In scientific and popular literature, sex is divided into two categories: romantic sex and sex without obligations or casual sex. Moreover, “without obligations” is a conditional term, and it does not cancel the partners’ responsibility to each other, mutual respect and concern for safety. The whole concept of sex without commitment is based on the fact that there are no romantic feelings between people and they do not plan to enter into any relationship other than friendship and sexuality.
In sex without obligations, scientists identify several formats – everyone can choose the right one for themselves:
- Friends with benefits – friends with benefits. The main focus in a relationship is friendship, but sometimes you can have sex;
- Fuck buddies are sex partners. It’s more like friends, sex plays a major role in relationships. Friends with benefits can go to the movies together or go on vacation, fuck buddies – hardly, at most – will go to the nearest bar before sex;
- Booty calls are partners that you can call and have sex at any time (unless, of course, the person is free and wants it). The friendly component here is minimal, the booty call can be a barely familiar person;
- One-night stand – sex for one night, often with strangers.
Why would anyone want sex without commitment? Isn’t it better to immediately find a worthy partner with whom there will be sex, love, friendship, and romantic relationships?
Let’s start with the fact that finding such a partner can be difficult – it takes decades for someone, someone does not find him in a lifetime. The absence of a permanent relationship is not a reason to deny yourself sex. Moreover, some people, due to age, employment and other reasons, are not ready to build a family or enter into a long-term partnership – they are looking for a different format of relationships for themselves. Finally, casual sex with different people is a way to get to know yourself and your sensuality, have fun and have fun.
It sounds attractive, but sex without commitment has its own pitfalls – from an increased risk of STDs to the prospect of falling in love and getting heartbroken and depressed as a result.
Sex without commitment – “yes” or “no”?
According to various surveys and studies, 50-80% of people from the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have had sex without commitment at least once. As you might guess, men are more inclined towards this form of relationship and get more pleasure from casual sex, while women are more likely to experience guilt and disappointment. This is because women, even in sex without commitment, strive for emotional intimacy with a partner, but men are more interested in physiology. You might think that for women, casual sex is a priori a losing option. Or not?
“If you’ve taken every precaution, one night stands are fun. We need to experiment, this is part of our sexuality. Before entering into a relationship, you need to try different things, gain experience, explore yourself and your sexuality. I learn something new every time with a new sexual partner,” said Hedda, a young woman who took part in the “one-time sex” study.
And she is certainly not alone in her beliefs. Scientists interviewed a group of women from Australia and New Zealand on the topic of sex without commitment – it turned out that many of them are not against this form of relationship, they want and seek “sex for the sake of sex” and enjoy it.
However, they cannot unequivocally positively evaluate sex without commitment. The thing is that it is for women that it seems “shameful” because of gender stereotypes – despite all the achievements of feminism, they are still strong. The guilt that society imposes makes it difficult to fully relax and enjoy. Some women even have to hide the fact that they have sex outside of a permanent relationship.
And to have a full-fledged sex life without obligations, women are not convinced that most men need only physiology from them. And this means that it is pointless to ask them for things that can be an important part of foreplay for a woman: kisses, hugs, compliments, a delicious dinner and a hot breakfast.
But everything is not as bad as it seems at first glance. Although men really care about the physiological aspect more than women, and the emotional intimacy in casual sex is secondary for them, the myth that “they only want sex” is not true. In a survey of 200 men, the majority (namely 47%) answered that sex should be “something meaningful.” Another 41% of respondents can switch between “meaningful” and “meaningless” sex, and only 12% have sex solely for the sake of sex. So, with nine out of 10 men, you can agree on such sex without obligations, where there is a place for the feelings and desires of the partner.
Status: “in an open relationship”
Scientists decided to carefully study what bonuses bring sex without commitment and what difficulties you have to face, doing it regularly. To do this, they interviewed 30 men and women aged 18 to 46 years. Participants were asked many questions: did they have experience of casual sex and sexual relationships without commitment, who was the initiator, how did such sex make them feel, do they want repetition, and so on.
As it turned out (not surprisingly), most people perceive casual sex as a temporary measure. Casual and free sex, according to the participants, is appropriate at a young age, in between long relationships, after entering university or divorce. Sex without commitment is fun and enjoyable, but sex with a regular romantic partner is still preferable.
What is the main charm of sex without commitment? Here the opinions of men and women diverge again: for the male half, the number of partners and diversity are more interesting, for the female – freedom and emancipation. Casual sex, which has been taboo for the fair sex for a long time, can be perceived as a rebellion and protest – and this brings women excitement, excitement, and raises self-esteem. For both sexes, the novelty factor is important: even if the one-night stand itself was not very good, the excitement of something new overrides negative emotions – and casual sex most often becomes a positive experience.
But still negative emotions take place – especially in women. And most of them are not related to the quality of sex or even disappointment that they did not have a romantic relationship with a partner. The main problem is in gender attitudes and guilt: after a one-night stand, women worry that they have been used, that they have betrayed themselves, and that their reputation may suffer. But the situation could be corrected if the partner behaved a little differently:
“I was upset that after sex we didn’t talk anymore”;
“When he ignores you the next time he sees you, instead of just saying hello and smiling, it destroys self-esteem”;
“Even if I don’t want to continue the relationship, it’s important for me to know that the person liked me”;
“I tried to call him after sex, but he didn’t answer. When we did meet, he made it look like I was chasing him.”
If men like sex without commitment so much, then why don’t they want a repeat? Why disappear and make women suffer from self-doubt? And why is sex on the first date likely to turn a man off thinking about a relationship with this girl?
Unfortunately, it’s all about biology and evolution. In nature, males tend to have sex with the maximum number of females, easily agree to sexual intercourse and just as easily disappear. They try to invest the minimum amount of resources in each of their casual relationships – they save them for the one with whom they will create a long-term relationship and will raise offspring. And in nature, the most choosy female is suitable for a long relationship – after all, with her there is less risk of being in a situation where you feed other people’s offspring.
It turns out that the call of nature forces men to divide sex into two categories: casual, with complete indifference to a partner, and permanent, in which he is ready to invest. But, as we have already mentioned, many men want emotional intimacy in sex just as much as women – it is worth reminding them that we do not live in caves for a long time and sex without obligations can also be meaningful.
Attention to the partner and her desires, a long foreplay, hugs after sex and a message the next day with gratitude for a wonderful night – these simple rules will help make even a one-night stand a meaningful and enjoyable event for both partners. But when a man (afraid of those same “obligations”) starts to say: “It doesn’t mean anything to me, just sex, and then you have to leave right away,” this kills both arousal, pleasure, and a woman’s self-esteem.
Useful or not?
Sex with a partner, even casual, is better than masturbation in terms of physical and mental health effects. Of course, when having sex without commitment, you should always use condoms so as not to catch a sexually transmitted disease, hepatitis or HIV.
As for the psychological state, the main risk here again is for women. Vaginal sex leads to a powerful release of oxytocin – this hormone causes attachment, and under its influence, women often begin to feel feelings even for a “disposable” partner. The good news is that this effect does not last long, and if you have casual sex infrequently or with different people, and then keep your distance, you can avoid “side effects”.
But regular “friendship sex” with one partner, who is also nice as a person, looks risky – in such a situation it is easy for a woman to fall head over heels in love.