infected by this. Some know it others are unaware. Educate yourself, please!
There is a vaccine for HPV now. In any case HPV is prevalent in 80% of the woman and most of them dont know it. so, unless you stop sleeping with practically every body.
and you have to stop kissing too.
@HIValert: Are you living in stone age? Ever heard of condom? And going steady with someone doesn't mean you are risk free too. Who knows whom your partner slept with before.
at Well? – condoms break more often than you think
thanks 4 the feedback, folks. i repeat, 100% worth it ; )
sounds like some of you havent been intimate in about a decade. sad, but i hope things pick up for ya!
Congratulations, Idiots!!! You have managed to waist 10 minutes of my life on your comments. I thought comments on CNN would be more logical, intellection, and hilarious. You guys are a huge disappointment.
You, on the other hand, have be so clever.
yeah what a total "waist" of time. learn to spell, idiot.
What can we do to please you Lola, please tell us, we live to please you. Hey, I know, there's this guy I know and he can spin like 20 plates on a stick at one time, should i call him?
more intellection huh?
lola... you read the comments so you wasted your own time. Take responsibility for your own actions – nobody twisted your arm to spend time reading these posts... jeeeze.
You sound like you don't know how HIV is transmitted... or think IF you are HIV-positive sleeping around is OK... or you think IF you have HIV that sleeping with other HIV people won't hasten your death. Lots of luck being stupid. Must be nice.
heh the only good thing about comments here is that we are actually allowed to make them, that other news site doesnt allow any comment on any of their articles.
you get a few good posts here and a lot of junk posts you have to sift through to find anything worth reading but at the very least ... its good for a laugh
Lola, you fail. Speak English please. I don't understand a word you said. Intellection?!?! Waist time?!?! Speak Engrish!!!
Lola, I thought and believed the same thing about those who reply to stories on here. Thought I'd see more intelligent and insightful inputs to the subjects (whatever they might be). But more often than not, I find I'm reading a reply from individuals who love nothing more than to ramble on unintelligbly about "some" parts of the subject and spout their negativity about the subject. Sheesh, it gets so tiring.
Lola– Did you mean to say intellectuation? LOL
Sorry that your time was "waisted" due to these comments lacking "intellection." Wow, you are truly, truly dumb. That means that you're lacking smartification.
Obvious troll is obvious....
What's that old Chinese proverb? Better to remain silent and be thought a fool...
"Waist"? Did you say "waist"? Hey, learn how to spell before you post, you "waste" case!
1. the action or process of understanding; the exercise of the intellect; reasoning.
2. a particular act of the intellect.
3. a conception or idea as the result of such an act; notion; thought.
[beavis]Macc63 said 'inputs'[/beavis]
@poor dumb lola...ROFL!!
Thanks jimsoutlook. so 'intellection' is a noun, not an adjective. i guess you showed us!
Thanks jimsoutlook for showing that "intellection" is a real word as is "waist." Both, of course, were horribly misused. Lola don't got smarts too good.
I'm not "showing" anyone LemmyK. Just pointing out that it is indeed a word. You sure are an angry guy. lol
>Thanks jimsoutlook. so 'intellection' is a noun, not an adjective. i guess you showed us!
Well Lola, aren't you just a shining reflection of America's failing education system.
Don't waist your intellection writing comments that these guys don't appreciate, Lola.
Who are you calling an idiot Lola......reading comments on CNN is a WAIST of your time, you are the idiot it's WASTE...derrr
@Bill. That was great. If Lola is laboring to read these posts, she'll probably think you have her back. Very good.
Intellection... Lola, are you George Bush?
I agree, this article was a waste of time. No interesting points here, just a 'casual' warning about STDs
Oh snap! The next college paper that I write will have to contain the word "intellection".
EEWW!!!! That is GROSS!!!! That is so freaking selfish and childish!!!! Grow up to be with a serious relationship! No mind games!!!! They are lowlife and sicko!!!! Like tey are molesters...Freak them!!!! My own body, Not yours!!!!!
