There was a general understanding among the participants that the four relationship types under consideration are temporary and can end at any time. However, none of the participants discussed losing interest in FWBs, which suggests that the friendship aspect of FWBs may sustain both individuals' interests (at least until someone starts a relationship with someone else). For FBs and BCs, communication often simply ends, signalling to either individual that the relationship is over. For example, "Fuck Buddies are more likely to just drift apart. Communication stops. Just goes poof over time" (Mike, sex educator group). The same is true for BCs as they are easily replaced.
Alcohol and drug use were also common factors, with 65% of those who engaged in casual sex reporting using alcohol or drugs before or during their most recent encounter. More than one third of respondents reported meeting their most recent casual sex partner at a party or in a bar, almost 18% met at a school event, 2% met on the internet, and more than 41% met though other means.
Context of how participants knew their partners. Participants reported that approximately 37% of their most recent casual sex experiences were with strangers or partners whom they did not know well, and 63% of those who reported engaging in casual sex reported their most recent casual sex partner was a friend.
Grello and colleagues found that among middle and older adolescents, the transition from being sexually inexperienced to engaging in casual sex was associated with greater psychological distress than the transition from being sexually inexperienced to engaging in romantic sex. (4) However, they noted that depressive symptoms were already present among adolescents who transitioned to casual sex, suggesting that such sexual activity may be an indicator of psychological distress rather than its cause. In a more recent study, the same team found that casual sex (but not romantic sex) was associated with symptoms of depression among female college students, but that males who engaged in casual sex had the fewest depressive symptoms of any group studied...
In spite of speculation that casual partnerships could be psychologically damaging for sexually active young people, our findings show almost no differences in psychological well-being between those with a casual partner and those with a more committed partner; these results were similar in the analyses using the dichotomous variable and the four-category partner variable. Interestingly, in the few instances in which post hoc tests detected significant differences, associations did not reflect a smooth "dose-response" relationship, whereby psychological well-being was incrementally worse in successively casual types of partnership. Rather, intermediate categories (exclusive dating partner and close but not exclusive partner) were linked to poorer well-being among men in some cases.
Using longitudinal data of virgins who had never dated, Grello and colleagues (2003) found that adolescents who transitioned one year later to romantic sex, but not to casual sex, did not appear significantly different in terms of depressive symptoms, delinquent behaviors, and victimization from those adolescents who had maintained their virgin status. However, adolescents who transitioned to casual sexual relationships during the year reported more symptoms of depression, participated in more delinquent behaviors, and were exposed to more physical violence. This finding was especially pronounced among younger adolescents. Interestingly, the constellation of problem behaviors, although exacerbated following transition to sexual intercourse, existed prior to transition while the adolescents were still virgins (Grello et al., 2003). In other words, sexual intercourse in the context of an emotionally committed relationship was not found to be associated with problematic behavior or functioning, but casual sex was associated with problematic functioning, and the problems existed before the adolescents ever engaged in sexual intercourse. Sexual behaviors have been strongly linked with depression, especially in younger females; accordingly, depressive symptoms may be a salient factor, especially for females who engage in casual sex (Welsh, Grello, & Harper, 2003).
University of Minnesota Project Eating Among Teens (EAT) researchers have found that young adults engaging in casual sexual encounters do not appear to be at increased risk for harmful psychological outcomes as compared to sexually active young adults in more committed relationships.