Researchers from the University of Minnesota were looking into the impact that sexual relationships have on the emotional wellbeing of people aged 18 to 24.
They had expected to find that casual sex can be emotionally damaging, but were surprised to find that this is not the case at all.
More than 1,300 young adults were questioned on their sex lives, their self esteem and their emotional state.
Around one fifth said their last sexual encounter was a casual one, while four fifths were in a committed relationship.
However, the emotional wellbeing of the former group was found to be no different to that of the latter.
Commenting on the findings, Marla Eisenberg from the university’s school of public health said they discredit the commonly-held view that having one night stands and ‘friends with benefits’ is hurtful.
But according to Kathlyn Wilkinson, sexual health education coordinator at Purdue University, women in casual relationships are more likely than men to want the relationship to evolve over time.