A week or so ago, I saw this article on CNN and I'm still pretty pissed about it.
What a judgmental piece of fluff. Why deflect attention from the issue of using protection if you're at all unsure (romance or no) by simply vilifying non-mainstream sexual behavior?. Grrrrrr. I realize "hooking up" is mainstream in a way (as is cheating), but it's usually treated as something between a regrettable phase and a shameful accident. The idea that a young (or not-so-young) adult can make a conscious choice to have multiple partners at some point in his or her life is practically ignored here. If we treated multiple partners as a legitimate lifestyle choice, rather than something to be judged and abhorred (in women, at least), maybe young people wouldn't feel so uncomfortable talking about really important stuff like protection and STD testing. A better message to take from these "findings" might be: just because a relationship is casual doesn't mean you shouldn't take the time to be frank about STD concerns.
What irks me the most, though, is the implication that a romantic relationships is automatically risk-free. Just because you and someone love and trust are monogamous -- even married -- does not mean you cannot give each other STDs caught before you met, possibly even through non-sexual contact. Maybe the author of the article means to imply that of course you are discussing these things with your romantic partner, but it comes off as saying that this type of relationship is automatically low-risk, even though we all know that an individual can engage in all sorts of different kids of sexual behavior in a lifetime. Beyond that, it only takes sex with ONE person to contract an STD, so let's not pretend that just because you and your partner have only engaged in "good" sexual relationships, you shouldn't honor your health as a couple by getting tested and using protection.
I'm not an abstinence-only proponent by any means, but that philosophy actually makes a lot more sense than what is being presented in this article. Rather than sorting and evaluating "types" of relationships according to risk, why not encourage young people in ALL kinds of sexual relationships to be proactive about their sexual health?