Casual sex is sexual activity that takes places outside a romantic relationship and implies an absence of commitment, emotional attachment, or familiarity between sexual partners. Examples are sex in casual relationships, one-night stands, extramarital sex, prostitution, or swinging.
Social norms and moral concernsEdit
Attitudes to casual sex range from conservative and religious views, the extreme of which may result in imprisonment or even capital punishment for sexual relations outside heterosexual marriage, to liberal or libertarian views, the extreme of which is free love.
During the sexual revolution in the United States and Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, social attitudes to sexual issues underwent considerable changes. The advent of the pill and other forms of birth control, the Women's Liberation movement, and the legalization of abortion in many countries are believed to have led to a wider practice of casual sex. Most religions disapprove of sex outside marriage (see religion and sexuality), although the consequences may be very serious, or none. Also, marriage is defined in quite different ways in different cultures, for example, with "short-term marriage" (see Nikah mut'ah) a cover for prostitution, or polygamy.
Swingers in the lifestyle engage in casual sex with others for a variety of reasons. For many, an advantage is the increased quality, quantity and frequency of sex. Some swingers engage in casual sex to add variety into their otherwise conventional sex lives or for curiosity. Swingers who engage in casual sex maintain that sex among swingers is often more frank and deliberative and therefore more honest than infidelity. Some couples see swinging as a healthy outlet and means to strengthen their relationship. Others regard such activities as merely social and recreational interaction with others. A swinger party or partner-swapping party is a gathering at which individuals or couples in a committed relationship can engage in sexual activities with others as a recreational or social activity. Swinging can take place in various contexts, ranging from a spontaneous sexual activity at an informal social gathering of friends to a regular social gathering in a sex club (or swinger club), private residence, or other pre-arranged location such as a hotel, a resort, or a cruise ship.
A study of hooking up at the University of Iowa found that waiting to have sex doesn't contribute to a stronger future relationship. Instead, they found that what mattered most was the goal individuals had going into a relationship. Individuals who started by hooking up tended to develop a full relationship later on if that was their goal going in.
In some Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Oman, Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Yemen, any form of sexual activity outside marriage is illegal.
A 1995 study of Canadian students who had traveled to Florida for spring break, found the key elements of a spring break vacation to include a group holiday with friends traveling and rooming together, a perpetual party atmosphere, high alcohol consumption, sexually suggestive contests and displays, and the perception that casual sex is common. Overall, there was a perception that sexual norms are far more permissive on spring break vacation than at home, providing an atmosphere of greater sexual freedom and the opportunity for engaging in new sexual experiences. Of the 681 students who completed a questionnaire after the break, 15% of males and 13% of females had engaged in casual sex during the break.
A one-night stand is a single sexual encounter between individuals, where at least one of the parties has no immediate intention or expectation of establishing a longer-term sexual or romantic relationship. Anonymous sex is a form of one-night stand or casual sex between people who have very little or no history with each other, often engaging in sexual activity on the same day of their meeting and usually never seeing each other again afterwards.
Friends with benefits is where two people have sex with someone they generally consider a friend or someone they are fairly close to. They are not in an exclusive romantic relationship with that person and probably never will be. The involved parties may have a degree of emotional attachment but do not want, for whatever reason, to have "strings attached". However, a 2011 study published in The Journal of Sex Research found 2 out of 5 single women and 1 out of 5 single men in "friends with benefits" relationships hoped that their relationship would eventually turn into a full-fledged romance. This stands in contrast to swinger couples who are already in committed relationships and are only seeking compatible friends with whom they can engage in recreational sex.
Recreational or social sex refer to sexual activities that focus on sexual pleasure without a romantic emotional aspect or commitment. Recreational sex can take place in a number of contexts: for example, in an open marriage, among swingers (where sex is viewed as a social occasion), or in an open relationship.
A hookup (colloquial American English) is a casual sexual encounter involving physical pleasure without necessarily including emotional bonding or long-term commitment; it can range from kissing (for example, making out) to other sexual activities. Hooking up became a widespread practice among young people in the 1980s and 1990s. Researchers say that what differentiates hooking up from casual sex in previous generations of young people is the "virtual disappearance" of dating, which had been dominant from the postwar period onwards. Today, researchers say, casual sex rather than dating is the primary path for young people into having a relationship. With the use of apps becoming more common it has become easier to hookup or meet others for sexual activity. With students, studies have shown that the group most likely to engage in casual sex are white middle or upper-class heterosexuals. Black and Latino students are less likely to hook up, as are evangelical Christian students and working-class students. Data on gay and lesbian students show mixed results, as some research shows that they engage in hookups at the same rate as heterosexual students while others suggest that it occurs less due to college parties not always being gay-friendly, as most hookups occur at such gatherings.
Many specialist online dating services or other Internet websites, known as "adult personals" or "adult matching" sites, cater to people looking for a purely physical relationship, without emotional attachments. These can provide a relatively anonymous forum where people who are geographically close but in totally separate work and social circles can make contact.
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