The word from America is that a majority of people find sex 'with strings' more enjoyable than casual sex. Condom-makers Durex recently conducted a survey of two thousand American men and women (the numbers of men and women polled were equal and all respondents were 25 or older). What the study found is that over eighty percent of people found sex more satisfying when it involved an emotional connection.
This isn't to say that some people can't have the best of both worlds - take the enigmatic actress Tilda Swinton and her well-publicised arrangement with her husband, whereby she travels the world with her younger lover. People find all kinds of ways to combine emotionally intimate relationships with sexual freedom. However, the study claimed that over ninety percent of people stated that sex was best with a partner whose sexual attention is exclusive.
So what is it about 'strings' (another way of saying 'emotional commitment') that helps some people to enjoy more fulfilling sex lives? It has been suggested that a greater sense of mutual trust enables couples to be more open about their sexual fantasies, which in turn enables couples to be more adventurous. When you know someone well, it's also easier to point out when something doesn't turn you on. If there is emotional commitment both ways, your lover's sense of personal investment is likely to make him or her more eager to keep you satisfied sexually.
Having strings attached does not make a great relationship alone (though for couples who enjoy BDSM play, having strings attached provides plenty of sexual pleasure in itself). A commitment brings along smaller and larger stressors, from handling money issues with another person and being mutually dependent to disagreements about leisure activities and much else besides. Casual hook-ups, however, provide less opportunity to have that stormy, angry make-up sex which often turns out to be the best sex of all.
Even if the majority of people in the US appear to prefer strings, this doesn't mean that everyone does in every location and situation, and sexual openness varies between cultures. Many couples find a way to balance emotional intimacy with extra flirtations, and find this strengthens their relationships. But different kinds of sex serve different purposes - after a breakup, for example, a good one-night-stand can also be a great ego boost.
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