Care-Less Sex  

Couldn't care less sex

Couldn’t care less sex

Hook-up sex should be careless. You’re not supposed to:

  • carefully think about whether to have sex
  • choose your partner carefully
  • care for your partner

Ideally, you could care less in hook-up culture, says sociologist, Lisa Wade, who has studied sex on college campuses. 

Students explained:

  • Even if both partners feel attracted to each other, not physically but emotionally, they do not tell each other that.
  • The rules of the sex game is that you can never show your true feelings and insecurities to the partner.
  • None of the guys here want to be my friend… just a girl that they can have a one-night stand with… After they do that, they don’t care… [They] could care less about what I do with my life or if I ever see them again. Many times afterward the guy will not say hello or even acknowledge my presence.

In this dependent-on-no-one, lonely-while-together, “you’re nothing,” mode, sex is trivialized and emotional satisfaction is disregarded, says Dr. Wade, who concludes:

The problem with hook-up culture is not casual sex, nor is it the fact that some women are choosing it; it’s the sexism that encourages men to treat women like pawns and requires women to be just as cunning and manipulative if they want to be in the game…

Fundamentally, what’s wrong with hook-up culture is the antagonistic, competitive and malevolent attitude towards one’s sexual partners.

What’s so great about care-less sex?

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on February 3, 2016, in psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Most people in my life generally view hookup sex as careless sex. Who knows – it may lead to something later on, but at that specific moment, careless sex is a way people fulfill their sexual desires with, well, “no strings attached”. People often do not want the weight that comes with a proper relationship for various reasons. Some people are just getting out of a relationship – it’s far too early to get into one, so careless sex is a way they might cope. Others might not want the obligations that come with a proper relationship – no more excitement of the “hookup culture” with new people at parties.

    Aside from the logical reasons, there are some physical (biological) reasons as well. Careless sex is often well associated with alcohol, and when people are drunk they do not think straight, if at all. So in these situations, the mind follows a “sure, whatever” logic and just goes with what the body wants. Now, like I mentioned before, sometimes it leads to something. Now that the two people have met (and had an intimate moment, by definition), the relationship could grow into something more substantial. But on a hookup basis, the first time is almost always careless if the two had not known each other well beforehand.

  2. What I don’t get is having sex when you know it might hurt someone. I just don’t get the psychology behind that.”

    Most casual sex has the “potential” to hurt feelings so in that sense, it’s kind of blurred to me. I don’t think most casual sex is completely NOT careless. It’s not careless or doesn’t have to be careless in I don’t care about you at all. But it can be careless in that someone wants more even if some agreement or neither party discusses where it’s going and then have sex and then the man doesn’t want a relationship but can be friends, but she’s still hurt. Not hurt as much as a guy who just blows her off and doesn’t care what happens to her, but still the capacity to cause hurt. I think relationships are more likely where there won’t be hurt from wanting more or something like that. There can be hurt obviously from relationships but that’s usually from break ups or cheating, not from a one night thing and that’s it, because it wouldn’t be a relationship if that’s what happens.

  3. I think there is a difference between casual sex and what this person is describing as careless hookup sex. The few times I’ve had casual sex in my single days, it wasn’t with someone I was romantically interested in, but it was always with someone I was a-attracted to and b-enjoyed talking to. I only did a one night stand one time, so in the case of friends with benefits the friends part wasn’t just a figure of speech. It was actually someone I was friends with. And the guy above who said girls always want more…that is a myth. Men always think women are the Borg and we all have one hive mind. Anyway, I can’t imagine having sex with someone who I didn’t care if he got run over by a bus the next day, and the thought that I could be with someone who ever thought that way about me gives me the creeps. Why would someone tolerate that? That isn’t sexy.

    • Yeah, both Dr. Wade and I are making a distinction between casual sex and “couldn’t care less about you” sex. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Well a lot of girls that men have as friends are girls that they are platonic friends with so there isn’t sex to be had with that and most girls don’t like the fwb situation so it worked out for you, but many times it doesn’t for guys and girls and many times can hurt the girls even if they are or were friends. And you’re taking it to extreme with careless as in , I don’t care about your well being care less. compared to, I can like talking to you and care about you as a person, but not enough to where I hold myself from having sex with you if you want it with me even though doing so will probalby hurt you or not talk about what my casual sex intentions are if not asked. So that I can have the casual sex I want, because the girl may not be outright against it, but not so fond of it either and could bother her.

