Casual sex does not cause emotional or psychological distress for young people, finds SPH researchers. The study began with the expectation that casual sex would be associated with higher rates of depression, more suicidal thoughts, and lower self-esteem. But after analyzing the responses of 1,311 young Minnesotans, there was no difference among those who engaged in casual sex and those in committed relationships.
“We were so surprised,” says Marla Eisenberg, SPH assistant professor and lead researcher. “The conventional wisdom is that casual sex, ‘friends with benefits,’ and hooking up is harmful. That’s what we’ve been teaching kids for a decade.”