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“Hooking up” in Hopes of Real Romance

College used to be a time when dating was rampant. But now 60% of all college students are female and 40 % are male. There doesn’t seem to be enough males to go around. Women have given in to what everyone else is doing. That is hooking up. A hook up is when you go out, meet someone and have sex just for one night. No strings attached, sex is casual and knowing them or their name is not necessary. In fact the majority of hook ups are done under the influence of alcohol so it is likely that if you did know their name you wouldn’t be able to remember it the next day.

In a recent article, Carolyn Bradshaw, from James Madison University in Virginia, explored factors that motivate college men and women to hook up or to date, as well as the perceived relative benefits and costs of the two practices. Bradshaw and her team exposed 150 female and 71 male college students from a southern, public American university to a variety of dating or hooking up situations. There was a situation when there was potential for a relationship, a situation when the partner had a great personality and a situation when drinking was involved. They asked the students the extent to which they would prefer dating or hooking up in each situation. The participants were also asked to pick the top three benefits and top three risks associated with dating and hooking up from a checklist, as well as provide details of their dating and hooking up activities over the past two years.

Even though men initiated significantly more first dates than women, there was no gender difference in the number of first dates or number of hookups. For both men and women, the number of hookups was nearly double the number of first dates. Overall, both genders showed a preference for traditional dating over hooking up. However, of those students who strongly preferred traditional dating, there were significantly more women than men (41 percent vs. 20 percent). Of those who showed a strong preference for hooking up, there were far fewer women than men (2 percent vs. 17 percent). The study also clearly found two truths with this group of students. Women, more than men, seem to want a relationship. Their fear of hooking up is that they will become emotionally attached to a partner who is not interested in them. Men, more than women, seem to value independence. Their fear of hooking up is that even though it is meant to be casual the woman may seek a relationship.

According to Paula England Ph.D. hookups prioritize male pleasure. Her study regarding hook ups found men to orgasm 44% of the time while female’s orgasm only 19% of the time. Men may feel like they are in a candy store with hook ups being so common and available but according to Kathleen Bogle Ph.D. a double standard still exists. Women who slept around with several men and had casual sex suffered being talked about negatively and their reputation was tarnished, men on the other hand may be applauded for it. When surveyed the majority of women who did have casual sex felt bad about it the next day and most likely it was due to something deeper than their reputation. Many women surveyed reported that at first they thought it was okay to have casual sex but when they did they found themselves beginning to like the guy and then they wanted more than just casual sex. They were distraught when they would tell the guy they were beginning to have feelings and he would only say, “I thought you knew this was only casual.”

If you are having a hook up in hopes that it will turn into a real relationship you are deluding yourself. Hook ups are set up for casual intimacy and sex and many times if you did know this person they wouldn’t be someone you would want to date. If you want to quit the hook ups and begin to date, these suggestions may help you get started.

  1. Look for someone who isn’t with someone new every night (sounds like a no brainer, but we aren’t always rational when we lust after someone).

  2. Look for someone who has other interests besides drinking (they may seem more fun, but no one looks good in bed when they are throwing up, or slurring their words).

  3. Find someone who wants to know you before you have sex (if they aren’t interested in you prior to sex they won’t be after).

  4. Find someone you can talk to (this is the essence of every relationship no matter what they tell you).

  5. The best people to have an intimate relationship with are the people you have been friends with prior to becoming intimate with them. They know you and most likely will try their best not to hurt you.

The point of most of these studies was clear in that everyone prefers dating over a hook up, when it is in the context of a possible long term relationship. When the relationship is not mentioned men prefer hook ups to dating more than women. So ladies, be sure about what you want. If you want a relationship then stick to dating. You may not have as much action as those having hook ups, but you will remember his name in the morning (and he yours) and will have earned self respect by taking care of yourself.


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