"Try anything once," they always say. "Get a taste for it. See if it's for you."

The same isn't always true when it comes to casual sex. Often, we're bombarded with messaging that says no-strings boning is damaging — particularly to women — and that having it will leave us empty, riddled by shame and bleeding from some gaping void-hole where the sort of relational love we're supposed to desire "should be." That, or it's portrayed as "experimental" — i.e., something you only do when you're "young and figuring it out all out." Like in college!

LOL at that. For some people, casual, meaningless sex can actually be one of the more valuable, self-educational life experiences one can have. It's time we address the double standards, gender roles and general misinformation that keep us from having it.

Not everything has to have meaning or no meaning, it can just “be”

The first thing to straighten out for yourself as you read this article is that sex doesn’t either have to be meaningful or meaningless. There are shades of grey (and purple, and neon orange) in between.

"I don't believe there is such a thing as meaningless sex," says Sexual Intuitive, educator and expert Susanna Brisk. "All sex is meaningful, even if the only meaning is that both people really wanted to have sex. Pick whatever meaning works for you — whether that’s love, emotional connection, pleasure, experimentation … whatever. All, or any of them work.”

Translation? None of this has to be taken overly seriously. What matters more than the so-called “meaningfulness” of sex is that you got what you needed from it in a safe, consensual and fulfilling way. What meaning you do or don't ascribe to it us totally up to you.

With that in mind …

Meaningless sex can be a testing ground that teaches you about yourself

Because causal sex typically isn’t accompanied by the same comforts or habits that relationship sex, or familiar fuck-buddy sex, is, it can open up opportunities for you to explore your own boundaries. That sort of education about how far you can go with something is extraordinarily helpful when it comes to having more fulfilling sex because an awareness of your limits helps you explore everything up to them.

This matters with casual sex because what you’re doing, and the person you’re doing it with, are both new. Beyond explicitly telling each other what you’re not okay doing before you start fucking (which you should), you don’t know what each other’s limits are, and you don’t quite know what’ll happen. That means you can run with the more spontaneous things that might occur, some of which may be things you’ve never tried before. And that, children, is how you experiment with yourself so that you know what you're comfortable with and capable of.

It can help you be more assertive

Ordinarily, you’ve only got one night with this person. Maybe two; maybe 16, but regardless, it’s pretty safe to assume that if the sex is “meaningless” to you, it’s also fleeting.

That can really work in your favor, because the ticking clock can encourage you to be more assertive about what you want right off the bat. You don’t have the privilege of luxuriating in each other’s company before slowly dipping your toes into the world of what each of you are into, which means that straightforward honesty will get you what you want in the quickest way possible. Practicing how to do that will make you better at communicating your needs once you're with someone who matters more to you.

Having no inhibitions means you can really go after your desires

Sometimes, the pressure of winning someone over or maintaining a romantic connection with them can cause you to edit your behavior for the sake of keeping up appearances. You care about what they think of you, so you try to impress them with moves or posturing that you think they'll like, rather than comfortably asserting what you want and how you want it. The problem with that is that by being so agreeable and compromising, you can lose sight of your own needs, desires and the potential for fulfilling your fantasies.

That, and we don’t want to weird people we care about out with our exotic “an angel comes to me in my dreams and puts feathers in my ass” fantasy. In fact, the sad reality is not telling your partner your deepest, darkest fantasies is actually the norm. According to a recent poll, only 52 percent of men and 62 percent of women felt comfortable telling their at partners what their fantasies were.

Well … that explains why sex with strangers is so hot.

Thanks to a phenomenon called relative anonymity, it’s oftentimes easier to be yourself around total strangers than it is around people you care about. That stranger-intimacy is the exact same reason why we confess our weird spiritual beliefs to our Lyft drivers, bombard our hairdressers with TMI stories about our ex’s foot fetish, or talk the ears off the poor person we’re sitting next to on the plane (they never asked for this). By and large, when we’re with someone who isn’t a daily fixture in our lives, our egos relax enough to let a little authenticity shine through.

For that reason, it can be easier for people to let down their inhibitions and try new things in bed when they don't give two shakes of a shark’s ass about what their partner thinks of them. There’s less at stake — you barely know each other and there’s a lottery winner’s chance you’ll ever see each other again. Hellooo angel-ass-feather fetish.

It can help you break out of stereotypes

You know that stupid gender stereotype that tells us that women’s fragile emotions will just be positively reamed by non-committed casual sex? Or the one that says men are emotionless automatons who never feel emptiness or longing inside after a fleeting encounter?

These ridiculous gender roles are wholly untrue and exceptionally problematic. They teach us that the expressions of sexualities and genders that fall outside the norms of the stereotypes we're used to seeing are unhealthy or wrong, when, in fact, they’re very healthy and very normal.

Many women don’t need any sort of emotional or spiritual connection to enjoy sex. In fact, sex educator Heather Corinna's huge, still-ongoing survey of sexual experience and attitudes shows that the majority of women have casual, uncommitted sex specifically to focus on experimenting with their own sexuality, rather than to stoke some sort of relationship fire — 80 percent of female respondents reported that "finding out more about my sexuality" was the primary motivation for having casual sex. Meanwhile, almost 80 percent reported they wanted "to feel free/uninhibited” during sex … something you can’t always get in the context of a committed, monogamous relationship. 

Similarly, many men are overcome with emotion and desire for connection after something like a one night stand, an unexpected finding that was corroborated by another recent study which found men often get emotionally attached faster than women do, and fall in love harder as well.

Meaningless, casual sex can help us see that not everyone — or even ourselves — falls into the very narrow and limiting roles society gives us.  Breaking anachronistic expectations though NSA sex can help you shed the conservative roles that limit your self expression and lead you to a better understanding of your own sexuality.

It highlights that love and good sex don’t always go hand-in-hand

It's great when love and libido are perfectly synchronized, but for many couples, that’s more of a dream scenario than an actionable reality. According to a recent New York Times article, 15 percent of marriages are currently sexless (meaning the couple hadn’t fucked for over six months), a finding that reveals that while commitment and companionate love can be present in a functioning relationship, sex is sometimes left out of the equation. In other words, love does not equal sex and vice versa.

It’s okay to be in that sort of relationship, but the great thing about meaningless sex is that it bypasses this concern by focusing primarily on libido. And when libido is the focus, it can yield some profound revelations about your own sexuality and desires you may never have discovered had you not entered into some sort of fuckfest where nothing mattered but the sex.

It’s actually really good for you

Despite what we’ve been taught and the ideas we continue to propagate, recent research indicates there’s zero correlation between casual sex and emotional distress.

In fact, according to research by Cornell University, it can lower stress and lift self-esteem … if you like doing it. Further research published in Social Psychology and Personality Science found that undergrads who loved casual fucking had a "higher sense of well-being,” but experts tend to agree that effect is only true if you have the right personality type for it. If you’re a meaningless sex kind of human, it can be a healthy way to express your sexuality, discover yourself and connect with others. However, if you know it’s not for you and you find it difficult to manage without the pain of attachment, no one’s saying you have to one-night-stand your way towards self-actualization — you can reap the same stress-relief and elevated self-esteem from committed sex as you can from casual.