Casual hook-ups can turn into meaningful relationships: Study

Washington: Friendships ‘with fringe benefits’ or casual dating can turn into meaningful, long-lasting relationships, says a new study.

University of Iowa researchers found that couples that became sexually involved as friends or acquaintances and were open to a serious relationship ended up just as happy as those who dated and waited.

“It’s also possible for true love to emerge if things start off with a more `Sex and the City` approach, when people spot each other across the room, become sexually involved and then build a relationship," said UI sociologist Anthony Paik.

However, relationships that initiated as hook-ups had a lower quality score – possibly because some people are prone to finding relationships unrewarding, and those individuals are more likely to form hook-ups.

"The question is whether it`s the type of relationship that causes lower quality or whether it`s the people," he said.

And the answer is that it’s the people.

People with higher numbers of past sexual partners were more likely to form hook-ups, and to report lower relationship quality.

The research also showed that plenty of people date even if they aren`t interested in a long-term relationship - surprising, since dating falls under the romance category, while "friends with benefits" and hook-ups do not.

"In the casual dating category, some people think they`re headed for a long-term relationship, but there are also people who are only in it for sex. It basically brings `players` and `non-players` together,” said Paik.

“As a consequence, it raises the question of whether casual dating is a useful institution. This paper would suggest not really, because it doesn`t screen out the non-romantic types," he added.

The study is published this month in the journal Social Science Research.