The flip side of the problem is that not all casual sex is casual. What’s often missed about “hooking up” is that a “hookup” can be a frequent, consistent — even exclusive — sexual relationship. “I’ve had countless sexual relationships where I felt a bit like a robot, but we were both OK with the arrangement,” writes sex columnist Laurie Essary in her new book, Sex: The Complete Workbook. The intensity of one person’s sex drive can be far more significant than the sexual intimacy of a casual encounter, no matter how chaste.
Then there’s the backlash: Casual sex can open you up to unwanted STDs, pregnancy, or damage your heart and mental health. If you’re not having condomless sex or sex outside of monogamy, then you’re taking a calculated risk. Consider this the reminder that casual sex is a gamble, and you’re free to take it.
But if you’re worried about the sexual health ramifications, there are ways to make sure you can be “safe and clean” in your casual encounters — like keeping the doctor in mind. “The best prevention is to catch STDs and other STDs as early as possible,” writes May Swenson, M.D., a gastroenterology fellow at the University of Texas and one of Glamour’s “Top Docs on Sex.” It’s never too late to plan, so if you’re having sex for the first time, at any age, then have a conversation about what sex means to you and see if a new partner shares that same definition.
Disclaimer: This article is meant for educational purposes only and should not take the place of professional medical advice.
Casual sex can lead to unwanted STDs
If you’re worried about getting sick from casual sex, then here’s your biggest fear: catching something you don’t have a plan for. One piece of advice from sex and relationships writer Vicki Smith? Know your body. If you’ve been okay with engaging in all types of sex, until now, then a one-night stand might be OK. But if you’re new to having vaginal, anal, and oral sex, then you’re opening yourself up to some risks.
“By not using protection you run the risk of ending up with an STD [sexually transmitted disease] because you were not vigilant. The great news is that you can do something about this. See a doctor. Get tested, get treated,” says Stanton Glantz, PhD, a tobacco science professor at the University
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Read next: How to Use an Dating App Like a Real Person (Tech) Casual sex, for some of us, is the easiest way to have sex.
We talk about casual sex all the time, and it can get confusing, because most of us don’t think about sex in those terms. Like sex, casual sex is not always black-and-white. If you’re in a relationship, it’s fine to occasionally have sex without a spark of romantic attraction — as long as it doesn’t alter your primary relationship in any way. If you’re single, casual sex is perfectly valid, but not easy: Stay alert, have fun, and be safe.
To understand why people enjoy the casual sex lifestyle, understand that the major difference between sex casual and sex committed lies in how much effort goes into them. The time investment needed for casual sex is often a lot more than what you might expect. It’s not like popping into a bar or a party — you need to put some effort into meeting someone you want to have sex with.
When you meet someone you want to see again, a lot of the fun comes from chasing. The more you chase, the harder you find it to be available to others — this is why your partner being unavailable will always decrease your sex drive. However, you don’t have to be available all of the time; some people define sex as a “connection” and others as “pursuing someone to have sex,” but it’s about the pursuit itself — the fun is in the chase.
If you wanted to put that love towards a person, you could come onto the Personals section of the site, and add that there’s a few different things you’d like to know before meeting up. If you’re an older user, there’s a whole section on dating over 50, and the 18-39 age group has a whole section of ‘male hookups.’
We know it’s a taboo, but casual sex is often a lot more enjoyable than a lot of people give it credit for, and can offer some pretty big benefits. All it takes is a little bit of effort to get into the mindset that casual sex, or otherwise, isn’t as scary as it’s often made out to be.
However, it’s a good idea to ask about the sort of sex you’re having and