Keep your chin up on that next walk of shame. According to a new study on casual sex, there are plenty of reasons to be proud of your one-night stand.
The study, led by sex researcher Zhana Vrangalova, found that casual sex can be great for certain people. Casual-sex encounters can come with a variety of benefits, ranging from physical pleasure to increased self-esteem. These findings are especially interesting, considering that academics and non-academics alike have traditionally warned about the negative repercussions of casual sex.
But when it comes to sexuality, nothing is cut and dry.
"It's not as simple as 'casual sex is great for you!'" Vrangalova told Fusion. "We found that, for people who have a predisposition to desire and approve of casual sex, it can be a very good thing."
With up to 80 percent of college students reportedly admittedly engaging in casual sex, the impact it can have on young people's mental well-being is an important area of study. Vrangalova surveyed 371 college students to figure out how sociosexuality — or one's willingness to engage in casual sex — affects psychological well-being.
For those who were predisposed to seek out a one-night stand, casual sex led to higher self-esteem, greater levels of satisfaction and lower anxiety rates.
"Students reported feeling excited, pleased, sexually satisfied, desirable, proud, adventurous — a whole range of positive reactions," Vrangalova said.
In addition to her recent academic studies, Vrangalova's has created a casual-sex crowdsourced website to gather more information on the subject. The Casual Sex Project is a new website where people can share their real stories of hook-ups, one-night stands, f**k buddies, and friends with benefits.
"When people talk about casual sex, it's either 'It's bad for you and you'll burn in hell,' or 'It's part of the hook-up culture,' Vrangalova said. "I thought it would be useful to have people share their actual experiences. It's not so black and white."
Most of the stories collected on her site are overwhelmingly positive, with a few exceptions. Many of them are also pretty hot, including tales of threesomes and airplane hook-ups. It's like the modern-day version of the old "Dear Penthouse" letters. The posts are also entertaining (see: NSFW "Girl With the Dragon Attitude" and "Nurse F**ked Me for $50." Because of the site's anonymity, many participants share stories that they've probably never told anyone else before.
"We all like to share hook-up stories that are funny or sad, and a lot of people can't do that," Vrangalova said. "Maybe they have friends who are opposed or grew up in a disapproving environment."
Sharing stories, especially in written form, can also be therapeutic.
"If you write something that happened to you, it helps you make sense of it and learn from it," she said. "This outlet is beneficial from a mental-health perspective, too."
The entries for The Casual Sex Project have been rolling in since Vrangalova started the site three months ago. Head over to share your stories and follow on Twitter to find some great reads.
Alexandra DiPalma is a producer for Fusion Lightworks, Fusion’s In-house Branded Content Agency.