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Connection and casual sex: pros and cons

Let's look at the case for and against casual sex


This blog post was written by my friend, Michael DiIorio from Wellismo Coaching. It first appeared on his blog on 10 May 2019.

Join me for a chat with Michael in Ep, 13 of my podcast for gay men 'Connection over Coffee with The Loneliness Guy', which is available from 24 September 2020.

Members of the exclusive premium subscriber lounge on Facebook can ask Michael questions about this post and podcast episode directly. Want to join us? Become a premium subscriber for AUD9.95/month. Join here.

Remember to check out Michael's coaching work - predominantly for gay men - here. He offers a discount on his coaching services exclusively for the audience of The Loneliness Guy.

I'll be asking Michael about casual sex and connection in our conversation on my podcast 'Connection over Coffee with The Loneliness Guy'. Come and join us from Thursday 24 September 2020!

I know that you want to get straight to Michael's words, so that's enough from me for now. I'll be back at the end of this post with some final comments and links.

~ Phil

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Over the course of history, gay men have made an art form of seeking and engaging in casual sex. Also known as NSA (no strings attached), casual sex comes in many flavours from friends with benefits (FWB) and fuck buddies (FB) to anonymous (“anon”) encounters where there is no exchange of names or words between partners. Some say this is an indecent hedonistic debasement of our bodies that is rooted in shame and self-hatred. Others argue it is a wildly erotic sexual exploration that stimulates our most primal human instincts. I’d like to take a closer look at both sides.

Part of our culture

While gay men aren’t the only ones who engage in casual sex, we are the undisputed authority. And we have good reason to be. As far back as the days of Ancient Rome, men were having sex with men for pleasure and mutual enjoyment at public baths. However, by the 6th century, man-on-man sex was punishable by death.

From then on, traditional modern western society dictated that sex was a byproduct of an intimate relationship between a man and a woman. And so gay men and their sexual appetites were forced into the closet for the next 1,400 years. But we are nothing if not a determined and innovative bunch. Thus began the gay man’s penchant for discreetly seeking out casual sex, affectionately known as cruising.

Cruising is the practice of seeking out sexual encounters, usually anonymously, and often in public indoor or outdoor spaces. Popular cruising spots include parks, saunas, steam rooms, bathhouses, night clubs, and public bathrooms. For some it is a rare thrill, while for others it’s just another day at the office.

Forced into the shadows of society, our gay forefathers became experts in discreetly cruising for sex at secret locations like theaters, health clubs, taverns, and public parks. The earliest known records of cruising hot spots dates back to the 1600s.

Sexual revolution

Over the next 400 years, taverns turned into nightclubs and health clubs turned into bathhouses. But cruising and casual sex remained at the forefront of gay culture, reaching its heyday during the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s.

Gay culture of the time depicts a freedom of sexual expression not seen since the days of Ancient Rome. In the era of Studio 54 and Armistad Maupin’s famous Tales of the City series, gay men fled from the suburbs to urban centres to find their place in the intoxicating communal brotherhood of sex, drugs, and disco.

But the AIDS crisis of the 80s doused this period of unprecedented sexual freedom. Gay men were dying increasingly quickly and there was no cure in sight. Knowing that it was transmitted sexually, fear became pervasive in the community. Citing public health concerns, cities began shutting down bathhouses and cracking down on cruising spots.


These days one could argue that there is no need to cruise given that gay sex is no longer the illicit affair it used to be. However, there are still men out there who wish to engage in anonymous or discreet encounters for one reason or another. On top of that, HIV prevention has made significant progress that may reduce the stigma barrier associated with casual sex, especially the anonymous variety.

Regardless, most guys today use apps to satiate their casual sex needs, and anyone on Grindr or Scruff can attest to the demand for NSA and/or anon encounters. Cruising for casual sex hasn’t disappeared, it’s evolved.

For the purpose of this post, I’d like to define casual sex as sex with the sole intention of getting off; the partner is nothing more than an object of desire to aid in the process of reaching orgasm. There is no intention of dating, or developing any kind of intimate relationship beyond the sexual experience. This could include hook ups, anonymous encounters, or cruising.

Camp 1: casual sex enthusiasts

If you’re someone who has no qualms about sex without emotional connection, this is probably right up your alley. Literally though, it may happen in an alley.

It’s efficient

Sometimes sex is just sex. Sometimes you just need to get off so that you can go back to doing more important things in your life. You don’t have time or interest in getting to know someone and the song and dance that goes with it. You may not be looking for a relationship or have time for dating, but that doesn’t mean that sex shouldn’t be an option for you. There are plenty of scenarios where casual flings make sense. For example, guys who are either traveling, in open relationships, closeted, looking to try new experiences, or workaholics. The solution here is finding a like-minded guy who is just as willing to get off and get going. Mischief managed.

