It has probably happened to the best of us—you make eye contact with a good looking gentleman at the bar, he sparks up a conversation, you let him wine and dine you for a couple of days, and the next thing you know you’re in bed with him. These days, pre-marital casual sex is fairly common among young women, especially college students—it’s almost expected even. And while some of these casual encounters may lead to a long-term relationship, more often than not they end about as quickly as they start.
It’s no surprise that casual sex comes with risks—usually in the form of STDs or unexpected pregnancies—but it turns out there’s an entirely new risk that’s now surfacing as a result of having casual sex. According to a study published in The Journal of Sex Research, college students who engage in casual sex are more likely to experience bouts of depression and anxiety.
The study surveyed about 3,900 heterosexual students across the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 25. Approximately 11% of them admitted that they had had casual sex as recently as a month before participating in the study—“casual sex” meaning sex with a partner who they had known for less than one week. Although researchers in the past have found casual sex to have a more negative impact on women, this particular study showed no distinction between the genders—men were just as vulnerable to depression and anxiety after casual sex as women were.
Although more in-depth research is still required to draw any finite conclusions, this study sheds light on the significant connection between casual sex and your mental well-being. It’s definitely something to keep in mind the next time you lock eyes with a handsome stranger on your next night out.
Hallowell, B., “STUDY: College Students Who Have Meaningless Sex Have More ‘Psychological Distress,’” The Blaze, July 1, 2013, last accessed July 3; 2013 http://goo.gl/F4VOr.