Casual Sex, Explained (and Defined)

A study reveals the important difference between a one-night stand and a booty call.

Not ready for the commitment and the time required to make a long-term relationship work? But do you want a little more sexual experimentation and a lower risk of disease than you’d get from a one-night stand?

Behold, the booty call.

Stephanie Pappas at MSNBC shares a report hoping to unearth important details about modern sexual relationships. The study looks at students who have been involved in long-term relationships, one-night stands, and booty calls.

The booty call, as Pappas describes it, is a series of consecutive “late night calls to arrange a sexual rendezvous.” You go out, have fun, come home, call your “partner,” and then have some more fun. Rinse and repeat.

The booty-call relationship was the red-headed stepchild of relationship studies until the recent report compiled by Peter Jonason, formerly a psychologist at the University of West Florida.

Jonason gathered a group of about 300 students who all admitted to being in one of the three aforementioned sexual relationships. Each student then took an online survey where they answered questions about how frequently they committed specific emotional and sexual acts.

The results showed booty calls to be less emotional than long-term relationships, but much more sexual than one-night stands. In fact, booty calls were the least emotional-based out of the three.

Presumably, long-term relationships require hand-holding, kissing, and hugging. In a one-night stand, though, participants try to get all the kissing and hand-holding out of the way early, so they can get to the sex.

With a booty call, everything is pretty cut and dry. You meet somewhere, you have sex, and then you go home. And since the booty call happens more than once, the sex is more experimental because of the presumed level of trust developed in the previous meetings.

After all, how could you not trust someone who sees you only as an object for sex and nothing more?

The most common cause for a booty-call breakup, according to Jonason, was “when one partner pushes the other for something more committed than casual sex.”

Imagine that.

—Ryan O’Hanlon


  1. Check out my site if you’re looking for a casual encounter.. thanks!

  2. This — “After all, how could you not trust someone who sees you only as an object for sex and nothing more?” — is an oversimplification. I write about the difference between men and women and the casual sex that works best for women here:

  3. ahhhh the booty call. many a man and woman have resorted to this kind of no strings attached sex. thanks for the reports. i wrote an article with some insight into casual encounters at if anyone is in need of some “guidelines” for hooking up. keep up the good posts!

  4. what a waste of time.. I think everyone here is living under a rock.

  5. Dear God I must be getting really old at 45… is this what our society has become. What about this is moral?

  6. I dig that sort of anthropological/sociological study. Very interesting, because I myself had been wondering about the difference. Hair-splitting, maybe, but an intriguing look at how people frame their relationships, and what they mean from a value standpoint.

    On a more pragmatic level, at this point in my life…I’d settle for any one of those (grin).

  7. Everything relative I guess. Ms. Pappas has to define “modern sexual relationships.” In the seventies and eighties there was a “booty call.” It was called ‘sport sex.’ I wonder if there was any ancient research?

  8. 24 years old here. Maybe I’m just a sensitive soul, but even during a “booty call” I can’t help but feel some sort of emotional attachment to the person I’m having sex with. It may be a faint and small feeling, but I feel that any of these variations in sexual activity warrant some emotion.

    From what I understand (and I am not an expert) a booty call is usually between two people that have known each other for awhile, such as an ex or a promiscuous friend. A one night stand is usually with someone who you don’t know or just met (at a bar for example).

    Sometimes, a person just needs some good sexual healin’ , but I wouldn’t simplify that to an orgasm – I got that covered thanks! Instead, a booty call or a one night stand gives you that physical and emotional connection that you can’t get on your own. I think that’s what drives both men and women to seek a one night stand or booty call. Just my two cents though 😛

  9. Randy Strauss says:

    Marla, the 300 students were heterosexual so that would suggest the sample group was, more or less, even divided between the two sexes. I don’t think that there is any motivation to a one-night-stand or a booty call other than orgasm, unless you consider that some people might perceive the one-night-stand to be a prelude to a more permanent relationship; as in, “We met at a bar and spent the night. Why hasn’t he/she called?”

    Also, according to my 21 year old son, one-night-stands are now called “hooking up” and rarely lead to anything more permanent than a quick kiss and a “how are you doing?” the next time you see each other. When I asked about booty calls, he denied any familiarity with the concept. Knowing better, I asked about “soandso” from “thatotherplace.” He said, “That’s none of your business.”

  10. I am wondering of the 300 students, how many were female and how many male? Also I would be curious as to motivation of either gender (e.g loneliness, lust, desire for affection/touch, etc)

  11. David Wise says:

    They could have given the money for this study and I would have told them the difference.

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