Hooking Up: What Are The Emotional Risks?

Have marriage, monogamy and longterm commitments really taken a back seat to casual sex?

“Hooking up,” “Friends with Benefits,” “Hit it and Quit it,” “Cuddle Buddies” – whatever you choose to call it – has become the focus of many Internet ‘dating’ sites, and has perhaps also become more socially acceptable, or even expected, if not glamorized in today’s society.

If this is the case, what are the implications for the emotional wellbeing of our dating population? Is the notion of ‘no strings attached’ – “NSA” – really the epitome of simplicity and sexual pleasure, or could it be a nightmare waiting to happen?

Frisky & Risky

Some studies show that casual sex is not all that it’s cracked up to be. In fact, some reports indicate that people are often left emotionally empty as well as physically and spiritually distressed. In addition, the emotional and distressed effects can sometimes have lasting effects which may include the inability of a person to form strong emotional bonds of love, intimacy, attachment and/or trust.

Once someone has been a “Hook Up” for an extended period of time, they inevitably begin to crave more and emotions may become involved. It’s a natural progression of the emotional fidelity that develops when individuals continuously intermingle. This natural progression occurs when there is an exchange of physical energy along with the chemical hormones that are secreted from the brain every time people engage in sexual activities. These chemical hormones are responsible for “bonding” individuals together, which is why even long after we’ve stopped having sex with someone we still feel connected to them.

In fact, there are some serious consequences with a “no strings attached” sexual life that should be considered beforehand. Here are just a few;

  • Risk for sexually transmitted infections including HIV
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Potentially ruining friendships
  • Settling for less than you want and/or deserve
  • Loneliness
  • Depression
  • Lower to self-esteem
  • Spiritual conflicts
  • Inability to form healthier relationships

Right For Some People

On the other hand, engaging in sex with “NSA” can be just what the doctor ordered for some. The freedom of sexual experimentation is an important element to a healthy sex life, and multiple partners without commitment can be a liberating way to explore sexual preferences, try on different sexual styles, and discover what you want and need sexually. It’s also a great way to discover and explore sexual fantasies without feeling fear, guilt or shame. “Hooking up” adds variety to a sex life, keeping things fresh and new. It’s an ideal arrangement for those who are more focused on work or other thing and do not have the desire to be in a committed relationship.

Rules For Hooking Up

Having a sexual relationship with no strings attached can be an amazing, electrifying, over the edge and a breath-taking experience, but if you don’t understand or consent to the rules of engagement you might find yourself regretting the experience, or getting yourself into a very hectic situation. If you plan on having casual sex, you may consider some of the following tips before moving forward:

A Shared Understanding Is Essential

It’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the NSA arrangement. Each partner should have a clear understanding as well as mutual power and say in the situation.

Honesty & Communication Come First

Be upfront and direct regarding your intentions. Always communicate your expectations before getting into any relationship. Identify clear boundaries. If you find yourself developing feelings once you’re in the situation, communicate this to your partner as well. This will help to minimize confusion.

Find A Balance Between Physical Intimacy & Emotional Detachment

Remember this is just a casual arrangement. Expecting emotional intimacy is a sure way to set yourself up for heartache and disappointment.

Limit Time Together

This gets you into dangerous territory! When you start to spend more time together, someone will inevitably develop feelings. It also sends mixed messages and can create an uncomfortable situation.

Keep Your Feelings In Check

If you feel yourself getting emotionally invested, don’t convince yourself that he or she is feeling the same way. In fact, as soon as you notice those feelings rising without reciprocation, it may be time to re-evaluate the situation and either negotiate a change or end it all together.

Be Considerate

Don’t take advantage of the situation. If you suspect that your “Friend with Benefits” is developing feelings for you, do not lead them on. Initiate a discussion with them and/or end the situation immediately. Imagine how you’d feel if the shoe was on the other foot.

Practice Safe Sex

Never take for granted the importance of safer sex. Even though you think you know and/or you may not be having sex with anyone else, it’s still important to use condoms. Consider the fact that there’s no exclusivity, you never know who else they might be having sex with. Be responsible for your sexual health.

Re-evaluate Your Situation And/Or Agreement

To ensure everyone is on the same page, it is important to re-evaluate the arrangement from time to time. If at any time you decide that the situation is no longer in your best interest, there should be an understanding that either of you can walk away or end things at anytime.

Sex NSA is certainly not for everybody! However, should this be your choice, make sure that you approach it with consent and a thorough understanding of the rules of engagement. Whenever it comes to any type of sexual relationship, honesty and communication are essential. You must not only be honest with yourself but also honest with the person(s) in the situation with you.

If it’s a relationship you’re looking for, do not accept a sex NSA arrangement. Do not enter into a NSA agreement hoping to change your partners mind or trick them into a relationship. You will be the only one to end up being hurt and potentially ruining the friendship. If at any time during the sex NSA agreement you start to notice a change in behavior, it’s important that you address the change immediately. First, decide if you even want to continue the sex NSA then discuss if the original NSA agreement needs modification or if the best course for all is to walk away.

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Dr. TaMara loves nothing more than talking about sex! At the age of 13, she told her mother she wanted to be a Sex Therapist! Her passion is deeply rooted in spreading messages about healthy sexuality. Dr. TaMara is a certified clinical sexologist, sex therapist, best selling author and powerful motivational speaker with more than 20 years of experience speaking, writing and teaching about sexuality. She travels the country helping individuals embrace and honor their sexuality. Dr. TaMara has published numerous books and articles. She is the owner of L.I.F.E. by Dr. TaMara- Live Inspired Feel Empowered LLC-LIFE. Dr. TaMara is also the Editor-in-Chief of Our Sexuality! Magazine. Our Sexuality! is the premiere magazine for women’s sexuality and sexual health. Dr. TaMara is the National Correspondent and a “Thought Leader” for the Association of Black Sexologist and Clinicians. She is also a member of the American College of Sexologists International. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook at LIFE by Dr. TaMara or Instagram, or her Live Inspired Feel Empowered (L.I.F.E.) blog www.drtamaragriffin.com. Join Dr. TaMara movement of Healthy Sexuality #HowDareINot #ISaveLives www.howdareinot.com.


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