Evidence of casual sex seems to be everywhere in pop culture. Movies, television series, music videos, and social media coverage all imply that casual sex is the new norm.
While a more relaxed, enlightened view of sex certainly seems to have taken hold in most developed countries, conservatives continually push back and view casual sex as taboo, and a sin.
While the two sides battle back and forth what is often overlooked is a clear explanation of what casual sex is, and what are the rules to play by.
Short answer, yes, however, it really depends on your choice of lifestyle and clarifying for yourself why you would want casual sex encounters. Many say that it is more fulfilling having that ‘release’ with a partner who is on the same page and is not seeking further obligations other than a classic ‘hook-up’.
Engaging in casual sex is mainly about attraction. If you want more opportunities to have sex casually, it is important to look and feel your best. Exercise and eat a clean diet regularly, learn to be interesting, and don’t be afraid to show your edgy sexual side.
If you're somewhat of a beginner to having casual sex, the best way to increase your chances is to put yourself in environments where a potential partner would be. Typical places consist of bars, clubs, lounges but you can also try searching for local meetup events or even actual sex parties.
It really depends on who you ask. Different answers given by different people might include:
In other words, casual sex or casual hookups are defined by the subject.
The most important thing to understand is that just because sex is casual doesn't mean it is meaningless. It’s just that casual sex means different things to different people.
There is no one, universal meaning. People have sex for all kinds of reasons, including:
Our definition of casual sex is not meaningless sex. We think of it closer to sex for fun between acquaintances who don't take it too seriously.
In a recent study of young adults (18–25) who had completed at least one year of college, the Journal of Sex Research Monto & Carey (2014) reported :
Mind you, no one asked the study participants what they meant by casual sex.
An interesting statistically significant factum hid in the data—the number of sexual partners and frequency of sexual encounters was unchanged between the Millennial and Gen-X groups.
Millennial youths were not having more sex with more partners than their Gen-X peers, they just felt more casual about it.
A review of several different sources done by the Promescent team found the tips below to be the most effective ways to make sure you are prepared for casual sex.
People don't have casual sex because it's sensible and geared to finding a suitable partner. That's what long term relationships are for. Casual sex is about chemical attraction.
This means becoming more attractive, which can be done in a number of ways:
Don't be too generic.
This is why people give the advice to be yourself—not because everyone will like you, but because some people won't like you... which, in some cases, leads to a sexual tension that both parties know won't end in marriage.
Casual sex comes to people who are edgy and overtly sexual.
Become comfortable talking about sex in casual conversation. It doesn't have to happen all the time—just pepper it in to make it clear you are a sexual being, that you enjoy sex without taking it too seriously.
People with high-level skills seem to be able to meet anyone on the street and end up in bed within minutes. For beginners or journeymen to casual hookups, consider these venues.
Bars and clubs exist so people can meet strangers and possibly hook up.
You can have a beer with friends a lot cheaper at home. So don't be afraid to say "hi" to an attractive stranger at a bar, or try a cheesy pick-up line at a club.
You have to be proactive to hook up at a bar, which is why some people can't stand it.
Many people are too shy to cold-approach an attractive stranger.
Bars and clubs encourage the use of alcohol and other substances to boost courage, which can sometimes be unhealthy and dangerous.
Picking up an attractive stranger at a grocery store might seem intimidating.
What about a co-ed running club or intramural sports if you are athletic? Social dancing if you are coordinated? Public speaking clubs if you are funny and engaging? Dungeons & Dragons parties if you are imaginative?
Meetup.com can reveal many untapped opportunities to meet casual partners.
Online dating divides opinions.
Some say it's a geyser of casual sex... but the numbers tell a different story. In an interesting article, Dr. Justin Lehmiller found that only about 25% of the 18-24 demographic has reported ever using an online dating site or app... and who is hooking up on these apps if not that age group?
Another study found that men and women have very different online dating behavior. (Gareth, T., Vasile, P., Hamed, H., & Michael, S., 2016)
Men casting a wide net and women much more selective.
By the time a match finally occurs, the duo may have gone through a very different journey, leading to a frustrating mismatch of expectations.
Explore the kinky subculture of a major city and you will find casual sex-themed events—swinger's parties, sex clubs, etc. The barrier of entry will vary.
For example, European cities like Berlin have famous sex clubs open to the public... but you have to look like a "freak" dressed in leather or latex to get in.
Casual sex can just happen anywhere, but some simple tips can make your encounter more successful.
Use a condom is rote advice, but there is more to casual sex preparation that carrying condoms. Tempt the universe with a casual sex kit that might include:
Women who carry purses will find it easy to carry these supplies. Men should look for pocket-sized pouches able to protect a condom and other materials without damaging them.
Don't just prepare your pad for the logistics of sex. Make it inviting.
