The definition of casual sex

Everywhere you look, there's some stunning new information about casual sex. Whether it's reasoning that a culture of one-night stands is destroying dating, marriage or responsible parenting, or that it's a widespread phenomenon across the country, there's no shortage of reporting on the subject . But most of these pieces fall flat on defining what casual sex actually is in a more empirical fashion. 

Ian Kerner recently highlighted this issue in his column for CNN.com. He cites the hypothesis of anthropologist Helen Fisher, who deduces love as a three-phase system. The first step is an unconditional lust for another person, followed by a deeper-rooted attraction and finally attachment, when attraction evolves into a long-term relationship.

Still, the real issue is that everyone has very different definitions of what casual sex really is. Some go into it with no preconceived notions, others are looking for a longer-lasting relationship with their sexual partner.

"…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?" writes author Emily Nagoski, according to Kerner. "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."

Whatever your reason for getting down and dirty, you want to make sure that you're emotionally and physically protected. First, make sure you really know the person you're about to have sex with – and if you don't, make sure you're okay with the idea of a one-night stand. Second, use a condom each time you have sex, to avoid getting infected with common STDs

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