Unpleasant sex

A Scandinavian study shows that most single people have had negative sexual encounters.

By Jack Boulware
October 30, 2000 6:30PM (UTC)
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Have you ever experienced any of the following scenarios: having sex just to have sex; having sex without talking about what it means; having meaningless, alcohol-fueled sex; having sex with a friend, co-worker or someone from a social stratum different from yours; being sexually pressured or taken advantage of; having sex when only one person is emotionally involved?

By the time most single heterosexuals hit their early 30s, more than 90 percent of them will have had one or more of these encounters, concludes a study just published in the Scandinavian Journal of Sexology. Researchers even have a name for such scenarios: an unpleasant sexual encounter. And you thought it was just part of growing up.


This transparently obvious survey comes to us courtesy of the National Institute of Public Health in Oslo, Norway. The research team recruited 33 men and women from nightclubs in Oslo, and interviewed each person about his or her sexual habits. The results? Only three participants reported never having had a bad sexual encounter. The researchers also confirmed the findings of an earlier survey -- that people out looking for sex tend to follow a time-consuming and goal-oriented mental "script" of how the night should progress, and that this itinerary is idealized and mythical, and thus highly subject to failure.

"Sex is nonverbal communication about feelings -- but people fail to verbally communicate about what the sexual encounter actually means in terms of forming a committed relationship or simply sex for the enjoyment of sex," study author Bente Treen told a reporter from Reuters Health.

Treen acknowledged that people often feel enormous guilt after a one-night stand, and hopes that such research will help people understand what a quickie actually means.


"We want to raise people's awareness to recognize a 'good' one-night stand from a 'bad' one -- so that they may be better off at making rational choices about joining into the sexual encounter," said Treen, "and so the probability of suffering from guilt, shame and low self-esteem as a result of the sex, which did not result from a committed relationship, is likely to be lowered."

As a public service, in case the study described seems more befuddling than helpful, Naked World provides a common-sense way to cut through the jargon and easily distinguish pleasant from unpleasant sexual encounters:

Good one-night stand: The person is physically attractive, smells good and lives in a nice apartment.


Bad one-night stand: The person has fresh bruises, has recently vomited and lives in a trailer home filled with screaming children.

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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