There is one thing that always always happens after a break up.
No matter the nature of the breakup – whether it’s tissue inducing or I’m-now-actually-Beyonce-and-f**k-you-and-the-entire-male-species-for-the-rest-of-eternity attitude inducing – one thing is always the same…
“Ohhh now you can go out and let loose! You’re not tied to anyone. You can have sex with whomever you please. Go out and go crazy, girl. Make the most of it. This is what you’ve been waiting for.”
Have I? Have I… really?
(More often than not it’s people who are in committed, long-term relationships that are spouting this advice. Funny that.)
The pressure is real. It comes from friends to anyone who is newly-single. They want you to forget the heartbreak and worry and division of possessions in a storm of passions and crazy, you-only-live-once anecdotes.
It also comes from rom coms and pop culture. The single girl is always the ‘rebel’ who is dancing and laughing and independent and having amazing sex with strangers without a name. That’s just what single girls do.
I put pressure on myself to be having it when I was younger (because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be doing) and I didn’t like it that much. But I really liked being able to leave / ask them to leave if I felt like it. Sometimes you just don’t want to spoon. – Mary, 27.
I’ve been single for six years now and my romantic life is nothing like Sex and the City – Amy, 24.
My self-imposed pressure came from a place of “I’m supposed to have so many funny stories and wild sexual adventures!” But actually I’m just a really awkward person that would rather watch a teen series in bed than have below-average sex with a stranger. And that’s cool too. – Kate, 29.
At first, you’re likely all for it. Hell, yes I can do whatever I like with whomever I like. Nothing’s going to stop me.
But how long before the novelty wears off? Does it ever?
How much do we actually enjoy casual sex?
Research shows us (somewhat predictably) that men enjoy casual sex more than women when it comes to the act itself. That 80 per cent of undergraduate university students partake in casual sex. But, where men are left with feelings of satisfaction, women are often left with feelings of sexual regret and low self-esteem.
Sure, both men and women can leave casual sex feeling depressed or used, as The Guardian reported. In a study of 832 university students, 26 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men felt positive after having casual sex. While nearly half of women, and a quarter of men, felt negatively about the experience.
But research out of Canada showed that when men do have regrets around a casual hookup, it’s often about the opportunities they’ve missed, or based on the performance of their partner. Women’s regrets are more personal. Tied in with their self-worth and feelings of shame.