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In a previous post, I wrote about Ashley Madison, a website and app designed to help married people engage in sexual infidelity.
I got the same basic response that I get whenever I speak or write about that site, or about sexual infidelity in general: Many are appalled that infidelity is so prevalent and that it has been so thoroughly monetized, while others simply shrug their shoulders and say, “People have been cheating since the beginning of time. ” When I speak and write about casual sex among single people, I get a similar reaction.
Many worry that society is crumbling because of "hookup apps" like Tinder, Blendr, Grindr, etc.
They seem to feel that sexual activity without emotional connection and long-term commitment (such as marriage) is an E-Ticket to eternal damnation, depression, or low self-esteem.
Meanwhile, others think the current digital hookup culture is a great way to be sexually active while single, and maybe even a good way to meet someone who might become a longer-term partner. In the post-Kinsey world, there is not a lot of research looking at the psychological effects of casual sex on those who do (or don’t) engage in it.
For that individual, is casual sex the Of note: None of the four studies found a significant difference between males and females.
Prior to this research, it was generally assumed that the psychological wellbeing of women was more likely to be negatively impacted by casual sex than that of men, primarily because the potential consequences (social shaming, feeling used/abused, pregnancy, etc.) would seem to be much higher.
Nevertheless, the findings of each study were consistent by gender.
Except for one thing: More males than females reported that they’d recently engaged in casual sex (double the number in the first study, and more than double in the second).
One rather simple explanation, other than that some of the test subjects might be fibbing, is that women define “casual sex” differently than men—primarily because they are more likely to seek and feel an emotional connection in addition to the physical experience. Research on the psychological effects of casual sexual encounters is in its infancy, and scientists are just beginning to scratch the surface.
A true understanding of what casual sex does and does not do to a person’s psychological wellbeing is a long way off.