What I Learned From Having Casual Sex

Psychologists, sociologists, cultural critics, and lay people alike love to theorize about people who have casual sex. Is the Tinder-fueled hookup culture forcing Millennials to choose between meaningful relationships and NSA action? Can a f*ck buddy transform into the love of your life? Are STDs on the rise because everybody's screwing like it's the sexual revolution? Although there's no one answer to any of these questions, casual sex isn't going away anytime soon.

In fact, compared with the negative slant of research in years past, more research with a wide-ranging scope is being done on the subject today, most notably by NYU professor Dr. Zhana Vrangalova through her Casual Sex Project. Although some studies have linked casual sex to low self-esteem and increased levels of depression and anxiety, Dr. Zhana's 2014 study published in Psychological And Personality Science asserts that if you happen to be a person whose "sociosexual orientation" is less restrictive, then having casual sex can be good for you. This basically means that if your unique biological and cultural make up leads you to be open to casual sex, when you have it, you can benefit.

As someone who falls firmly into the latter camp, I've learned so much from the good, bad, and wondrous experiences I've had with hookups, and wouldn't trade them for the world. Although not everyone is down with it — and not everyone has to be — here are six valuable things I've learned from having casual sex:

1. How To Be More Body Positive

Learning to love our fleshy forms for what they are is often a solo endeavor, but frequent encounters with strangers and/or acquaintances in the buff actually made me less squeamish about my body. After a while, it stopped being such a huge reveal when I'd strip down, and eventually, I stopped caring altogether what the person I was hooking up with thought about my inner thigh gap or breast size.

2. How To Ask For What I Want

In a way, it can be easier to ask a committed partner for something you want them to try beneath the covers. However, knowing you'll never have to see someone again means you can be bold with your directions. Who cares if it's embarrassing or the scenario doesn't go as planned? I found casual sex to be the perfect place to speak my mind without consequences.

3. What I Do And Don't Like

Trial and error is the best way to figure out what really turns you on and gets you off. Having the freedom to experience different people and different sexual styles through hookups can hone your below-the-belt parameters, so when someone asks, "what do you like?" or "what turns you on?" you'll know.

4. Learning Tips For Different Techniques

Learning a new arousal technique from a casual sex partner means you'll always have that trick in your arsenal for the future. If someone gives you an oral sex tip that works for them, just remember that it might work on someone else, too.

5. How To Be Vigilant About Safe Sex

Although you can contract any number of STDs from one parter alone, the more partners you have, the more vigilant you have to be about safe sex. In a way, the time when I had the most casual sex was when I really started paying attention to carrying around condoms, getting tested every month, and doing all the stuff we should be doing even when we aren't hooking up 24/7.

6. How To Appreciate A Long-Term Sex Partner

Casual sex views vary from person to person, but few would disagree that learning someone else's sexual style can only make for better sex. Sure, a one-off can have explosively erotic potential, but it's rarely beat by a session with someone who knows just which buttons to push. Because of my casual sex experiences, I was able to bring my breadth of sexual knowledge to the bedroom and maximize sex with my long-term partners.

Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our video on sex positions for small penises:

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