Why some of us are laughing all the way to the bonk
People with pathological personality traits tend to be more interested in casual sex than others, a study has found
You may remember the creepy character Patrick Bateman played by Christian Bale in American Psycho.
The film came out in 2000, and portrayed a main character whose relationship with casual sex mirrored his perception of other human beings: dispensable, suitable only for a quick burst of pleasure, a fleeting tool to be used and cast aside.
You may also remember a film from six years prior, Reality Bites, which focused on a group of GenX friends (played by Wynona Ryder, Ethan Hawke and others) fumbling their way through their growing sexuality just before the turn of the millennium.
The film portrayed casual sex as a hypernormal precursor to the hunt for something more committed, with the one character, Vickie Miner, keeping a meticulous record of all the men she had bedded (at times struggling to remember their names the morning after).
These two movies show casual sex on either end of a spectrum that runs from sickly pathology to garden-variety normality.Now, a new study has found that people with pathological personality traits tend to be more interested in casual sex than others.
The results were just published in the Journal of Sex Research, and found that among a survey of about 700 undergraduate students people with pathological personality traits were less sexually inhibited than others and were more inclined towards having casual sex.
Lead researcher Peter Jonason, of Western Sydney University, said in an interview with online psychology research organisation PsyPost that “generally speaking, people with personality pathologies are interested in casual sex more than serious relationships” and that “these effects appear to be a function of what is called someone’s life history speed –which is how they express trade-offs between long-term, prosocial interests and short-term, selfish interests”.
It comes down to evolutionary psychology, and the speed with which someone is wired to procreate for the surival of the species.
Simply put, this means someone who has had an “unpredictable” or “dangerous” childhood does not expect to live long and thus has a “fast life strategy”.On the other hand, someone from a “stable upbringing” might instead invest in the future and carry out a “slow life strategy”.
It is important to note, however, that this is a very nuanced topic: the study does not suggest anyone having casual sex is pathological.
South African sexologist Dr Eve has said on her blog and in public fora that casual sex “is the most efficient way of having connections, a breath of freedom"”.
She has also cautioned against the stigma sometimes attached to it, pointing out that casual sex has been judged to be “slutty” and “inferior to the real thing”, with people being told it is “less enjoyable, not nurturing, regretful, and associated with drug and alcohol use and for people with intimacy issues”.
For some, it is just a matter of fun and pathology doesn’t come into it.When Vice magazine interviewed women on how they felt about it, a 21-year-old estate agent gave it the light touch some feel it deserves.
“I am too young for a serious relationship, but I come across guys who are really good looking and there’s a vibe between us. I do it for fun. It is fun,” she said.
Another recent study, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, found that dating apps such as Tinder did not lead to higher rates of casual sex.
Those who are interested in having casual sex do so at similar rates “whether they are using an app or more old-fashioned methods” to find a partner.