Sex Without Love

Depressive Symptoms Increase With The Number Of Partners

Sex Without Love. Healthy Living Magazine

Sex Without Love. Healthy Living Magazine

Hooking up for no-strings-attached sex is common, but it is not good for most women.

Sure movies, television sitcoms and melodramas re-enforce the idea that it is a benign activity, but when that point of view goes unchallenged the interests of women are not well served.

sexual self damage

More women than men want a meaningful romantic relationship to evolve from a hookup, and it is important to note that men do not typically turn to a hookup encounter to find romantic commitment.

Read: 50 Shades Of Love Life

In fact, when a relationship begins with a hookup, men are less likely to see the woman as a future committed partner. This may be because men report that when they engage in a hookup they do not want the experience to evolve into a permanent romantic relationship. As a result, generally the male holds the power in the hookup relationship.

Guilt, Negativity, Low Self-Esteem, Loneliness

In my work as a psychologist talking with adult and adolescent women, I see many examples of conflicts and disappointments that reflect this research. Women are motivated by connection, attachment and emotional intimacy.

They often tell me they long for commitment and feeling deeply cherished by a man in their life. Yet, this is one thing the hookup strategy does not afford.

Read: Sex, Regretted

Women are more likely than men to have anxiety during hookup encounters, feel guilt after the experience and show higher levels of mental distress than men. In one study comparing men and women, women reported feeling negative about their hookup experiences by a margin of two to one.

For women, depressive symptoms increase with the number of previous sexual partners within the last year. This means that those who have this history are likely to become more depressed with each subsequent uncommitted sexual experience.

There are exceptions, but women typically use a hookup as a way to establish a deeper more meaningful relationship with a man. Many women hope that having sex with a particular partner will open the door to getting to know the person better and, ideally, a future relationship. Women put a high value on relationships, much higher than might be portrayed in contemporary culture.

Read: Don't Raise A Good Girl

A history of hooking up often reflects someone who is deeply yearning for real love and care and yet has adopted a pattern that makes finding emotional intimacy difficult. The lack of authenticity involved in these sterile attachments leaves women deeply disappointed and oftentimes painfully self-critical as they beat themselves up for what they should or should not have done.

Adolescent girls and adult women in a pattern of hooking up feel extremely self-conscious about their bodies, their mood is often down or depressed, and they engage in repetitive negative thinking. They feel uncomfortable with intimacy, which makes it hard for them to both find a committed partner and to be a committed partner. They feel alone and unfulfilled. They have difficulty understanding their emotional world, which makes it challenging for them to communicate effectively in order to have their needs understood and met by the men in their lives. These roadblocks have women turning to sex not as a result of emotional intimacy but as a way to attain a short-term burst of relief from shaky self-esteem and loneliness.

Read: He Just Doesn't Care

sense of worth outside of sexual context

When hooking up starts in the teenage years and is the dominant mode for interacting with the opposite sex, the toll is cumulative and progressive. As the adolescent moves through each stage of development, it becomes more difficult to cultivate a romantic connection without the early introduction of sex. As the teenage years pass and romantic connections are forged through hastened sex, the young adult woman misses opportunities to learn how to develop sustained and mutually fulfilling connections with men.

If this pattern continues into the early 20s, the woman may be left feeling entirely ill equipped to manage the complexities of a long-term committed relationship. Developing a romantic relationship without the early introduction of sex begins to feel awkward, because she has not developed a sense of her worth outside of a sexual context.

Read: Vulnerability, True Love Key

the geisha syndrome

For some women, no-strings-attached sex means a good deal of effort has to go into suppressing the display of feelings that might be interpreted as in any way “serious” or “needy.” Over time this suppression takes on a life of its own, blocking honest communication and promoting superficiality.

Yes, some women are able to recognize this conflict and keep their best interests in sight even in a no-strings attached relationship. For those who are more vulnerable, the lack of emotional intimacy in sexual encounters means hooking up comes to represent misplaced hope giving way to the exciting rush of the next new attachment. Once established, the hookup pattern may be hard for a woman to break even when it makes her unhappy. Worst still, the pattern easily leads to faulty decisions about how to achieve and sustain mutually supportive romantic relationships into parenthood.

In my experience, I find those who maintain relationships where their needs habitually go unmet, have specific areas of self-identity that are not fully developed. As a woman cultivates a strong core sense of self, fulfilling relationships where her needs are consistently met will follow. By growing in this way, women are less vulnerable to one-sided relationships and more able to get what they truly want from men—authentic connection, sexual fulfillment and emotional intimacy.

Read: Are You Giving Yourself Away?

Jill Weber, a licensed clinical psychologist, practices in the Washington, Dcarea. Dr Weber writes a blog for and is the author of Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy: Why Women Settle for One-Sided Relation-ships. follow her on Twitter @DrJillWeber

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