      I think many or most guys wouldn’t be getting laid outside of a relationship if they witheld from all the sex that could have potentially lead to hurting the girl. I think many or most casual sex is usually not so cool for the woman, as many want more even if they think they can enjoy casual sex, because it shows that most women don’t want it , because like you even said the one’s who do casual sex only do it for a few times usually or for a brief period unlike guys who do so or willing to have casual sex for a longer period and with more partners on purpose. You can chime in Georgia too if you want….

  4. “sex is trivialized and emotional satisfaction is disregarded”- True that, but unfortunately or fortunately, I can’t relate to this. Casual sex is something I think, better to avoid, it harms a person psychologically….

  5. Sounds to me that it can be its own version of conditioned sex- where some people are buying into the idea of what this is supposed to be whether or not it might be what they want.

  6. We should coin a new phrase: the care-less “to have sex at someone” vs the casual “to have sex with someone”… hmm, that does sound creepy.

  7. What’s so great about care-less sex?

    My take? Options.

    When I’m not committed to someone it’s nice to maintain a few different connections for casual sex, so that when I want it, it’s virtually guaranteed that someone will be available.

    The difference between how I work and what Dr. Wade describes is that I enjoy sex more if I care about my partner at least as a casual acquaintance. So I want to talk to a potential partner for a little bit just to get a read on whether they are someone whose company I generally enjoy.

    Plus, I have found that being a woman who enjoys casual sex is a very, very powerful position. A lot of men expected emotional attachment out of me and were very taken aback when that didn’t happen. They were so shocked that I got to completely call the shots for the duration of our relationship.

    • So far everyone who has written in has shared your sentiment.

      I’m just making a distinction between casual sex and “Couldn’t care less about my partner” and “can’t tell my partner how I feel whether I want to or not,” sex. The last two comments I quoted from Dr. Wade are key to making the distinction between casual sex and, “I don’t care about my partner enough to care whether I harm him or her” sex.

      It puts people in straitjackets, and is a frequently harming way of having sex. If you can have casual sex without treating your partner like the enemy, that is different from the casual sex.

      • I would chalk that up to a lack of emotional intelligence, mainly. Collectively, we are terrible about educating people and generally honestly discussing issues surrounding emotional and relationship dynamics. So we put people in a position where they really don’t have a level of emotional knowledge and maturity that they should have before they start having sex, but they have sex anyway because that powerful sex drive has a way of just taking over.

      • Yeah. The Sex drive. Plus people can feel some pressure to fit social norms, Or be uncool. In college they’re young and haven’t had a lot of world experience yet, and maybe haven’t thought things through — all of the possible ins and outs, or even understand really what’s going on, yet.

  8. I understand that this post is basis some study (which I have not gone through). But I am not comfortable with the generalization that Careless Sex encourages men to treat women like objects (or something similar).

    We need to understand that when casual sex happens (I am talking about only heterosexual and consensual sex), then both the parties are agreeing to ‘casual’ one time. Which means the girl is also doing it just to get pleasure and not because she is all emotional about it. The view with which both are coming together is mutual.

    I agree that there are a lot of men who actually treat women as they should not have. But, then there is a segment of women, that too does the same. We cannot keep using same sentence in everything which we disagree with.

    These are just my personal views, nothing to offend anyone.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. No offense taken. So far everyone who has written it has shared your thoughts.

      Just because it is sexist doesn’t mean that women don’t do it too. It’s a way of doing sex that says you shouldn’t care less about your partner. See what I wrote to Bob, above. Which began with a motive to turn women into pawns in a game in which men “score.” But once you create that hostile Environment, The women can do it back. If out of revenge, if nothing else. Something like Pogo’s comment, something to the effect of, “I have met the enemy and they are now me.”

  9. Well in order to sow one’s oats during their young days, they kind of have to “care less” or else get in relationships when not ready to or want to. If you’re trying to have some partners or add up some experiences, before getting serious and settling down, then you kind of have to hold off getting too caught up. Because then you’re wasting your time and the girl’s time, knowing that you’re in a relationship and this is not who you want to spend the rest of your life with. So many men and especially women get in relationships and it feels like it’s really done for to have a companion and almost so women can have sex, and for a sex reason because many women can’t have sex without a connection to a man.

