College Sex Talk

Real people real answers

A student from U. of Oregon wants to know.....

How do I know if I'm promiscuous or just normally enjoying sex with several partners?

Female, Junior

Dr. Caron's Response:

Promiscuity is a label that some people use to describe the behavior of those who have sex with a variety of different partners on a casual basis. Because of the double standard, it's more often used in a negative way to describe women. Clearly there are some people who enjoy sex with a variety of partners, and prefer to avoid getting emotionally involved. According to Gina Ogden, author of Women Who Love Sex, if a person engages in this kind of behavior in a responsible, nonexploitative manner, taking appropriate steps to reduce risks of disease and pregnancy, and emerges from them without negative feelings or conflict, there is no particular reason to judge the behavior as a problem. Sometimes, however, having multiple sex partners may be motivated by something else. Many of us have probably seen people engaging in random sex for reasons that are not always positive such as an unsatisfied personal life or lack of self-respect. Certainly some people feel a need to prove themselves. Multiple sexual encounters may also represent a means of escape or retaliation for a troubled relationship. In these cases, the person has the potential of creating more serious problems. Hopefully they can take a moment to look at their motives - talk with someone about what is going on and develop more appropriate ways to deal with these stresses. I suggest you look at your motives for having sex and decide.

A student from Jacksonville U wants to know.....

What's wrong with just enjoying each other's bodies - having sex for its own sake? Do people have to be in love to do that?

Male, Junior

Dr. Caron's Response:

Obviously, many do not, as evidenced by the fact that sex is a popular form of interaction among college students. Many couples have sex for fun, as a way to forget troubles and relieve tension. And a few couples have been known to have a terrible relationship in almost every way, but put their problems aside and have fantastic sex. Many couples cannot separate sex from all other aspects of their relationship, however, at least in the long term. Each begins to effect the other. Resentments, tensions, feelings of being used by the other, and fears in the relationship affect their sexual life. Some people who start out wanting just a fun sexual relationship often become emotionally involved without intending to do so. Emotional involvement leads to anxiety about what a relationship means, where each stands in the other's eyes, and what plans are in the future. It is hard, and unacceptable for most, to carry on a long-term relationship without emotional involvement. Recreational sex as such may not be a problem for some unattached, consenting adults on a short-term basis. However, when all sexual encounters are treated as recreational, sex becomes trivial and superficial. Many people can and do have sex without love, but many also prefer sex with love.

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