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A study of Northeastern University students found similar results: 78% of students reported hook-ups, but only about a third of encounters included intercourse.
Today’s twenty-somethings are doing what today’s 45-year-olds did 20 years ago, and, as far as this 66-year-old can recall, what today’s retirees did 40 years ago. Media reports imply that hook-ups involve intercourse.Over the past decade, the media have published breathless—and often ominous—reports of young adults engaging in “hook-ups,” a supposedly new type of casual hyper-sex in quickie, promiscuous relationships. I've reviewed the now-substantial research literature on hook-ups and discovered that the more the media (and some researchers) say that young adult sex has changed, the more it’s actually remained pretty much the same. The media did not use the term “hook-up” in a sexual/relationship context until the late 1990s, and it did not spread widely until 2006.Which raises a question: Did something change in young American sexuality during the first decade of the current century?Do Hook-Ups Threaten or Preclude Committed Relationships?Critics of casual sex consider hook-ups proof that young adults disdain committed relationships. When University of Louisville researchers (Owen & Fincham, 2011) asked 500 hook-up-experienced undergraduates how they felt about commitment, 65% of the women and 45% of the men said they hoped their hook-ups would long-term relationships.Canadian researchers (Herold & Mewhinney, 1993) confirmed this in a study of college students more than 20 years ago: How They Met, 1993 The two studies had different parameters, but it appears not much has changed.
Meanwhile, for college students, spring break remains prime time for hook-ups.A University of Illinois survey found that 49% of college men and 38% of women reported having sex as a direct result of drinking.Canadian researchers (Fisher, 2012) asked college students about alcohol and hook-ups. As I’ve discussed previously [7.1.14], alcohol is a major factor in collegiate and military sexual assaults.Some women feel used during hook-ups—some men do, too. Those who fear that hook-ups threaten young adults’ well-being often assume that soon after, many—particularly women—feel regret.But according to this study, plenty of young women participate not because they feel exploited, but because they to. Several studies have documented post-hook-up regret: about regret, ignoring other possible reactions.Compared with sober lovers, those who are drunk are substantially less likely to use contraception. Any romantic/sexual coupling can generate feelings of hurt and regret, but a study at Syracuse University suggests that, far from feeling victimized, women who hook up are typically assertive actors.