I want you.
are you on drugs? weirdo!
You can't be serious.
Watch for yourself......Good luck....
really!!!!!!! this is how you comment!!!!! no way!!!!!
The Truth posted an argument so idiotic that they removed it.
Nah. Not worth it when you can marry a hot woman, get all the s*x you need, and then some (cooking, cleaning, washing, etc)
Write us again ten or fifteen years on ...
A hot woman who will marry you and then cook and clean and wash and have s*x – with YOU? You must be young and single, my son. You show a lack of experience in the real world of man/woman relationships.
You know the old saying, no matter how hot she is, someone is tired of (bleeping) her...
Young yes. Single, no. Happily married to a woman I find very hot. Maybe cause we're young, but I'm pretty sure we have more s*x than most... and a lot more satisfying.
I was mostly kidding about the cooking and cleaning. My wife does cook for me and does most of the laundry, but I cook for her too, and help with most chores. It works for us. 🙂
" Happily married to a woman I find very hot"
Sounds like someone is a chubby chaser..
Good luck with that.
Adonis I agree with you, I've been happily married for almost 9 years. Glad we saved this gift for each other.
Adonis, you sound exactly like I did 12 years ago. Two kids later and things, as is the astounding majority, did change.
I wish you best of luck beating the odds.
adonis. we all like to pretend. men really like to pretend. wrapped in thier manliness. married 17 yrs and though hubby and i were older when we got married and had our play time prior, 17 yrs and yes, the s*x is more fun. altruism. i want the best for him. he wants the best for me. we both get the best. stay in shape, healthy, and happy and the 17 yrs goes by in a flash. have fun with your marriage and woman.
The same people trying to scare you with middle east boogiemen want to cut access to govt. subsidized help in common sense? Planned Parenthood hands out free condoms male and female......But what these extremists don't tell you is that they even forbid spilling your own seed.....They only want you building their armies.......
Too long didn't read
Im a swinger. At 50 ive beat with hundreds of women. Yes, at times ive been a bit "buzzed" and did not always use a condom. So far not a thing. Yes, its fun.(cialis helps). At a party last week, I believe I did aleast 10. Call me what you want, but you would be surprised who shows up for these parties. they are your neighbors, moms, grandmoms to, average age at most events 45. Stay healthy, keep your immune system up. Eat a carrot every once in a while.
You're only 50 and you need Cialis? I'm 55 and can still go all night, au natural, puzzy.
But, can you do 10 all night?
Your both full of it.
It's a shame you're 50 and using terms like "beat" and "do it", but still comical. Dont come crying on these forums when your penis falls off.
you sir are gross................you probably have a transmitted disease and you just are not showing any symptoms yet..............tick....tock......tick....tock......................not worth it my man, so not worth it!
fornication is a sin. casual s__ may bring pleasure in the present, but in the end, when we stand before our Creator, it will definitely not be worth it as His wrath is poured out on those living in sin.
I am with Mike on this one. I think swinging and open marriage are great. Most people cheat so why not be open about it.
And those who will say "I never cheated," just look at any statistics on this subject. The only difference is whether you lie/hide it or are open with your partner.
As for STD, is it a concern. What I really wish is that they had a vaccine for Herpes. That one really scares me.
Gross... How many GILF's you get at the last party? Some dudes will stick it in anything!
no tara. most people dont cheat. over 17% of women. 21% of men. that is not most.
Cavemen are cavemen.
And picture frames are picture frames.
mice are mice
Cheetos are Cheetos...
We can do this all day, ya know.
@svscnn – best reply in the entire comment section!
@svscnn–YOU RULE 🙂
yes erik and evolution works in such a way, we re no longer cavepeople. unless you would like the majority of the male population not getting any and only a select few of the males getting it all. arent you lucky we are no longer cave people. that we have evolved.
One of my best friends today was a casual partner from my past.
With a great partner and killer mutual chemistry, it's absolutely worth it.
