The Truth About College Hookups

  • Share
  • Read Later
Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York Times / Redux

Students at a concert at UPenn's Spring Fling in Philadelphia, on April 13, 2013.

Recent claims about the hookup culture among college students are greatly exaggerated, it seems.

Despite racy headlines suggesting that college kids are increasingly choosing casual liaisons over serious relationships, a new study presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association finds that just under one-third of college students have had more than one partner in the past year.

And that’s exactly the same proportion of students who were surveyed between 1988 and ’96, and between 2002 and ’10; both groups also had the same number of partners. So kids aren’t hooking up more than they ever were, or even more than their parents did, which is what recent media coverage has implied.

“College students today are not having more sexual partners [after] age 18, more sexual partners over the last year or more sex than their parents,” says the study’s lead author Martin Monto, professor of sociology at the University of Portland in Oregon. Gen Xers were actually more likely to have sex weekly or more frequently compared with millenials, according to the research.

The research did show a slight decline in the number of college kids saying they had a “spouse or regular sex partner,” but that doesn’t mean that college romance is dead. Indeed, 77% of students said that they’d had a regular partner or spouse in the 2000s, compared with 85% in the earlier generation. In other words, today as in the past, most students having sex are still doing so in the context of some type of ongoing relationship.

“We do see a decrease, but it’s not huge,” says Monto. “And part of that can be accounted for by a change in age of marriage.”

(MORE: Looking for Love: College Students May Prefer Relationship Sex to Casual Hookups)

The research involved data on nearly 2,000 people from the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey that asks a wide range of questions and has been carried out since 1972.

Kathleen Bogle, author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus and an assistant professor of sociology at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, whose work initially described the hookup culture in the scientific literature, says the latest study is “very interesting,” but naturally disagrees with the authors’ representation of her work.

Bogle argues that what is now called hookup culture began in the 1970s, after birth control became widely available and the age of marriage began rising. At that point, the couple ceased to be the center of college social life, and dating with the aim of marrying in college or shortly thereafter fell out of style.

She argues that this ultimately flipped the dating script — so that couples tended to get physical first and acquainted later, rather than the other way around, as occurred in the 1950s and ’60s. But Monto says there is no evidence that such choices are more common now than in the recent past — and there’s no data going back further to provide objective answers.

(MORE: What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Ivy League Hookup Culture)

Of course, much of the debate revolves around the definition of hooking up — a term both researchers acknowledge is deliberately ambiguous and can encompass everything from just kissing to intercourse. That means that it’s not clear whether what Bogle has labeled as hookup culture is really different from what the “one-night stand” or “making out” seen on past campuses as something that may or may not lead to further intimacy. Haven’t college students of any era always had similar struggles with getting partners to commit to more-serious relationships?

But Bogle and Monto do agree that students tend to think their peers hook up far more frequently than they actually do. One study found that on average, students report a total of five to seven hookups in their entire college career. But when Bogle surveyed students about how often they thought their fellow students were hooking up, they typically said seven times a semester. “That would be 56 people” in four years, she says.

In fact, 1 in 4 college students is a virgin and in the new research, only 20% of students from either era reported having six or more partners after turning 18.

(MOREWhat the U.S. Can Learn from the Dutch About Teen Sex)

That discrepancy in perception may explain the conflicting beliefs about whether college kids are really hooking up more than they used to — or not. The current study did find — based on reports by the students of their own sexual relationships — some evidence that recent generations of college students are having slightly more casual sex and so-called friends-with-benefits relationships. About 44% of students in the 2000s reported having had sex with a “casual date or pickup,” compared with 35% in the 1980s and ’90s — and 68% reported having had sex with a “friend” in the previous year, compared with 56% in the earlier group.

How students think of their liaisons with fellow students has clearly changed, and so has the college culture, apparently. All of the evidence points to the fact that college kids today are drinking less, taking fewer drugs and even having less sex than their parents’ generation. Hooking up just isn’t what it used to be.

