Friends with bennies leave no emotional scars, U researchers find
In a study sure to raise eyebrows among scolds and radio talk show hosts everywhere, researchers at the University of Minnesota are finding that most young people who hook up for casual sex report no long-term emotional or psychological damage as a result.
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The findings are part of a long-running School of Public Health study of more than 1,300 people ages 18-24. In it, the researchers say there are no differences in reports of depression or self-esteem among respondents, whether or not they engaged in casual sex.
"We were so surprised," said Marla Eisenberg, an assistant professor at the university's School of Public Health who studies adolescent and young adult health.
"The conventional wisdom is that casual sex, 'friends with benefits,' and hooking up is hurtful. That's what we've been teaching kids for decades."
Still, Eisenberg says, casual sex is not to be taken lightly, and young people need to be constantly reminded by their parents and sex education curriculums about the life-altering experience of an unplanned pregnancy and the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.