Agreed. Just as long as the ground rules are set from the beginning. 🙂
Well said. Make sure everyone is honest about the expectations and intentions.
ya right – ground rules.....like people follow those.............great in theory, but you're opening up a door you shouldn't
It turned into a relationship for me. 🙂
There's only one way to know what kind of car you like. You have to try a few and get good at driving all of them, so you can know what you LIKE versus which one you can LIVE WITH. A good car for the race track doesn't necessarily make it a good daily driver... and vice versa.
And why use a 747 to deliver a package across town?
Camry is supposed to be the most reliable... good gas milege, etc. But every day i wish for a mustang...
You people crack me up!!! Screw everyone. Life is SHORT DARWIN LOVES YOU >:)
"WORK FOR PAY; AND PAY FOR FREEDOM – F' EM ALL – WE DONT NEED EM." (ACID BATH)
Toot it and boot it
I have no idea what other women experience, but getting a man to use a condom is a major campaign. I've had to walk out on very angry men who didn't get it. Even when they were told beforehand that it was a requirement, they thought I could cave in when it got right down to it. So, no, it is way too much work and drama.
Tell him you have a STD and you are only trying to protect him.... he'll get the message
Agreed! Although I found Crown skinless, and it's generally a favorite.
Yes!!! Have had some problems with that as well. Men: Take note of it, condoms a must.
one of the many many reasons i married hubby. just a small one. but there was no question he would use one. shows responsibility, beyond the self. good character.
Wow, the more partners you have the higher chance you have of contracting a STD? Did you have a crack team of scientists working around the clock to come up with that conclusion? Morons, thanks for wasting my time reading something a 3rd grader would know is true.
yea a gun was held to your head and other people wasted your time. You chose to read the article and posts... take responsibility for your own actions.
Beat, Skeet, and Retreat!
for me it's 24-7
Beat that pu55y up! And then move on to the next one!
If he was a real anthropologist he would realize that commitment and marriage are devices created by women. Men, by nature seek to spread their seeds through as many women as possible.
You couldn't be more wrong if you tried. Marriage was created by men so they could pass property down to their sons. Women have never gotten anything out of it other than ownership by men. You are an idiot!
Actually, men, as a whole, benefit from monogamous marriages a great deal. Compared to polygyny (one man with multiple wives), monogamous marriages enable more men to "spread their seed." Additionally, monogamy as viewed from a moral standpoint can be argued to be a product of evolution. Even morality itself is considered a product of evolution by some.
Wrong; marriage was created by men and religion. Pagan has is right; Men wanted to make sure the kids the woman has is theirs, not someone elses.
When women started taking birth control in the 60', the idea of marriage changed. You being able to have casual s@x is due to the woman of that generation; go ahead and say "thank you mom".
just the simple fact that innately most people, not all, but most people look to connect with one tells you otherwise. no more scientific evidence than the spread your seed theory, but as many intellectual reasonings why a man would want one. one being, the infant has way more chance surviving if babies are protect and provided for. spreading see? not so much. either in impregnating or survival.
I know I get butt crack fever in the summer and Terry cloth fever at night..
TLDR: The answer is yes.
No rules either!!... It's tear it up, tear it up, tear it up, to shreads!!.....
You flatter yourself, I doubt she can even feel it.
Michel Foucault would love this topic...
Yes, especially if it's with me! Hahaha
1 and 2 aren't love at all their just lust. Taking this logic and his 3 steps to love....there can be no real "love at first site". Close the book on that one eh?
The author of this article constantly celebrates his platonic choice and implores others to follow. I think for one who constantly has to argue for it, there may be some insecurity on his part. Relationships are between two people who get to set it up in their own unique way. Stop proselytizing and show more sides to how a relationship can exist and be healhy and happy for both partners.
I would have had much more in my teens and twenties. Serious relations shouldn't start until our thirties.
Not everyone is the same. So no real surprise right? Casual may work for some and their lifestyle and committed might work for others.
There's nothing better than new tang.
