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Posted June 8, Reviewed by Kaja Perina. In a postI wrote about Ashley Madison, a website and app deed to help married people engage in sexual infidelity.
When I speak and write about casual sex among single people, I get a similar reaction. Many worry that society is crumbling because of "hookup apps" like Tinder, Blendr, Grindr, etc. They seem to feel that sexual activity without emotional connection and long-term commitment such as marriage is an E-Ticket to eternal damnation, depressionor low self-esteem.
Meanwhile, others think the current digital hookup culture is a great way to be sexually active while single, and maybe even a good way to meet someone who might become a longer-term partner.
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Only rarely do these studies for other possible causes of diminished psychological wellbeing. For instance, a test subject might be depressed because he or she just lost a great job, not because he or she is having casual sex and feels badly about that.
Similarly, pre-existing depression and self-esteem issues perhaps the result of early-life abuse or neglect might cause a person to engage in casual sex in an effort to feel wanted and desired, if only for a few moments. For that individual, is casual sex the cause or the result of depression and diminished self-esteem? Of the studies that look specifically at the relationship between casual sexual activity and psychological wellbeing, most hypothesize a negative correlation—as casual sex increases, psychological wellbeing decreases.
Of note: None of the four studies found a ificant difference between males and females.
Nevertheless, the findings of each study were consistent by gender. Research on the psychological effects of casual sexual encounters is in its infancy, and scientists are just beginning to scratch the surface.
Nevertheless, people do have opinions on the topic, and here is mine based on existing research along with more than two decades working as a psychotherapist with a specialization in sex and intimacy issues :. That said, you may face related issues like STDs, unwanted pregnancy, partners who see your relationship as more than just casual, etc. And you should understand that these related factors could adversely affect your psychological wellbeing even if the sex itself does not.
In young adulthood, for instance, casual sex tends to be more common and more easily accepted than later in life, especially if one gets married and starts a family.
What feels right at 20 may feel wrong at At the end of the day, there is no undisputed right or wrong answer when it comes to casual sex and its effects on psychological wellbeing. For some people, it is probably fine, and for others it is probably not.
Each person is an individual, with a unique life history and emotional makeup, so each person is likely to respond differently to casual sexual behavior. If you find that you are questioning your sexual behavior or lack thereofperhaps the best guide is your own conscience.
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If you feel comfortable with your sexual life and your sexual behavior is not harming yourself or anyone else, then your sex life is probably not going to cause you to feel depressed, deeply anxiousor otherwise troubled, and you can stop worrying. Robert Weiss, Ph. The pursuit of calm can itself become a major stressor, especially if you've already tried the standard prescriptions.
But there is a path through this conundrum. Robert Weiss Ph. Intriguing new research reveals who benefits, and who doesn't.
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