Casual sex versus committal sex continues to be a grand divide in the collective beliefs of people today.
Many threads of the controversy stem from the grand debates of religion versus spiritual freedom, and conscious conception versus pregnancy prevention - with some of the pros and cons simplified down to things like biology and brain chemistry.
I personally don’t believe there is one right way, but tuning into the broader scope of conversations may help you make more informed decisions that guide your dating process.
For starters, casual sex can be an expansive way to explore your sexuality, preferences, and boundaries. Many people choose casual sex to help them get over a breakup, explore new kinks, or to experience multiple partners before settling down. There is something exceptionally liberating about amplifying your sex life without fear of judgement.
A friend once told me, “You’re an animal with needs, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting those needs met.” This statement felt so permitting for the stage of life I was in, when I had a nursing baby and I just wasn’t ready for a partner! And it’s true, I was not ready to be in relationship yet, but I craved touch and stimulation of my life force. These experiences catapulted me out of the mommy phase and back into my power.
But maybe it’s less about your sexuality as a whole, and more about an aspect of your sexuality! Is there a fantasy you felt to shy to try with your longtime partner? Is there a dating style, like polyamory, that has intrigued you but seemed off limits? Have you felt limited by your one sexual partner and wondered what else is out there? These can be great reasons to venture out beyond committal sex, and because there is no obligation to return to the same partner, the risks of feeling judged or hurt are significantly lower.
From this perspective, casual sex becomes a playground to explore your sexual archetypes! Do you want to try kink and bondage? Are you curious about lingerie? Have you always wanted to perform a lap dance? Maybe you want to practice being dominant or submissive? New relationships can be freeing, because you are not facing the projection of who you were yesterday.
Casual sex can also be a great way to strengthen boundaries.
How much easier might it be to practice your “no” with no strings attached? No, I don’t want to see you again. No, I don’t like this position. No, I don’t feel comfortable doing this. Those words can feel scary with someone you care for. You might be worried about their feelings, or simply concerned with their reaction. Plus, when deep trust is not already established, sovereignty and agency is required even more! In this domain, casual sex partners become a mirror of reflection for the strength of your boundaries, initiating skills, communication skills and more.
Casual sex can help some to find out who they are, and consciously choose a partner. For others, it’s the path of recovering from a partner! Discovering who they are independently, mending the space left by a separation, or widening the perspective of love and relationships.
Still, there are counter arguments in the debate around casual sex that are worth considering, including pregnancy, STD’s, and bonding.
Even though alternative methods of pregnancy prevention and pregnancy termination are accessible (think outside of modern day gynecology), there is always the possibility that casual sex can lead to an unplanned pregnancy. While I’ve seen some women happily raise their accidental Tinder baby, it still poses a few concerns...
Are the parents economically able to care for a child? Are the parents educated enough to care for a child well? And are the parents civil enough to both be present in the child’s life?
Regardless of sovereign and empowered choices to raise a baby alone, statistics speak to the higher suicide and addiction rates of children raised in a single parent home, particularly fatherless homes. And if a child is not born, it seems appropriate to consider the biological and emotional hardship that can happen as a result of standard birth control methods and abortions.
Speaking of biological hardships, STD’s can be a serious risk of casual sex. Safe sex requires intentionality above all. Has your partner been tested? Are you using contraceptives? Are they full proof? Are you having safe non-penetrative sex? In the world of casual sex, there can be a kind of “blind” trust that occurs when intimately engaging with someone, especially if they are familiar. But the facts are, many STD’s can go undetected, making these precursor conversations and solid boundaries very important.
Lastly, chemical bonding has become a hot topic in the world of casual sex. Why? Because when two humans share physical intimacy, the body releases bonding potions like oxytocin, “the love hormone.” This can feel great in the moment, but it can also lead to unclear boundaries and confusion of the heart.
This is something I believe people can navigate throughout the course of the relationship, but it seems only fair to consider that these physical encounters are indeed “relationships” that will bring up matters of the mind and heart - which need to be navigated consciously. Perhaps it’s wise to consider that any “hook up” could be the start of something serious, maybe for one, maybe for both.
While all of these challenges are possible inside of a committed relationship, commitment can provide a stronger base to handle them. In a committed partnership, you're less likely to contract an STD, chemical bonding becomes a good thing, and an unplanned pregnancy might be a conversation in the works.
But don’t let me decide for you! I have seen non-traditional relationships and even multiple partners raising incredible humans! I have seen hook-ups that turn into lasting partnerships. And that’s the beautiful diversity of the world! My own journey around casual sex has wavered throughout different stages of my life, and different curiosities!
So, in this part of your life, does casual sex feel aligned for you? What are your values around physical intimacy? How could you become clearer and navigate your relationships accordingly?
Written by Megan Bloom