Casual sex, a feel good factor

Aanchal Mehra, a management student agrees, "It's not about being promiscuous, but having sex with a stranger can actually lift your mood. It happened with me once when I was going through a very low phase. I went to a friend's party and hooked up with this guy. We had a blast that night and the next day we parted as friends. I felt desirable and wanted once again, and frankly I felt very happy."

The trend is recent and something that picks up from the frantic pace of urban living. Often hectic schedules and lack of socialising leaves one feeling adrift and sidelined. Thus people draw support in whichever form they can or so observes, psychologist Surendra Mehta, Care clinic, "Casual sex is on the rise because of factors like loneliness, peer pressure, living away from one's home. It happens when there's no faith left in oneself. Think of someone who doesn't have a great job or a fulfilling relationship or lacks friends to bail him/her out in times of crisis. It is then that they fall on measures that they assume can lift their spirits for some time. Sex is more like an addiction just as people tend to eat a lot when depressed."

Women don't get carried away
Hollywood too swears by the benefits of casual sexual encounters. Leading actress Cameron Diaz for instance recently stated that there isn't a better way to get back in shape than hitting the sack. Studies too have revealed that women are less likely to regret an impromptu fling, if they feel gratified sexually afterwards. Most women don't equate a romp in the sack with a walk down the aisle. Surveys reveal that over 52 per cent believe their most recent casual encounter to be 'just a one-time thing'.

Says actor/anchor Pooja Bedi, "Having sex with someone you don't love doesn't necessarily mean you are committing a grave sin. The best part of today's society is that it is beginning to accept female sexuality. People have various things to lift their spirits, this is one of them, so be it, and it's human after all to crave for touch. And women, just like men want to enjoy their bodies. So there isn't anything wrong in indulging in casual sex as long as you know where to draw the line."

Manish Singh, a software professional, points out, "I think the key is that everyone wants to matter, especially to their sex partners. We have created a world in which we treat sex as a private recreational activity, with no moral or social significance. But when sex is a recreational activity, my partner becomes equivalent to a consumer good. And we all know what we do with consumer goods that cease to satisfy us beyond a point, we get rid of them. In this world of consumer sex, it is socially acceptable to find pleasure with people you don't love. But yes, no one likes to end up feeling used."

Casual sex to reduce boredom
Doctors claim that a session in bed with an unknown face can actually spice up your personal life. Although none would advise it, but the fact remains that it jolts you back out of your boredom and pushes you to being innovative. Says a doctor on condition of anonymity, "I have had patients who find no interest in having sex with their husbands/wives. In fact, they complain of being turned off by the very thought of it. However, a torrid fling outside marriage breathes new life into a sagging relationship with one's spouse. Does it really matter if you get back your stamina and feel good about yourself, even if your spouse was unaware of what went on behind his back?"

A recent study done by the University of Chicago on the sexual lives of adults reveals that housewives bored by their routine look for affairs outside their marriage. In fact, a one-night-stand often reignites the lost spark that may have gotten snuffed out due to marriage and monotony, a la Tabu who played the rebellious wife in the Mahesh Manjrekar's film Astitva.

The real picture
However not all is as hunky dory as you would like to believe. As Mehta puts it, "Sex with no strings attached is a great way to regain your confidence. However, not many people can sustain it. There comes point when you begin to see the worthlessness of the whole enterprise. Despite how much we claim to be liberated, people need a caring relationship all the time. Sex is an act that is over in minutes and cannot ever replace emotions like love and care."

Neerja Tanna (name changed), a journalist, reveals, "I completely believed in casual sex and felt good about it. But there came a point when I began to dread the act. It wasn't the act per se, but the time when it would get over. If the sex wasn't great, it was ok; but when it was exceptionally good, it was difficult to extract myself from that situation. And how do I not look forward to meeting that person again? So in a way I started feeling petrified about having sex with just about anyone."

According to psychologist Suparna Puri, women often get attached while having sex. The hormone Oxytocin or the attachment hormone makes them feel closer to their partner. So she advises, "Be clear about who you want to indulge yourself with". Puri believes it's alright to be daring and adventurous, but warns that the high doesn't last for long. Soon there is a sense of wanting to pull out and starting again.

As Tanna recalls, "I don't believe in casual sex anymore. Because I believe there is more to it than just plain fun. So today I have decided to seek pleasure and adventure in other things. And sex can wait till I get married." Well point taken.

Male power
In this entire cry about women and sex, it seems men are completely pushed away from the limelight. Could the reason be that sex gets easily associated with men and thus requires not much thought? Says Atul Suri,a consultant with an MNC, "A general conception is that men are more interested in sex. However, I think nowadays women are also free spirited while men are becoming conservative. I can indulge in sexual activities with anyone, but I don't want to. My friends of course do, but I think their outlook is changing as well. Today a guy wants to be just a one-woman-man, both physically and mentally."

Explains Puri, "For men it is no longer about sex and affairs. Men today concentrate on developing healthy relationships with the opposite sex. That could also arise from the fact that they are aware that the society is open to men having casual sex, so it isn't a big deal. However for women to do the same there is the pleasure of breaking barriers and also a sense of power. So it's more of women wanting to try out new things and explore areas so far a taboo to them."

The balance though is heavily tilted towards women. And though the freedom of body is a heady feeling, yet there are certain precautions to be kept in mind:

1. Get yourself checked for AIDS and STD frequently if you are indulging in casual sex.

2. Always, always use a condom or other precautions while having sex.

3. Having a one-night-stand is okay as long as you are consciously aware of what you are doing. You don't want to fall into the wrong hands and get beaten up.

4. Steer clear of strangers who you think come across as "weird". It is better to follow your gut than being sorry later.

5. If you are someone who gets carried away emotionally, then such affairs are definitely not for you.

6. Men take heed and check the background of the person you are going out with. You could easily be led to drugs if you don't watch out.

7. If you feel any kind of discomfort physically after an intercourse, see a doctor immediately.

8. Visit a psychiatrist if you think you are going through an emotional vacuum and need help.

9. Speak to friends, family and close ones if you think your loneliness is the reason for you to hunt partners.

10. Believe in love and care because nothing works better than these.

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