Men often have casual sex partners for one of two reasons: they're attracted to their partner but don't want to settle down, or they're using a partner for sex while searching for something better. While some women are only interested in a booty call, more often women use casual sex as a dating strategy for developing a long term relationship with a reluctant male. The impulse is to call these women delusional for not realizing they're being used for sex, but a new study out of the University of Iowa proves that casual sex relationships often lead to satisfying long term relationships.
"The study suggests that rewarding relationships are possible for those who delay sex. But it's also possible for true love to emerge if
things start off with a more 'Sex and the City' approach, when people spot each other across the room, become sexually involved and then build a relationship," said Iowa sociologist Anthony Paik.
Paik examined 642 surveys from adults in heterosexual relationships around Chicago. Respondents were asked how much they loved their partner, how satisfied they were with the intimacy level, where the relationship was going, and how a breakup would impact their lives. Paik discovered that how the relationship began doesn't matter as much as the attitudes of the partners when it comes to relationship quality. When he factored out people who weren't interested in long term relationships, he found no real difference between relationships that started slow and those that began as booty calls.
However, those who had a large number of previous sexual partners were more likely to form casual sex connections and to report lower relationship quality when they found themselves in serious relationships.
"While hookups or friends with benefits can turn into true love, both parties typically enter the relationship for sex and the expectations are fairly low," Paik said. "In the casual dating category, some people think they're headed for a long-term relationship, but there are also people who are only in it for sex. It basically brings 'players' and 'non-players' together. As a consequence, it raises the question of whether casual dating is a useful institution. This paper would suggest not really, because it doesn't screen out the non-romantic types."
This research suggests that those who are open to having a long term relationship are just as likely to find it from love at first sight as from a casual sex partner. It also demonstrates that those who are versed at hooking up with a lot of people, prefer this lifestyle, and find less satisfaction when they're wrangled into a long term relationship. So, while casual sex may work as a way to coax a reluctant partner into a long term relationship, especially if a surprise pregnancy is involved, the quality of that relationship will be low if both partners aren't originally open to being in a serious relationship.
The full study was published in the August journal of Social Science Research.