Have more than one towel or pillow. Be ready to offer a cup of coffee and an Uber home. Be Nice
Just because you won't get married isn't a license to be rude. Don't kick them out of your house without knowing how they will get home.
Let them sleepover, even if it means you take the couch.
Be a gentleman. Make them coffee. If you see them later, don't avoid them—give them a hug and a kiss.
Again, it may be a one-time thing.
You gain nothing by holding back. Pull out all of the moves that get you hot within reason. Different positions are acceptable.
A one-time hookup is not the time to try anal sex for the very first time. Stick to what you like, and do your best to be sensitive to what your partner likes.
If your partner wants you to do something you are not comfortable with, stand up for yourself, and say NO.
Under no circumstances allow a stranger to tie you up in a private room.
In a long-term relationship, you develop a sixth sense about your partner’s body language, but much goes unsaid in casual sex.
This is especially a one-night stand where intimacy and trust are limited.
Check-in verbally as needed, but pay close attention to the body language and feedback your partner gives you non-verbally.
In a study done by E. Armstrong & A. Fogarty (2012); They found that the Orgasm Gap is especially pronounced in casual hookups between heterosexuals. As few as 11% of women between the ages of 18 and 25 reported experiencing orgasm with a new partner.
After three or more sexual encounters, the number tripled to a (still depressingly low) 34%.
Learn the anatomy of the male and female genitals. Study up on techniques to induce orgasm. If your partner raves about the experience, it can only lead to more casual sex.
If you want to have a casual hookup, the ideal choice is someone you both love and hate.
Someone who is your opposite politically, who loves and admires a musician you hate, whose style is sooo tacky but you feel an animal connection to him or her all the same.
This is not shameful—it is natural. We are attracted to people who have the guts to be themselves and to be polarizing.
Knowing that you would be at each others' throats constantly within the context of a long-term relationship makes it an even better prospect for casual sex.
Do you really want a casual hookup with this person, or are you secretly (or not-so-secretly) hoping it will turn into something more?
If so, check your expectations. If your partner is only interested in casual sex, you owe it to yourself to keep your distance.
Conversely, do you know for a fact that this person isn't your "one and only?" Then be careful about activities like cuddling or breakfast the morning after.
These activities lead to bonding and intimacy, whether you like it or not. Set boundaries!
Casual sex etiquette dictates that you don't have to have "the talk" before or after the first sexual encounter unless your partner asks.
If you hook up again, it behooves one of you to bring it up.
It may seem like you got into casual sex to flout the rules... but there are unspoken casual sex guidelines that protect both partners from harm and heartbreak.
The opposite of consensual sex is rape and/or sexual assault in some form.
This is both immoral and illegal, with dire consequences for both parties. Abstain from sex with a drunk or impaired person.
If the person seems reluctant or hesitant, ask if they want you to stop, or slowing down and letting them catch up.
Some people fear that asking explicitly for consent will spoil the mood or kill the excitement that forms part of the appeal of casual sex.
However, in the heat of passion, a quick "Is this okay?" won't completely derail a hot encounter.
Condoms, used properly, prevent pregnancy and many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs or STIs). They don't guard against every STD, and they can break.
Never act like you have intentions for a relationship if you don't. Never be afraid to say "I'm attracted to you, but I don't feel like this will lead to a relationship even if we do this."
Both sexes enjoy casual sex under the right circumstances. If this partner is not down, there is always another partner to meet who is down. Mixed messages only lead to heartache and headache.
Don't talk about things you might share with a close family member or therapist.
Clashes with your parents, histories of domestic abuse or drug abuse, politics or religion... too soon for a hookup.
Cuddling releases oxytocin, a chemical that leads to bonding (more on that later). It may feel nice, but too much cuddling is a surefire way to turn casual sex into a serious relationship.
This also applies to phone cuddling. Don't text about your day—this is bonding behavior too. To keep it casual, only text about where to meet next and what you want to do with each others' bodies.
Don't broadcast to the world you are hooking up.
Be the gentleman who doesn't kiss and tell. If you have to get it off your chest, choose a close friend or relative — preferably someone who can keep a secret, and who doesn't know your hookup.
The whole point of casual hookups is to have fun without burdensome consequences.
So, don't stalk your hookups, obsess over their social media, or become possessive.
Remember, people want to have casual sex with someone who doesn't take it too seriously. That way, they can enjoy the sex and move on with their lives.
That can be hard to quantify, especially when you don’t define what emotional health is
One way to calculate the emotional impact of casual sex is to determine whether or not either partner regrets the encounter, potentially suffering an impact on their self-esteem.
Some studies have shown that, as stereotypes predict, more women regret casual sex than men. Interestingly, those studies often show the inverse for men—men regret passing up the opportunity for casual sex.