It’s erotic

There is something that is triggered at a visceral level when two guys spot each other and instinctively sense the mutual carnal attraction. It’s lust at first sight. Maybe not everyone has that sense, or maybe not everyone finds it appealing, but many of us do.

These spontaneous connections can happen anytime, anywhere, whether you’re looking for it or not. While this not exclusive to gays or men, I think we are the experts in going from admiring gaze to gushing orgasm in record time. The gym is a known hot spot for cruising in plain sight. Here you can spot the seductive glances and penetrating eyes of thirsty guys wanting to quench their thirst after their work out. Pumping testosterone, raging hormones, and the release of endorphins all contribute to that highly-fetishized locker room environment.

It’s harmless

If both guys approach casual sex with the same intention and expectation, there’s no potential for hurt feelings. No one is offended by an unanswered text. No one is anxious about the next date. The deed is done. You both got what you wanted. The interaction served its purpose, and now you both go back to living your lives. You feel satiated in the most efficient and satisfying way.

Camp 2: detractors

There are people out there who resent the fact that gay culture places such emphasis on sex, let alone casual sex. Even if you don’t share this point of view, I encourage you to consider some of these common detractor arguments.

It’s dangerous

Many people point to the health risks associated with casual sex, especially if you don’t know your partner or his status. They’ll remind you that STIs are rampant and tell you about their friend who got gonorrhea in their eye from a random hook up (yes, this is a thing). They’ll say that there are psychopaths out there (touché) who will tie you up, drug you, and harvest your organs until you wake up without a spleen in a bathtub full of ice.

It’s degrading

This is about having respect for yourself and your body. Detractors will say that your body is a temple and by allowing others to objectify it so blatantly shows a lack of self-respect that is rooted in self-loathing. They may throw around phrases like like fear of intimacy, fear of commitment, sex addiction, and insecurity issues.

For some people, there may be some truth to these points.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we sometimes use sex as a strategy to seek validation and improve self-esteem. Rooted in insecurity, this keeps us stuck in a perpetual cycle of chasing something that is fleeting by nature. There are more constructive and lasting solutions to handle issues of insecurity. If this sounds familiar, check out the Wellismo Library, where I can give you some useful recommendations.

Awareness and intention

In my experience with casual sex, after the elation of the orgasm wears off, one of two feelings sets in: satisfaction or regret. All things being equal, the greatest factor in determining the outcome of the experience is my reason for seeking it out in the first place.

Self-awareness is key. One of the biggest factors in determining your affinity for casual sex is knowing whether you’re someone who can separate a sexual act from the emotional desire for intimacy, or someone who can’t. This requires a personal self-examination of your intentions and attitudes towards sex and relationships. It’s not about right and wrong; it’s about acting in alignment with your intentions.

The thing about intentions is that they’re always there, whether we know it or not.

Conscious living is aligning actions with intention. Unconscious living is not knowing why we do what we do and then complaining about it. This usually leads to a significant gap between the results we want and the results we get.

So if you prefer sex to come with at least some kind of emotional connection, you’ll probably be left feeling with a sense of regret afterward. However, if casual sex turns you on from a purely physical perspective and your intentions and expectations are clear, then I say giddy up.


So is anonymous casual sex a vile debauchery or a titillating liaison? There is no right or wrong here; there is only what’s right for you. The fact is, all sex is neutral and only becomes good/bad or sexy/dirty when we attach our personal beliefs to it. Most people will fall on a spectrum between the two and that opinion will probably evolve over time.

Of course there are certain risks involved in casual sex, but that’s not to say that sex in a relationship is risk-free. Further, if you’re aware of the risks and can make a conscious decision that the reward is worth it, then why should anyone stop you? After all, we waited 1,400 years to enjoy freedom of sexual expression. Let’s enjoy it.

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Michael, thank you for sharing your post with us! I can't wait for the world to hear our chat on the podcast. Remember to check out Michael's coaching work here. He offers a discount on his coaching services exclusively for the audience of The Loneliness Guy.

I'll be asking Michael about casual sex and connection in our conversation on my podcast 'Connection over Coffee with The Loneliness Guy'. Come and join us from Thursday 24 September 2020!

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Important notice: All views expressed above are my own and are intended to support, challenge and inspire gay men to consider the issue of loneliness and increase awareness of the need for authentic connection with themselves, with others and their communities as an antidote to chronic loneliness. They are not intended to, nor should they, replace the advice of a licensed helping professional. Please consult the Resources page if you feel that you need the services of a licensed helping professional where you are in the world.

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