Hot, Casual Sex Around the World: The Truth About "Hooking-Up"
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What have you learned so far about people’s casual sex experiences?
That there is an incredible diversity of hookup experiences in terms of what counts as casual sex — from one-night stands, to sex with an ex, to paid sex, online sex — the quality of the experience — from that hookup being the best sex they’ve ever had to it being the worst sex they’ve ever had — the transformative power of the hookup — from opening their minds and bodies to enjoying sex more freely to making it painfully clear to them that sex without love is not for them. Some people have only had one single hookup and they remember it 20 years later, others hook up on a regular basis; some cheat on their partners, others have group sex sanctioned by or together with their partners. The variety is really astonishing.
Why are you interested in getting casual sex stories specifically from people who aren’t in college?
Because we know very little about the casual sex experiences of college-age people who are not in college and virtually nothing about people past college age. But non-students hook up too. Especially in today’s world where people remain single for longer than ever before, constantly move, travel and meet new people, and divorce and infidelity are extremely common.
And experiences of non-students are bound to be different than those of students. Students live in unique environments that don’t exist in the “real” world. We know little about how these experiences play out outside of the prototypical frat party. For example, young people who are not in college form a different socioeconomic demographic and perhaps hooking up has a very different meaning for them, when financial insecurity of early parenting may take priority. Similarly, it may be different for post-college adults who are older and know themselves, their bodies and their minds better, yet may be less “carefree” and more focused on planning their future than college students.
Notice any differences between the casual sex stories of college students versus older adults?
It’s still too early to make any conclusions — and I’m not exactly tallying up the results here — but one thing I’m noticing is the difference in substance use. Unlike college hookups which are very often preceded by heavy alcohol use, many non-college hookups don’t involve much — or any — substance use. Adults also seem to be a bit more deliberate about it.
Any gender differences?
Of the few unambiguously negative experiences so far that were regretted quite a bit, virtually all were women. Typically, they fell in love or really liked the guy and wanted it to be more than just casual sex either right from the start or after they started having sex. So they felt hurt and disappointed that the guy didn’t share their desire for more. In one case, the experience was very awkward and unsatisfying and she said it turned her off from sex for a while and from casual sex for good.
What reasons have your respondents given for having casual sex?
Many different ones: lust, being attracted to the person, not having had sex in a long time, narcissism, confusion, isolation, exhibitionism, self-doubt, curiosity, loneliness, deeper friendship, strong emotional connection, affection, wanting the attention, “I don’t know why,” “why the hell not,” “to please my Master,” to have a story.
What negative feelings have they expressed about casual sex?
Regretful, sad, disappointed, let down, empty, lonely, fragile, guilty for cheating on partners, worries about STIs or pregnancy after not using condoms. For some it revealed or reinforced the feeling that they can’t have casual sex, that sex is more pleasurable for them when their partner loves them, that they are too susceptible to falling in love too quickly and too hard.