Casual Sex: A Link With Depression?
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Is hooking up a positive or negative for 20 and 30-something women? Does it even lead to short-term depression? Well, there is research that supports both sides of the argument. Yes, a new study suggests that hooking up in college may be linked with short-term depression.
Some society's men believe that they are uniquely empowered to hook up with people or have one-night-stands. However, society is biased because women are just as empowered as their male sexual partners, and there is absolutely no reason for this double-standard. Women are just as game for casual sex as men are. However, there are studies that suggest that regardless of how happy women may feel after they hook up with someone they're not dating, casual sex tends to correlate with symptoms of depression.
In a recent study conducted at Syracuse and Brown University researchers surveyed approximately 500 college students over the course of 13 months. About half of the participants reported hooking up during the time period while the other half reported being in a romantic relationship. They discovered that the people having casual sex reported overall higher levels of depression and those in committed relationships did not.
There are many reasons this connection may exist. The people hooking up may have really wanted and were seeking a relationship subconsciously, and were disappointed that they weren't in one. They may have found that their actions were unsatisfying or found themselves going further with someone than they originally intended to go. Perhaps they may have been worried that their sexual activities might influence their reputations in a negative way. Each of these scenarios could have led to increased levels of depression.
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There is yet another way to look at this. This study only points out the relationship between casual sex and depression, but not the reasons. So, it is quite possible that women who feel depressed may be actually seeking casual sex, rather than seeking relationships. Older studies point out that when women feel sad or anxious, they're more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. We all know that one night stands can certainly be risky. But it has never been proven as fact that casual sex causes depressed feelings or if depressed feelings cause a person to engage in casual sex.
There is a positive flip-side to the findings. The depression only occurred in women who reported having hooked up recently within in the past month. So, this is not a long term chronic depression for life or even for several months. Yet the study does suggest to us that before we hook up, we should ask ourselves some questions.
What am I honestly seeking here? Men and women both crave physical pleasure. We all have needs. So if sex is really the only thing that you desire, then by all means, go for it. But if you're really looking for a long term, more intimate relationship, you're setting yourself up to be disappointed. When you don't meet your expectations, your anxiety and depression may increase, so analyze your wants and needs honestly communicate them with your casual sex partner. If this results in not hooking up, it may be for the best.
Before going out for the evening, are you sad or anxious to begin with? Sometimes sex seems like a great way to cheer yourself up, but it's not. It may feel great in the moment, but it can make things worse in the end. Casual sex may satisfy your physical needs momentarily, but it won't help you meet your emotional needs. Keep in mind that this short term boost to your mood will probably backfire come morning. Are you going to regret this the next day? This may be an obvious question, but take the time to do a reality check and really be honest with yourself.
All men and women have a lot of regrets. Sometimes every aspect of life can be is often filled with regrets – some big, some small, and others negligible, but still very much present. Things get compounded when it comes to regrets of one’s sexual life. Men may tend to regret the sexual adventures they hadn't pursued and women may regret the things that they have done in the past, but which conflict with their moral values.
The morning after a fun and passionate evening should leave you in a state of strength the next day. But if you've ever hooked up with someone only to find yourself feeling the blues afterwards, you're definitely not alone. In an ideal world, no one would regret their informed, consensual sexual choices or feel like their sex lives need to fall in line with what's stereotypically "expected" from men and women. Unfortunately, we're not there yet.
- Jeff Stein
I certainly believe, especially in the time in which we now live, that casual sex is more prevalent than ever. Men and women of all ages certainly value the physical pleasure of sexual intercourse and physical intimacy.
The highest numbers of new sexually transmitted disease cases are now being found in nursing homes and in retirement communities. Ugh, let me pause to shiver and get that thought out of my mind. Suffice it to say that the casual sex scene in elderly couples is hopping, but don’t break a hip.
As a parent of teenagers, I pray for them regularly and try to teach them often the seriousness of sexual intimacy in relationships. However, I feel that my teens see it more as a lecture than a training; at least that’s what their eye-rolls tell me. However, the awkwardness of having the sexual conversions is not just experienced by the teenagers, where parents are as equally freaked out by the whole concept as well, at least I am. However, awkwardness is not an excuse to never have these conversations. I believe that awkwardness carries over into the initial experiences that everyone has whether the occasion happens in marriage or not. Sexual desires are inherent for everyone, but good sexual intimacy practices are a learned behavior that take time to nurture.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, every one is different as far as preferences are concerned. I believe that a couple must decide what is acceptable and what is not. Exceptions come into play when the sexual acts involve someone or something outside of the couple involved or anything that can be conceived as demeaning by either the man or woman. The key to sexual fulfillment in a relationship is positive and informative communication. That is one of the key elements missing in the casual sex environment because there is little to no communication. It is often the ‘hook-up mentality’ of meeting at the tavern or club. It may be as simple as a text message for a booty call - Forget an actual telephone conversation.
The differences in men and women is illustrated wonderfully by Bill and Pam Farrel, in their book called Men Are Like Waffles — Women Are Like Spaghetti.
The book shares how men are compartmentalized like the waffle. Their emotions are essentially pigeonholed and they can move from situation to situation without any connections being formed from one to the other. No connections for the most part equal zero complications. However, if you are like me and enjoy the syrup part of the waffle, you have to fill every slot with the sweet stuff and that further complicates life with busyness and perhaps inappropriate relationships.
Women are described as being like spaghetti. Their emotions and relationships, and every fiber of their being, are piled up on a plate in an inter-twined jumble that is hard to know where it begins and where it ends. Every part of their lives touches all the other parts. So she finds it most difficult to divide and conquer her emotional world.
These characteristics are very apparent in casual sexual encounters. I believe that the female will walk away less fulfilled than her male partner due to this difference in compartmentalization, which leads me to believe that females would be more inclined to suffer from emotional and mental distress from a casual sex lifestyle, which could result in depression.
Building this casual sex lifestyle can create as much or more mental and emotional harm over the course of a lifetime than any physical harm that might occur. Safe sex isn’t just about protection from STDs or unplanned pregnancy. Safe sex should be practiced in order to be able to share in healthy intimate relationships for a lifetime.
Is Hooking Up Linked to Depression? It's Complicated. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2014, from http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-relationships/hooking-up
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