By that logic, abstaining from casual sex could negatively affect men emotionally.
Other studies showed no difference in post-hookup regret between the sexes. L. Dillner (2016)
This question again hearkens back to religious and societal strictures.
We maintain that as long as casual sex is consensual and honest in its intentions, there is nothing unethical about it.
If, however, people engage in casual sex to fill an emotional void or get back at an ex, they are not being honest or acting with integrity in their casual relationship.
That really depends on why you do it. One study broke down casual sex into "autonomous" and "non-autonomous." Robert Weiss, Ph.D., MSW (2015)
Autonomous consensual sex was agreed to with full consciousness and understanding of the consequences. Non-autonomous sex involved a partner who was impaired (drunk or high), coerced, uneducated, or otherwise unable to offer informed consent.
The study found (unsurprisingly) that autonomous sex was more fulfilling for the participant and less likely to result in regret.
Another study broke casual sex down based on the partner's "sociosexuality," labeling them as more "restrictive" (traditional, religious, etc.) or "less restrictive" (liberal, freewheeling, etc.) Casual sex was found to be rewarding for the less restrictive sociosexual, and shameful or regretful for the restrictive sociosexual. J. Ross (2014)
In a word, yes.
Saying the words "We're just friends" isn't enough.
Sex floods the brain with oxytocin (Wikipedia & Psych Central Staff 2018), a euphoria-inducing hormone meant to make us bond with our partner.
This ancient, involuntary response, which activates the same reward center as heroin (L. Copeland 2013), helped our ancestors successfully reproduce.
Call it casual sex as much as you want—if you don't maintain strict boundaries (no cuddling, no daily dates or texts, etc.), the oxytocin will do its job.
Casual sex can be fun and invigorating if both parties fully consent. Gone are the days where casual sex is considered a sin, however, there are still rules to play by.
Be respectful, kind and caring of your partner for the short time you are with them. Have a firm understanding that if it is casual, it may not lead to a long-term relationship.
And remember, always practice safe sex while hooking-up casually.
Our team has over a decade of experience in the sexual wellness field and are experts in sexual dysfunctions, like premature ejaculation. We help couples and individuals better understand treatment options available for different types of sexual needs and educate the public on all things related to intimacy. All of our authored content is medically reviewed for accuracy and reliability.
Absorption Pharmaceuticals LLC (Promescent) has strict informational citing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic or research institutions, medical associations, and medical experts. We attempt to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references and only citing trustworthy sources. Each article is reviewed, written, and updated by Medical Professionals or authoritative Experts in a specific, related field of practice. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
Martin A. Monto, Anna G. Carey. 2014 April 21. A New Standard of Sexual Behavior? Are Claims Associated With the “Hookup Culture” Supported by General Social Survey Data?. Taylor & Francis Online. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224499.2014.906031 Accessed 28 Jan 2022.
Justin Lehmiller. 2017 February 22. Infographic: Americans’ Attitudes Toward and Experiences With Online Dating. Sex & Psychology. https://www.sexandpsychology.com/blog/2017/2/22/infographic-americans-attitudes-toward-experiences-with-online-dating/. Accessed 28 Jan 2022.
Gareth Tyson, Vasile C. Perta, Hamed Haddadi, Michael C. Seto. 2016 July 07. A First Look at User Activity on Tinder. Cornell University. https://arxiv.org/abs/1607.01952?context=cs.SI. Accessed 28 Jan 2022.
Elizabeth A. Armstrong, Paula England, Alison C. K. Fogarty. (n.d). Accounting for Women’s Orgasm and Sexual Enjoyment in College Hookups and Relationships. American Sociological Association. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.975.6032&rep=rep1&type=pdf. Accessed 28 Jan 2022.
Luisa Dillner. 2016 October 10. Is casual sex bad for your wellbeing? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/oct/10/casual-sex-one-night-stand-self-esteem-psychological-distress. Accessed 28 Jan 2022.
Robert Weiss PhD, MSW. 2015 June 08. What Are the Psychological Effects of Casual Sex?. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/201506/what-are-the-psychological-effects-casual-sex. Accessed 28 Jan 2022.
Julianne Ross. 2014 June 23. New Study Debunks What You Were Told About Having Casual Sex. MIC. https://www.mic.com/articles/91931/new-study-debunks-what-you-were-told-about-having-casual-sex#.545ug4yyp. Accessed 28 Jan 2022.
Wikipedia & Psych Central Staff. 2016 May 17. About Oxytocin. PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/lib/about-oxytocin#1. Accessed 28 Jan 2022.
Lisa Copeland. 2013 June 30. Ladies, Are You Addicted To Love?. HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/oxytocin-ladies-addicted-to-love_b_3156757. Accessed 28 Jan 2022.