    So a relationship provides that, but yet it seems like a waste of time. The reason is because for me, I can have sex without a relationship and don’t need that to have sex. But in the other sense, I take a relationship seriously. It seems like, many women must treat relationships like placeholding, because I mean ask yourself. How many relationships do women go through, whether short or long? A good many and how many are with a guy for 6 months, a year or longer or 3months? whatever? Same for guys too. And while they like the guy or maybe love them, how many actually knew or saw these guys they were with as “the one” or marriage material or who they want to or will marry?

    To me, there are a decent number of “good girlftiends”, but just a few “the one’s” and I feel you have some inkling of somebody when come across that is such a match that they could be the one for you. But most often, I’m pretty sure women and men are getting in relationships knowing who they are with was never the one, but just a “good girlfriend/boyfriend and then a year passes, maybe three years and the inevitable happens and abreak up because one didn’t see the other as the one. So they just wasted time in my eyes. When I get in a relationship, it’s not for shits and giggles and games. I don’t want to be in a relationship with a “good girlfriend”, I want to be in one with a woman that is amazing, a keeper and just great for me and I’m great to her and she’s ‘the one”. If I feel that, then it’s a good and I’m going into it for plans and hopes for the long run which could hopefully at some point end up in marriage. If not, whcih most often will not be, it’s a waste of time in my eyes to her and for me. I mean, if you hold out sex for the ‘one” then you will be abstinent for a long time and that is no fun and sucks. Might as well have fun or atleast non committed sex until coming across the one.

    • Well I just took a quick look at the comments on this post and most everyone who wrote in shares your views.

      But Dr. Wade – and I — are making a distinction between casual sex and care-less sex. At base we both think that was hurtful is to care so little about your partner that you behave in ways that are harmful.

      Here is the key points that Dr. Wade and I both think people should avoid:

      The problem with hook-up culture is not casual sex, nor is it the fact that some women are choosing it; it’s the sexism that encourages men to treat women like pawns and requires women to be just as cunning and manipulative if they want to be in the game…

      Fundamentally, what’s wrong with hook-up culture is the antagonistic, competitive and malevolent attitude towards one’s sexual partners.

      • But Dr. Wade – and I — are making a distinction between casual sex and care-less sex. ”

        But doesn’t casual sex atleast for men, in order for men to get casual sex, kind of have to be “careless”. Most women want more or will say they are fine, but want a connection, yet there are men having flings and casual sex. For a man to be able to do this, he’d have to not care a little or else he’d stop himself from having casual sex with the woman who wants him, because he knows while she seems fine with it, more often than not, she might be upset or want more.

        Or he might get feeling for her, so he’d have to stop or suppress those feelings from getting in the way of casual sex quest, because like I said it’s important for him to sow his oats a little before settling down. And sees relationships a waste of time if they aren’t with “the one” and if he’s not ready to be that serious then it’s a waste of his or her time when he knows the relationship will end at some point because he knew that while she’s a good girlfriend. She’s not a “keeper” or wife material to him or who he thinks is the one and who he’d want to marry or sees that potential from. Unless you mean careless as in, I don’t care who you are and never want to talk to you etc. Then that can be bad. For me, I wouldn’t just be like see ya and rude or callous. I could be friends or will to be friends with a girl I hook up with because she’s cool and she is a person with feelings and everthing.

        So even if not wanting more, if needed a ride to class or wants to go somewhere with my friends or something. I’d be fine. And I don’t mean friends with benefits thing, but could be platonic from there if so. It depends on the girl though. If I hook up with her and she’s kind of a “bitch” and not the nicest person and with attitude then I wouldn’t. You may ask why hook up with a girl who is not that nice? Well I wouldn’t be attracted to a mean girl, but I could have sexual attraction to a girl who is a bit sassy, but well, because she’s pretty and a nice body. Unfortunately guy’s are not that discriminative with attraction and lust for women when it has to do women’s looks and bodies and can override a mediocre personality. But that’s as far as sex goes. A relationship, personality is just as important if not more so.

      • Well, Dr. Wade and I are trying to make a distinction between careless and care-less: I couldn’t care less about you. And feeling like you can’t tell someone if you do care about them. And If it is just one-sided that’s a problem. The things you describe sound like they could be pretty hurtful to someone.

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