Society might have strict rules for when you’re looking for a relationship. Those rules are dictated by glossy magazines and self-help books. Rules like: don’t sleep with that person on the first date, wait until the third, you won’t find love in a bar and avoiding friends with benefits.
Not everyone adheres to these strict rules – either because they’re smart enough to make their own life choices, or because they lack will power. But they perpetuate society so much that if anyone does engage in a one night stand, they’re forced to have a “walk of shame”. The name sums it up – casual sex is shameful and categorically does not end in a happy marriage and mortgage.
But – newsflash – it turns out that the rules are wrong. Having casual sex, with a friend no less, can lead to marriage. The proof? Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis.
The pair have been in movies with this exact plot – think Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached – but it also forms the story of their marriage. In an interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM radio show earlier this week, Kunis said her relationship with Kutcher began as a casual, friends-with-benefits arrangement.
“Skip forward a few years and the couple are now happily married with a one-year-old daughter and a second child on the way.”
After they ran into each other at an awards show, Kutcher invited her to his house-warming party with the intention of setting her up with a friend. But that never happened: “Long story short, I didn’t leave until the next morning,” she said.
“Then we ended up having a lot of talks about how this is a huge mistake and how he needs to go and be single and how I need to go and be single. It was super private for a very long time.” But after three months, they decided to make it official.
Skip forward a few years and the couple are now happily married with a one-year-old daughter and a second child on the way.
It is perhaps the most refreshingly honest love story to come out of Hollywood, but in the wider world, it is not an anomaly. A 26-year-old friend has been in a relationship with her boyfriend for six years now. They met at university after sleeping together during freshers’ week.
“Ultimately if two people get together and they’re happy and respectful of each other, than what’s the problem?”
“I was really embarrassed that we had a one-night stand,” she tells me. “Especially when we started seeing each other seriously and people asked how we met. It’s not exactly a romantic story. But we’re moving in together now, so I think it shows that you can start a relationship with drunken casual sex. We had a spark and it just showed us that.”
Others tell me they have married someone they had a one-night stand with, or know of at least several others who do. But even though it ended in happiness, no one wants to speak about it publicly because they’re ashamed.
Dating expert Suzie Parkus tells me they shouldn’t be: “The only reason that feeling comes about is because of society’s pressure, that there are ‘ways you should meet’. There’s a massive judgment placed on those who are ‘too casual’.”
She personally is “old-fashioned” in her views to casual sex, but says: “It depends where you are in your journey. People are a little more free spirited when they’re younger and when they’re older they become a bit more selective.”
Typically she says men are more open to the idea of casual sex becoming something serious, while women feel they must do it the ‘right way’, but says that could change. “Look at how many people didn’t want to admit they met online when internet dating started out? Now people are happy to say they met on Tinder.
“It’s about people getting used to new ideas, and people stopping being so judgmental. Ultimately if two people get together and they’re happy and respectful of each other, than what’s the problem?”