Should You Have Casual Sex? It Depends On Your Attachment Style, Research Shows

When it comes to the topic of casual sex, you’ll likely get mixed reactions from both sexes.

Some say it’s confidence-boosting and empowering. Others recall their steamy encounters with regrets and sadness.

So what causes this difference?

There are many individual factors that could influence a person’s experience of casual sex, one of which is attachment style.

Attachment style refers to the way in which an individual views themselves and relates to others in intimate relationships.

In this article, we will talk about three popular types: secure, anxious, and avoidant.

In the context of romantic love, a secure attachment style generally means an individual is comfortable with both closeness and independence and is happy to enter committed relationships. They trust that their loved ones love them and care about them.

An anxiously attached individual seeks security and intimacy but has a deep fear that their loved ones will leave them and don’t really care about them. So they tend to cling onto others or act in a possessive, demanding way when their anxiety is triggered.

An avoidant individual struggles with intimacy and fears that others will demand too much from them or reject them if they show their vulnerability so they either avoid relationships altogether or keep their romantic partners at arm’s length.

If you don’t know what your type is, take this quiz.

Back to our main questions:

How does attachment style affect your experience of casual sex? And should you even have casual sex?

A study published in December 2019 looked into the role of attachment in the quality of casual sex and the motivation behind these uncommitted encounters.

They categorised casual sex into four groups based on the frequency of sex and the level of intimacy involved:

  • One night stands — Two people have sex once, never see each other again.

  • Booty calls — Two people meet up solely for sex, often very late at night.

  • F*ck buddies — Two people meet up mainly for sex, though they’re more acquainted than booty calls.

  • Friends with benefits — Two people are friends before developing a sexual relationship.

Here are the insights regarding casual sex for each attachment style:

Secure Attachment Style

Securely attached individuals, according to research, are most likely to get into serious relationships and prefer sexual activities with a committed partner while experiencing the most sexual arousal, intimacy, and excitement during sex compared to other attachment styles.

Not only do they not actively seek casual sex, they often avoid booty calls and friends with benefits. However, if they happen to have uncommitted fun, they’re less likely to feel guilt and shame afterward.

What does this mean for you?

If you have a secure attachment style, naturally, the best strategy for you is to look for a committed relationship as it will give you the highest emotional and physical satisfaction compared to other types of relationships.

But if you have casual sex for any reason, you wouldn’t have trouble handling its emotional consequence, especially if you have a good support system. All in all, there’s nothing major to worry about.

What’s left for you to consider is the usual risks of uncommitted arrangements — STDs, unwanted pregnancy, sexual assaults, and so on.

Likewise, if you have feelings for someone who you know are securely attached, it’s wise to build a slow romance with them and not rush into the physical aspect.

Anxious Attachment Style

If you have an anxious attachment style, my friend, I have bad news for you.

Studies have shown that anxiously attached individuals have lower relationship satisfaction and higher sexual anxiety. They also have fewer orgasms and experience more painful sex.

Moreover, this attachment style likely suffers from low self-esteem issues. They seek sex to feel reassured of being loved or out of fear of losing their partner.

They think of sex as a measure of relationship quality. They often put their partner’s needs before themselves and are willing to please their partner at their own expense.

And what’s more, the more anxious they’re, the worse they will feel after having casual sex. But that’s not all —they feel generally more negative compared to the secure ones across all types of relationships.

Interestingly, the study suggests anxiously attached individuals are more likely to engage in friends with benefits and booty calls than f*ck buddies or one-night stands.

What does this mean for you?

It’s clear that casual sex is detrimental to the well-being of someone with an anxious attachment style. If this is you, it’s in your best interest to strictly avoid it.

You think you already know that, but the real danger is when you let yourself get carried away in an undefined relationship, hoping that it will become serious one day.

In most cases, it won’t happen. It will stay as a series of booty calls or a long-running friends-with-benefits until you can’t take it anymore and walk away with a shattered heart.

The aftermaths can be brutal for you if you don’t actively protect yourself. There’s literally nothing good coming out of casual sex for you, not to mention all the other so-called risks.

It’s vital that you work on becoming more secure, find a securely attached partner to date, and take things slow.

Avoidant Attachment Style

Out of all three types, the avoidant individuals get the most out of casual sex and they’re also the most likely to engage in casual sex.

Though unlike the secure type who might have sex to make their partner feel loved or the anxious one who has sex to make themselves feel loved, the avoidant person doesn’t look for reassurance or closeness from sex. In fact, they try to avoid it.

That’s why they don’t feel particularly positive after sex in committed relationships or even friends with benefits. Notably, they have the highest sexual satisfaction with a f*ck buddy — moderate frequency of meet-ups and moderate intimacy.

Moreover, people with high avoidance have better sex in uncommitted relationships than committed ones.

That said, overall, they still experience less excitement during sex and more negative emotions after sex than secure people do.

What does this mean for you?

If you have an avoidant attachment style, having a f*ck buddy might be your sweet spot.

Perhaps it’s most beneficial to have this type of arrangement with another avoidant person instead of a secure one who probably doesn’t really want it or an anxious one who is in it for all the wrong reasons.

Nevertheless, if you want to enjoy interpersonal relationships more and increase your well being as a result, it’s a good idea to attend therapy and try to become more secure.

Depending on your level of avoidance, you could be honest with yourself and others about your needs and reservations, so you can find the type of relationship that is just right for you.

On the other hand, if you are seeing someone who is avoidant, think twice before you have sex with them — especially when you have an anxious attachment style — and don’t think much into it after you have sex with them.

Because avoidant individuals see sex differently from you: they don’t associate sex with love and, though they might seem to enjoy it in the moment, sex doesn’t make them emotionally closer to you.

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© Ellen Nguyen

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