Doing An End Run Around Hookup Culture

Correct SpooningThis post is my Christmas present to Megaman, who has patiently asked all the right questions and provided much of the data. 

Reading the anecdotal reports of hookup culture on college campuses, one hears that very few committed relationships may be observed on campus. My own research efforts have turned up similar reports. In addition, the academic research about hookup culture, which began around 2000, consistently indicates that while 70% of students want relationships, and 50% of them hook up to get relationships, only 12% of hookups lead to relationships. Those are pretty grim odds for a hooking up strategy. In Kathleen Bogle’s groundbreaking 2008 book on hooking up, she suggests that there simply is no real alternative – hookups are the pathway to relationships. Lisa Wade, an Occidental College professor and expert on hookup culture found in her small study of 44 students that only 1% maintained a committed relationship. (Don’t ask me how that math works.)

While these numbers appear to be accurate, they do not tell the whole story. Are there students who hook up rarely or not at all and still wind up in relationships? We know that the traditional dating paradigm is dead. Men do not generally pursue women by asking them to dinner and a movie. But if a large number of students are indeed in relationships, there has to be another script for creating them. Culturally, it may be hidden – students do not perceive that it is at all easy to secure relationships. But there is some evidence that Hookup Culture and Pluralistic Evidence notwithstanding, significant percentages of college students are forming monogamous relationships.

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