Facebook Pixel

Friends with benefits? Study says casual sex doesn’t harm young adults emotionally

 
Rate This

Even the headlines are provocative:

Casual sex not bad for mental health, study finds (Chicago Sun-Times)
Casual sex, hookups aren't emotionally damaging, study finds (New York Daily News)
Booty calls not bad for emotional health study says (Creative Loafing Tampa)

It's a sure sign of generational change. Parents worry that casual sex is a threat to their children’s well being, emotionally if not physically. But a new study by University of Minnesota researchers suggests otherwise.

The researchers surveyed more than 1,300 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 about their most recent sexual encounters. They were also asked questions about their emotional well-being and their overall self-esteem. The study was published in the December issue of the Guttmacher Institute’s academic journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

About a fifth of the young adults surveyed said that their last sexual encounter was casual. But their answers to the emotional wellness questions were no different than those who said they were in committed relationships.

"We were so surprised," Marla Eisenberg, an assistant professor at the university's School of Public Health who studies adolescent and young adult health, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

"The conventional wisdom is that casual sex, 'friends with benefits,' and hooking up is hurtful,” she said. “That's what we've been teaching kids for decades," especially in the federally funded abstinence-only sex education programs, she said.

“Not that Eisenberg advocates casual sex. Far from it.

"Casual sex is not for everyone" as an emotional matter, she said. Moreover, there is real physical risk: Rates of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy rates among young adults are rising."

In fact, the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world, despite readily available birth control methods. The Centers for Disease Control says that a third of teen girls get pregnant before the age of 20.

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Hi Anonymous,
Very true...this is why we have options but each and everyone of us has a free will to choose what is best for us.

Good luck,
Missie

April 24, 2011 - 5:49am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Well - what is good for you, is not necessarily good for everybody else.

April 23, 2011 - 2:33pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Even as a (30s) single lady, I would also stray away from a casual sexual relationship with someone. There are way too many cons to the situation (as mentioned above from Susan).

In a technological age, there are many other ways to stimulate yourself without the chance of disease, pregnancy and possible attachment. I say, don't waste your time...or risk the possibility of something you will never be able to remove.

Missie

April 23, 2011 - 9:04am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

No kidding ;)
I guess people who feel casual sex might be harmful to them in general are wise enough to avoid it.

April 23, 2011 - 2:26am
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Sexual Health

Get Email Updates

Resource Centers

Related Checklists

Sexual Health Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.

ASK

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!