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Ten Things You Need to Know Before You Dismiss Casual Sex

Here's 10 things 18-year-old Phin Lyman of Wellington College, Berkshire should have known before he 'outed' himself as a virgin in order to make a stand against the 'casual' way his generation treats sex...

Here's 10 things 18-year-old Phin Lyman of Wellington College, Berkshire should have known before he 'outed' himself as a virgin in order to make a stand against the 'casual' way his generation treats sex.

1. In psychology studies, men invariably report a greater number of sexual partners than women, but this is largely because the studies are carried out on students and young men are eager to conform to expectations of masculinity. In contrast, when researchers trick participants into believing that they are attached to a lie-detector test, men report the same number of sexual partners as women.

2. Students who are asked what percentage of their fellow students had sex the previous weekend reply in the range of 75-80%. The real number is closer to 5%.

3. When Weaver and Herold (2000) interviewed females aged between 19 and 27, 13% had had sex with someone they had just met and 36% had experienced intercourse with someone they were not in a relationship with. All of them cited 'sexual pleasure' as the most appealing aspect of casual sex.

4. The anthropologist Helen Fisher has studied the hooking-up phenomenon in the US. Her research shows that most people go into one night stands hoping it will trigger a longer relationship. In 33% of the cases she studied, things worked out.

5. Jocelyn Wentland and Elke Reissing arrived at much the same conclusion when they explored the subtle nuances that differentiate 'One Nights Stands', 'Booty Calls', 'Fuck Buddies', and 'Friends with Benefits'. Regardless of gender, the men and women that they interviewed were much more likely to date someone with whom they had had a one-night stand, rather than someone with whom they had an on going booty call.

6. It makes sense. Booty calls are based on sexual convenience, but a one-night stand is a newly discovered mutual attraction, which obviously has the potential to deliver much more.

7. Psychologist Andrew P. Smiler believes that women understand this intuitively. In his book "Challenging Casanova: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male" he suggests that hook-up culture has taught young women to use casual sex as a duplictious back door to commitment.

8. In 1989, psychologists Elaine Hatfield and Russell Clarke set out to establish whether men and women responded differently to the suggestion of casual sex. They recruited a small group of male and female college students and asked them to approach members of the opposite sex and make one of three requests; "Would you go out tonight?", 'Will you come over to my apartment?" or "Would you go to bed with me tonight?". It was the middle of the AIDS crisis, so unsurprisingly, not a single woman (0%) said yes to the offer, but the majority of men (71%) accepted.

9. It's hard to tell whether Hatfield and Clarke's study proves that men have different sexual appetites, or that women are smart enough to realise that any man who would proposition a woman in broad daylight is either a serial killer, or a total creep, but in fairness to the men involved, we should also acknowledge that there is a world of difference between saying "yes" to sex and actually and having it.

10. What would happen if participants had been asked to follow through? In 2003, 'Seitenblicke', an Austrian magazine sent a good looking 28-year-old male journalist out onto the street to carry out a far less ethical version of that experiment. The journalist approached 100 random women aged between 16 and 50 in a variety of venues (hotels, bars, cafés) and asked them "Do you want to sleep with me?" He encountered lots of abuse, and one lesbian, but six out of the remaining 99 women agreed to his proposition... and he had sex with all of them.

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