Hookup culture gains popularity, spreads throughout college campuses

Photo by Nick Haseloff
Social media dating applications such as Tinder are increasing in popularity among students. (Photo by Nick Haseloff)

By Alexandra Chason
A hookup with no strings attached — what more could you ask for?
According to the Archives of Sexual Behavior written by Jennifer Katz and Monica E. Schneider, a survey of college students found 35 percent of women and 50 percent of men reported having casual sex with a partner they had no intentions of pursuing a relationship with.The Journal of Sex Research written by Catherine Grello, Deborah Welsh and Melinda Harper, reported men are motivated to participate in casual hookups in hopes of increasing their sexual experience, peer status and popularity.
The same study found women are more motivated to participate in casual hookups in hopes it may lead to a potential relationship.
Jill Moffitt, UNC Asheville’s Title IX administrator, said college students have high expectations for sex.
“What we know is that students tend to think that everyone is engaging in insane amounts of sexual activities or having orgies,” Moffitt said. “They tend to believe that their peers are doing this regularly and they report that to us.”
The misconception that everyone is having extreme amounts of sex is leading to an increase in casual sex and impulsive hookups, Moffitt said.
According to Archives of Sexual Behavior written by Jennifer Katz and Monica E. Schneider, 45 percent of men and 24 percent of women participated in hookup or casual sex between October and April of their first year of college.
Jacob Howard, an undeclared freshman, said he understands the increase of hookup sex in college.
“I feel like your first few years in college, you’re gonna want more hookups and you’re not gonna want to be tied down,” Howard said. “It’s your first time being free to do what you want, or who you want.”
According to Catherine Grello, Deborah Welsh and Melinda Harper, the writers of The Journal of Sex Research, college students who participate in casual sex experience guilt associated with their hookups, which often lead to feelings of low self-esteem.
“Me, personally, I feel like shit after a hookup,” Howard said. “During it I feel great, obviously, because sex is great. But you kinda just wanna cuddle after and not wake up embarrassed.”
According to The Journal of Sex Research, not only does casual sex lead to low self-esteem and guilt, but it has long term effects on students who participate in it.
According to the Archives of Sexual Behavior, individuals who were sexually involved with a greater number of partners were also more likely to have a sexual relationship without being married and less likely to marry by age 30.
“It makes sense, people who search for short term relationships aren’t going to be able to find a quality partner,” Howard said.
This study also reported that participating in casual hookups is positively related to avoiding commitment and negatively related to valuing an emotional connection with partners. Individuals are found to be more comfortable remaining unmarried or seeking divorce in the future.
According to the Archives of Sexual Behavior, students who engage in casual sex have also tended to view love relationships more as a game and less in terms of deep friendship.
Moffitt said that while casual sex increases, so does abstinence.
“We’ve also seen an increase of abstinence,” Moffitt said. “ It could be because of personal beliefs, religious beliefs, it could be because in the state of North Carolina they teach abstinence in K-12th grade; there are lots of different reasons.”
Meredith Long, a freshman biology student, is very open about why she chooses to stay abstinent.
“I’m not going to lose it to a one-night stand,” Long said. “No one is looking for a relationship so being abstinent, I think, is my best choice.”