Can casual sex lead to a satisfying long term relationship? According to a recent study, it seems that it can. Dr. Anthony Paik, a researcher at the University of Iowa, recently published a paper in Social Science Research that examined data from 642 heterosexual adults and assessed relationship quality and intimacy as related to how the relationship began.
He was interested in understanding whether the long-term quality of relationships that began as hook-ups or casual sex differed from the long-term quality of relationships that started in more traditional ways, by taking it slower sexually.
Although Paik found that couples were, on average, more satisfied if their sexual relationship developed slowly, this finding disappeared when having sex early on was statistically controlled for.
Couples whose relationships began in a casual sex context have just as satisfying of relationships as those who took it slow in the sexual department. None of the evidence suggested that the relationships that began out of casual sex were any worse off than those that began with the intention of starting a relationship.
The importance of openness
They key ingredient for the quality of those relationships that came from casual sex was openness to a serious relationship. The study suggested that if you’re selective about your casual sex partners, there can be long term potential.
I recently blogged about what exactly distinguishes a booty call from casual sex and long term relationships (which you can check out here). The booty call researchers indicated that women who engage in casual sex were more likely than men to hope for it to lead to something more substantial later on — when taken in the context of Paik’s results, it seems when those women are getting their way, they can end up with really great relationships.
Take home message
I suppose the main point to take away from this is to make sure that if you’re engaging in casual sex you really communicate with the person what your expectations might be (if you have any). If you both happen to be open to it going somewhere a little more exclusive, then know that it is certainly possible for a great relationship to form and you haven’t ruined your chances of satisfaction outside of the bedroom.