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Let’s talk about casual sex—from one-night stands to friends with benefits

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Feb 07, 2022 11:59 am Updated Feb 11, 2022 7:47 pm

Casual sex in this day and age may still be taboo, just like how female sexual pleasure is. But the fact is, these uncommitted sexual encounters—from one-night stands to friends with benefits—are not so uncommon than most people think.

Though mostly frowned upon for fostering non-committal relationships, sex with no strings attached between two consenting adults can be fun and exciting for some. And being able to walk away from a great sexual encounter without having to put one’s heart on the line can be empowering and liberating for others, too. 

During PhilSTAR L!fe’s “Let’s Talk About Sex” Twitter Spaces event, sex and relationships therapist Dr. Rica Cruz debunked the common misconception that casual sex is just having sex without emotions. 

“The scientific definition of casual sex is the uncommitted sexual encounters, not necessarily with no emotions,” said Cruz.

What exactly is “uncommitted sexual encounters”? Cruz further explained that these are performed without any expectations of future romantic relationships, no commitments. It’s just sex, like those of one-night stands, with fuck buddies, and friends with benefits.

One-night stand

According to American psychoanalyst and author Dr. Paul Joannides, sex with no strings attached is “as casual as casual sex gets,” which often involves sex with a complete stranger, like that dashing gentleman you met during a trip in Paris one fine spring day. 

There are many triggers for this encounter, Joannides said, but alcohol is almost always involved.

Friends with benefits

Individuals involved in this encounter usually start off as friends, according to Cruz, just like how the label suggests. 

Unlike one-night stands, friends with benefits interact in both sexual and non-sexual situations. This may involve hanging out, say with that office acquaintance or that college friend who’s game, but the two people involved do not consider their relationship romantic.

Can it also be with a good friend? Joannides believes it’s possible, and that it doesn’t end up as bad as most people think. “There are situations where friends have sex and then stay friends after they stop having sex. There’s no way to know how it’s going to turn out ahead of time,” he wrote for Psychology Today.

Fuck buddy 

Fuck buddy relationships are brief and less intimate compared to friends with benefits according to The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality.

This “just sex” arrangement is based exclusively on sexual interactions, and the sexual behavior is the primary purpose of the friendship.

Casual sex can be euphoric and thrilling but it’s also tricky.

One may enjoy sex in a casual way to explore one’s sexuality without the possessive clause but usually, the dynamics is bound to expire—when the “friend” or “buddy” decides to get committed to someone—or get complicated at some point when one of those involved starts to develop feelings toward the other.

For event speakers Ava Daza Zanirato, host of the Sexy Time Podcast, and voice artist Inka Magnaye, the key things to casual sex is the individuals should be on the same page and have a firm understanding that they are in it casually—straightforward, no commitments. 

Being in this kind of set up, it is important for one to protect one’s self physically (from sexually transmitted diseases—use a condom, need we say more?—and COVID-19) and emotionally by openly communicating what one wants and needs in and out of bed to help keep expectations at bay.

Each person has his or her own values around sex and the truth is, casual sex is not for everybody. 

Clinical counselor and Talkspace therapist Dr. Rachel O’Neill says deciding whether or not to have casual sex is personal and one should not be ashamed of it either way. 

“If you are the type of person who really values intimacy and views sex as something that happens after a relationship develops, then perhaps casual sex isn’t right for you,” O’Neill said in digital behavioral technology healthcare company Talkspace.

“At the same time, it doesn’t mean that you can’t experiment with your sexuality to see if perhaps you can find some element of casual sexual intimacy that works for you,” she said.

Owning one’s sexuality while taking the reins of one’s pleasures and desires is a chance to learn more about one’s self—including what one wants and needs in and out of bed.