I'm on it like a hungry wild mountain lion!! "Casual nothing" you have to keep it fresh!.. just like the meat you eat,, Fresh.......!
This may have something to do with your contracting of syphilgonerherpieaids. Although I'm no medical professional, so it's hard to be certain.
I don't know why "news" sites even have these comment sections. It's just an opportunity for people to share their nastiest nature and hide behind fake names.
Why on earth is this a top story on CNN. Obviously it has consequences – is this seventh grade ed?! It's fun and anyone who does it knows the risks. Why am I even wasting time writing a review..
I tell you why its a top story. Because it's getting a lot of clicks. Its pretty easy on the web to see which stories are popular. Technology...it's pretty amazing stuff.
Yes, it's worth it, as long as you don't overdo it (like anything else).
The prevalence of genital herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection is greater than 20% among adults in the United States. According to the recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, among race and gender is 20% in white women, 15% in white men, 55% in black women, and 35% in black men. It is incurable and can be spread without symptoms. Asymptomatic Shedding is the release of the virus on the skin when there are no symptoms.
Herpes the gift that keeps on giving!
I work for the CDC. Exactly where do you get your inaccurate statistic from?
Is there any other kind?
This is better then work, thats why........
I'm curious what the average age of people replying to this article is? 12-13? Reminds me of 7th grade.
I think that's the problem with America. Too many people think this conversation should be ignored and not discussed outside of school children making jokes.
Frankly we are all just animals with basic instincts. Can't change what we are. Anyone not agreeing is just fooling themselves.
Too Low for Fat Hoes
My fiance and I were friends with benefits for 17+ years before entering into a monogamous relationship. After 3 years living together and 2 engaged, now not a day goes by that he doesn't get on my last nerve. I love him, but realize the excellent "benefits" blinded me to some of his less desireable traits. There were good reasons why we were casual and not serious for all those years, but I guess I eventually got dicknotized and lust overrode logic.
By the time I was 30 I had been with 64 women and yes, it was worth it. I did have 2 regrets. 1 I cheated on my first wife and she found out and that hurt her.. I wish she wouldn't have found out because it meant nothing to me other than just s*x. 2. I wish I could have been with more women.
Fact is, if you are a white straight male and you only have s_x with white or Asian-American females, your chances of contracting anything serious is very, very low. Just stay away from the Blacks and the Boys and you will be ok!
The prevalence of genital herpes simplex virus is 20% in white women. Statistically of those 64 white women, 12 had herpes. Not good odds.
ya....sure....you betcha...just keep thinking that sparky
Last Halloweed, I drilled a hole in a pumpkin then went to town. I then baked a pumpkin pie with it and fed it to my family. They really enjoyed it.
that's either really really funny...or really really gross.............................
No. Not worth it. If you have to ask why, you wouldn't get it even if I tried to explain. To each his own, I guess.
For me, intercourse is like a race, whoever finishes first wins.
You can't handle "The Truth" ?
You're probably one of those trolls posting under a bunch of different names, telling people that their spelling is wrong, or they have a grammer error, trying to get a rise out of anyone. When infact you have just as many typo's in your writings. Go back to fox news and have fun with the idiots over there, I'm sure you'll fit in great there because they never have valid arguments.
This is irresponsible journalism YET AGAIN. You include several instances of statistics, but you neglect to also cite the sources of your statistics, give the error terms for them and you insinuate that the correlations are causational. Why don't you just make things up next time? This is the sort of writing that harms the public rather than helps it.
Just wear a condum. And get a test for STD's. Its pretty simple. And if you have HIV or AIDS tell that person . If not , you deserve to go to jail for infecting people .
I feel like when I find a girl with genital warts, it's an added bonus.
Much easier for men, that's for sure. Women get attached quite easily, men do not. It's a biological fact too. Wish it were easier for women.
It is easy...you just find a partner that has a personality that annoys you. Might have to gag them while together but if he is hot it would be worth it. So it will be easy to keep it casual then 🙂