A new study finds that — shocker — people who have casual hookups aren't destroying their chance of long-term relationship. But that hasn't stopped the slut police.
Sociologist Anthony Paik of the University of Iowa (holla) looked at the "relationship quality" of 642 adults around Chicago (according to the press release, "Relationship quality was measured by asking about the extent to which each person loved their partner, the relationship's future, level of satisfaction with intimacy, and how their lives would be different if the relationship ended"). He found that relationship quality was lower among those whose couplings started as hookups or casual sex. But there's a big caveat:
[H]aving sex early on wasn't to blame for the disparity. When Paik factored out people who weren't interested in getting serious, he found no real difference in relationship quality. That is, couples who became sexually involved as friends or acquaintances and were open to a serious relationship ended up just as happy as those who dated and waited.
You mean couples who got serious were those in which both parties were open to getting serious? Not those where the woman "trapped" the man into loving her by "withholding" the sexy sex that was all he really wanted? The release also notes that "certain people are prone to finding relationships unrewarding, and those individuals are more likely to form hookups." Paik's research doesn't seem to address the fact that many people go through phases of sexual preference in their lives, some of them relationship-focused and some of them not. However, it does back up what a lot of us have been saying all along — in the absence of assault or coercion, people (including fragile ladyfolk) are capable of choosing the kind of sexual behavior that's right for them. Women don't have casual sex because they're desperate and damaged — often, they do so because they want casual sex. And those who want relationships can probably still have them, even if they "give it up," because having sex does not magically make a woman unloveable or incapable of love.
However, some people still haven't gotten the memo. The latest to join the slut police is The Stir's Sasha Brown-Worsham, who's a big fan of Lady Gaga's recent declaration: "If you're not having sex with someone who really cares about you or who really loves you they can screw up your energy." Brown-Worsham claims that, "It isn't that I judge [casual sex] necessarily. I do think there are people who can have sex casually, but it's just not for me." But then she says,
When you have sex with someone, you let a piece of them inside of your body. Forget all of the stuff about STDs and safety. Those things matter, of course, but I'm more concerned with what it does to the psyche.
It's normal to feel connected and close to a man after you share that kind of intimacy and I sometimes feel like women today are expected to ignore that part of themselves so we can @#~ like a man!
I say forget that. I don't want either my son or my daughter treating sex that way and I would never treat it that way myself.
So basically she's saying: go ahead and have casual sex — if you want to harm your psyche and ignore a deep and necessary part of yourself. Of course, I'd never let a child of mine do that, but if you want to destroy yourself through loveless boning, go right ahead. I'm not judging!
Why couldn't Brown-Worsham have gone a step further and acknowledged that while some people feel emotionally connected to their sex partners, others don't? Or that it's possible to feel an emotional bond with some partners and not others? Or that sex and love are incredibly complicated things and we can't even agree on what a hookup is, so what's the point of making blanket pronouncements about what sex does and doesn't mean? As the Iowa study points out, it's not even always possible to separate casual sex from relationship sex, since one can become the other. So why are we still arguing that the former will destroy your soul?
Study Suggests 'Hookups' Can Turn Into Meaningful Relationships [University of Iowa News Services]
Lady Gaga Just Says No To Casual Sex And So Do I [The Stir]
What Exactly *IS* A Hook-Up? [Psychology Today]
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