169 comments
AfiaKhan
AfiaKhan

Just wow! In all my career, I don't think I've seen any article that made me go 'wow' as soon as I saw it, except for this one. You've really earned my respect today. And for that, I salute your awesomeness! como se maquiar sozinha

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

I always have loved your articles and I do love this one as well. This is really a great blog! Everything is just in the right place with this article and I couldn't have imagined a much better article. Well done!   จิ๊กซอว์สามมิติ

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects.Juicing Recipes For Weight Loss

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work! Tampa Web Design

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

Just wow! In all my career, I don't think I've seen any article that made me go 'wow' as soon as I saw it, except for this one. You've really earned my respect today. And for that, I salute your awesomeness! men fashion shirts Reply

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects. treviso condos

aileen123
aileen123

Just wow! In all my career, I don't think I've seen any article that made me go 'wow' as soon as I saw it, except for this one. You've really earned my respect today. And for that, I salute your awesomeness!

https://www.rebelmouse.com/thedesiresystem/

AfiaKhan
AfiaKhan

I always have loved your articles and I do love this one as well. This is really a great blog! Everything is just in the right place with this article and I couldn't have imagined a much better article. Well done! mi tienda supermarket weekly ad

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

Just wow! In all my career, I don't think I've seen any article that made me go 'wow' as soon as I saw it, except for this one. You've really earned my respect today. And for that, I salute your awesomeness! Coaching

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

Just wow! In all my career, I don't think I've seen any article that made me go 'wow' as soon as I saw it, except for this one. You've really earned my respect today. And for that, I salute your awesomeness! public adjuster Boca Raton

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

Thank you very much for such an interesting post, and I meet them more often then I visited this site. Mega Sena

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects. blackberry phones nigeria

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work. friendship day

PrinceShaikh
PrinceShaikh

I always have loved your articles and I do love this one as well. This is really a great blog! Everything is just in the right place with this article and I couldn't have imagined a much better article. Well done!    affordable house insurance

AfiaKhan
AfiaKhan

I really had a lot of help from this and I would like to return the favor and that's why I am writing this positive comment for your article. casa lucia

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

But when Bogle surveyed students about how often they thought their fellow students were hooking up, they typically said seven times a semester. “That would be 56 people” in four years, she says. template responsive

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects. theme responsive

aileen123
aileen123

Just wow! In all my career, I don't think I've seen any article that made me go 'wow' as soon as I saw it, except for this one. You've really earned my respect today. And for that, I salute your awesomeness!

alloy wheel repairs in leeds

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects. assurance moins cher

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work! best pocket camcorder site

aileen123
aileen123

The world is changing fast. people are also being changed.day by day we are becoming more dependant on degital system.yoU make me think of this really.You have a nice way of sharing your thoughts.

funny memes


aileen123
aileen123

I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects.

ลดน้ำหนัก

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

Many people all over the world suffer from the pain in lower left side of their back. Because the pain is only on one side of the back, there are many doctors who face trouble to find the actual cause of the pain...best pocket camcorder site

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects.
electric knife

marvinaustin21
marvinaustin21

This one is probably normal nowadays. All we should do is always making studies a bigger priority.

Learn more about scott tucker if you visit this website right away.

AAKDJ
AAKDJ

Many people all over the world suffer from the pain in lower left side of their back. Because the pain is only on one side of the back, there are many doctors who face trouble to find the actual cause of the pain...painhealthweb.com

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

I really had a lot of help from this and I would like to return the favor and that's why I am writing this positive comment for your article. tubemate

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work. pizza hut deals

aileen123
aileen123

I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects.

https://profits25.shutterfly.com/

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the leisure here! Keep up the excellent work kickstarter

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

Your favorite justification seemed to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects
loading labor

aileen123
aileen123

Your favorite justification seemed to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects 

suguh.com

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

But when Bogle surveyed students about how often they thought their fellow students were hooking up, they typically said seven times a semester. “That would be 56 people” in four years, she says. images share

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

I would say that this is a a great post of a great person,i'm pleased to see this. pabx

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

Most people think that once branded Smokey Mountain, any such smoker will perform the intended functions reliably, effectively and without compromise. This is very wrong as these kitchen appliances come in many different designs, sizes and other specifications. Anarkali Suits

RichardJohn
RichardJohn

I really had a lot of help from this and I would like to return the favor and that's why I am writing this positive comment for your article. Ev Elektroniği

BarameBurnsang
BarameBurnsang

Amazing article! Great material you've shared on this topic. I really had a lot of help from this and

I would like to return the favor and that's why I am writing this positive comment for your article. thai wooden spoon