But as social mores evolved during the ‘60s and onward – largely in concert with the rise of feminism and the diminishing role of the church in public life – pre-marital sex started seeming like less of a horrifyingly bad idea and more of a fun time for all parties involved … and casual sex was born, so to speak.
What really kicked it into overdrive, however, were the popularization of cheap and reliable forms of birth control like condoms, hormonal birth control and IUDS, and the increasing role of the internet in our dating lives.
Now, not only can you have great sex without necessarily worrying about causing a pregnancy, you can also find someone to sleep with fairly easily using the internet. Without a widespread social taboo surrounding casual sex, you can make all that happen without worrying about what your friends will think, too.
For starters, you can, well, have sex without putting in a ton of effort. With sexual pleasure as your guide, you can have multiple partners as you can schedule, coming and going as you please. You’re not really bound by any of the rules or codes we associate with actual relationships.
On the flip side, that relative lawlessness can carry with it a bunch of drawbacks. Casual-ness can be difficult to maintain over a long period of time, and if one of the people starts developing romantic feelings during the course of a casual sex situation, that can be an enormously tricky thing to navigate.
At the end of the day, casual sex is what you make of it. If you’re not careful, you might make some horrible mistakes that end in heartbreak, STIs or unexpected pregnancies. But if you’re smart about it (and a little bit lucky), you can take advantage of the fact that strict monogamous relationships are on the decline – and have a grand old time.
Different Types of Casual Sex
It isn’t necessarily just about having a one-night stand with a stranger. It could also be a long-standing friends-with-benefits setup, sleeping with someone who lives far away every time you’re in the same place or anything that’s outside of a defined relationship with clear-cut boundaries, rules and obligations.
Casual Sex With a Friend
Having casual sex with a friend is a concept that long predates app-based hookups. The hazy boundaries around friendships mean two people can conceal an attraction-based interest under the guise of being just friends until one or both parties lets the mask slip.
It can be a lot of fun to explore the sexual side of a friendship that had thus far been platonic – and a potential gateway to a full-fledged relationship, if you both decide you want more at some point. Since you already know and care for each other, that can make the sex more meaningful and the interactions less awkward.
On the other hand, if you’re not both ready for the shift in your interactions, hooking up with a friend could just make everything way more awkward. After the heady rush of finally consummating your mutual attraction wears off a bit, it can be a quick path to a friendship ending, particularly if you’re not able to navigate what you both want from each other.
Casual Sex With a Stranger
Having casual sex with a stranger instead of a pre-existing friend comes with a number of potential benefits. First, if things go south, you won’t have lost a long-standing friendship. In fact, you might even gain one if you’re able to stay on good terms after the hookups fade out.