Hookups and Casual Sex
The personality measure known as sociosexuality is predictive of which individuals may be more inclined to engage in casual sex. People higher in measures of sociosexuality are more interested in short-term relationships, have more sexual partners, and are less interested in commitment. In surveys, people who report engaging in more casual sex say their motivations are seeking pleasure, learning about their sexuality, and improving their self-esteem.
Yes. International research finds that people who are high in measures of narcissism also tend to be high in sociosexuality and more likely to seek one-night stands and short-term relationships, to pursue sex with people already in a relationship, and to cheat on their own partners.
Not necessarily. Research on people’s interest in short-term and long-term mating finds that while most people have a stronger preference for one than the other, the differences are not significant. In other words, wanting casual sex with many people does not preclude wanting love and relationships.
The surprising truth about why people use Tinder: They’re looking for love. Research on users of the app many see as primarily geared toward hookups find that many users are actually hoping that their connections will lead to being in a long-term relationship. They also enter into relationships started on Tinder with more confidence and self-worth since they’ve already received validation that the other person found their photo attractive.
Many young people who engage in hookups focus on risks such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. But research on young heterosexual men and women find that while, for many, the experiences are positive, casual sex can affect mental health in ways that linger long after an encounter, including regret, embarrassment, lower self-esteem, greater depressive symptoms, and a sense that they’ve done something wrong, which can lead to future sexual dysfunction.
Contrary to assumptions, most young people who engage in a hookup do see each other again; in fact, in one survey, two-thirds of college students in a committed relationship reported that it began as a hookup. In general, slightly less than one in five hookups lead to no further contact, while nearly a quarter lead to a continued romantic involvement, whether exclusive or not, and nearly one in three people reported maintaining friendships with a hookup partner.
What type of person would agree to have sex with a stranger? It might not be you, at least not if you’re female: Studies have found that about two-thirds of men would do it, but virtually no women; almost 20 percent of men already in relationships would agree as well. The differences were primarily about perceived physical safety risks and the risks of pregnancy or social stigma, but when those concerns were addressed in surveys about theoretical hookups, women were still less likely to agree, a sign of their generally higher level of discomfort with casual sex.
Researchers studying the link between hookups and regret have found that while at least half of participants report positive feelings about their hookups overall, women are more likely than men to regret taking part in a hookup while men are more likely than women to regret their partner choice. Men are also more likely to regret missed opportunities for hookups while women are more likely to regret a hookup that did occur. Both men and women are more likely to regret hooking up with someone they’d known for less than a day.
Entering into a “friends with benefits” partnership, research finds, tends to generate complicated feelings, because when people are sexually involved with someone they already care for, it leads to greater trust and intimacy, hallmarks of committed relationships. Also, one or the other partner in such arrangements often truly seeks a long-term connection, while the other does not, making for an unequal emotional commitment.
They may or may not be as emotionally fulfilled, but the sexual satisfaction of friends with benefits, according to research, is about the same as that of partners who are married or in a committed relationship. Overall, they also report high levels of satisfaction with their arrangement in general, perhaps a sign that these individuals welcome a connection without the emotional and practical obligations of a long-term relationship.