How do American women feel about casual sex? Are we having it, and, if so, are we enjoying it or regretting it? To find out, we asked Alexa Joy Sherman, coauthor of The Happy Hook-up: A Single Girl's Guide to Casual Sex to conduct an online poll; nearly 3,000 of you took part. We also sent reporters to talk to the experts—researchers, sex therapists and the women on the front lines of love.
74 percent of you have had casual sex
"He's not going to buy the cow if he's getting the milk for free." Remember that one? Today's adage might be more along the lines of "Why buy the bull just for a little sport?" Almost three quarters of the respondents say they've had casual sex with at least one person.
42 percent find sex buddies through friends
The next most common way to meet one is at a bar or club (19 percent)—only one percent hook up through a dating service. About a quarter of you say you lost your virginity to a casual lover.
9 percent do it for an ego boost
Women have casual sex for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is pure pleasure (25 percent), followed by adventure (18 percent), the ego boost, and stress relief (8 percent). Many of you say such physical encounters offer a dose of companionship and intimacy.
Is it worth it?
Yes (about 50 percent) and no (the other 50). Around half of you say that compared to sex in a committed relationship, a fling is "more exciting," "wonderfully freeing," or "second-best to a relationship, but better than nothing." The other half say, "It's not worth it." The key to having a good experience, some of you explain, is keeping your emotional distance.
Only 25 percent of you are capable of truly casual sex
When we inquired whether you could have a one-night stand without becoming even somewhat attached, 25 percent said definitively yes, and 23 percent said absolutely not.
80 percent have regrets
Even among the empowered, in the light of day, after clothes have been collected a whopping 80 percent of you wish you hadn't done it—sometimes, if not always. There's the double standard that grips the culture with amazing stubbornness: A woman playing the field is "loose," if not a "slut," while a man about town is a "stud."
48 percent have become less accepting
Only 21 percent of you have become more accepting of casual sex over time. According to our survey, depending on where a woman is—geographically, in society, in her life—her attitude about casual sex varies and often shifts over time. So, if you have casual sex once, often or never, if you go from loving it to hating it and then back to loving it again, take comfort. You're in great company.
Test your knowledge! How much do you know about sex in America?
From the October 2004 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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