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Casual sex may lead to rewarding relationships

People who "hook up" for casual sex can have as rewarding a long-term relationship as those who take it slowly and establish a meaningful connection before they have sex.

Casual sex may lead to rewarding relationships

People who "hook up" for casual sex can have as rewarding a long-term relationship as those who take it slowly and establish a meaningful connection before they have sex.

The researchers analysed a survey of 642 heterosexual adults in Chicago. To measure the quality of the relationships, people answered questions about how much they loved their partner, their level of satisfaction with intimacy in the relationship, the future of the relationship, and how their lives would be different if the relationship ended. The survey also asked when participants became sexually involved with their partners.

It was found that average relationship quality was higher for people who took it slowly than for those who became sexually involved in "hook-ups," casual dating, or "friends with benefits" relationships. However, having sex early on wasn't the reason for this disparity. When the researchers factored out people who weren't interested in getting serious, it was found that those who became sexually involved as friends or acquaintances and were open to a serious relationship were just as happy as those who dated but delayed having sex.

So if not the context of sexual involvement, what is behind the lower quality scores for relationships initiated as hookups? The study finding points to selection: Certain people are prone to finding relationships unrewarding, and those individuals are more likely to form hookups. People with higher numbers of past sexual partners were more likely to form hookups, and to report lower relationship quality. Through the acquisition of partners they begin to favor short-term relationships and find the long-term ones less rewarding.

The study suggests that rewarding relationships are possible for those who delay sex. But it's also possible for true love to emerge if things start off with a causal approach.
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