Sex Researcher Jocelyn Wentland Talks Casual Sex
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your research
To date, my research has focused primarily on casual sex and highly sexual women. For my undergraduate thesis, I examined reasons why women engage in casual sex and have continued this line of research for my dissertation research. However, I’m now focusing on definitions of casual sex relationships (What is a Booty Call? Are Fuck Buddies the same as Friends with Benefits?). I’ve also done some work with a colleague on how technology is changing the modern dating script.
Why did you choose this field of study?
I have always been a curious kitten. During my undergrad, I took a sexuality course and was immediately turned on to this subject. It’s a fascinating topic to study and the more I learn, the more I realize I still have to learn.
What is casual sex?
The typical definition that I use in my research is “sexual activity that takes place outside the context of a committed relationship.” I don’t specify the activity because ‘sex’ means different things to different people.
Who engages in casual sex? Is it a type of person? Gender?
Many different researchers have explored this question, from a variety of angles. The short answer: I don’t think there is any ‘type’ of person that engages in casual sex. For many people, casual sex is opportunistic and if the right partner/situation presents itself, they are into it. The only specific finding in the literature is that people who have a high Sociosexual Orientation Index (SOI) are open to casual sex, sex without a relationship, sex with someone they are not in love with.
Does casual sex benefit a person physiologically & emotionally or does it set them back?
What a person gets out of casual sex really depends on their expectations. If the expectation is to use casual sex to start a relationship with someone, I think that may end in some disappointment. Andboth men and women do this, by the way.
Why do people engage in casual sex?
I think people engage in casual sex for reasons that people engage in sex for: they’re horny, they want to be intimate with someone, they are adventurous, they want a self-esteem boost, they like the variety of having sex with new people….the list goes on! Different strokes for different folks.
Do you find that casual sex is on the increase?
Casual sex is definitely not a new phenomenon. What is new is our language to discuss it (e.g., the terms Booty Call or Friends with Benefits) and society’s openness to discuss it in ways that weren’t seen previously.
Do you think casual sex relationships can develop into more?
Well how about this…you go on a few dates with someone and quickly realize that you don’t really connect with that person but you’re still kinda into him/her. Perhaps that person becomes a Booty Call. Same with casual sex. You end up hooking-up a few times and then it starts developing into something less casual and more real relationship style. It’s tricky if either partner uses a casual sex relationship for the purpose of starting something more – those are tricky waters to traverse and may not end well for either partner. My suggestion is that people who are having sex need to talk about what’s going on – regardless of how casual it is – to ensure that both people are on the same page and that their expectations are similar.
Jocelyn Wentland is a Sex Researcher and PhD student at the University of Ottawa, Canada. Her research focuses on the ins and outs of casual sex, technology and the modern dating script as well as all aspects of sex education. You can find more from Jocelyn on her web site http://sexresearchandthecity.com/ and make sure to follow her on Twitter @JocelynWentland
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