My take on sexual paradigms: Friends with Benefits and the Hookup Culture

As a college freshman, sex is everywhere. We’re warned about rape and roofies, told what qualifies as “consent,” and surrounded by gossip (who slept with whom, what heartbreak ensued). The sudden freedom that college brings lends itself to sexual exploration; for the first time in our lives, we can have a partner spend the night without parental approval and we can conduct our sexual endeavors away from the intense scrutiny of home and high school. I’d like to provide an honest (if graphic) account of my perceptions of college sexual encounters, and I’d very much like for readers to post comments and provide their own perspectives.

I had a committed romantic relationship, which included sex, in high school. When that relationship ended, I was naive and vulnerable, easily tricked into a fling that ended up being about one thing, and one thing only – sex (it was a blowjob gone wrong). I began to learn the difference between sex and affection. After a while, I experienced an intense, passionate relationship which ended explosively. The sex was fantastic. Sometimes I wonder if I was in love with him, or with the sex, or with the idea; it was entirely dysfunctional but it was addictive and magnetic. That ended as my first semester of college came to a close; after a month at home, I returned to campus several days ago. A few nights ago, I drank. I ended up making out and messing around with a previously platonic friend. And now, I’m looking at a potential “friends with benefits” situation with him.

I think I’m more open to casual sex than many girls. And the FWB situation could be great for me; it could teach me how to be sexual without being vulnerable emotionally. Casual sex is generally seen as a negative by society, but – practiced safely – I see many benefits to the casual hook-up culture. If long-term, hormonal birth control (the pill, IUDs) are used faithfully in conjunction with condoms, the risk of pregnancy or STI is low. Sex outside of a committed relationship allows us to explore our sexuality and distinguish love from sex. Of course, there is still some physical risk, as well as risk of emotional vulnerability. Often, sex leads to addiction-like symptoms which can cause us to fall in love. But, if practiced deliberately, thoughtfully and safely, I, for one, think people could benefit from closer consideration of “non-traditional” sexual habits during college.

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