Entries in hooking up (21)


Destined for Disaster or Casual and Carefree?: What are the Benefits of a Friends with Benefits Relationship?

What do the majority of today’s American college students have in common with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake? Hint: The answer is found in the title of the 2011 rom-com Mila and Justin starred in...that’s right...Friends with Benefits. Several studies show that Friends with Benefits Relationships (FWBRs) are quite common among college-age students.1,2,3 But, despite their apparent commonality, modern media tells us that FWBRs are destined to fail, either because partners become hurt by the lack of exclusivity and love in their relationship, or because partners fall in love despite their original intentions (a la Mila and Justin). But are such outcomes true in the real world? Can’t people actually enjoy the benefits of a FWBR? The answer—like most questions in relationships research—is that it depends.

A FWBR is a relationship in which two individuals who share a friendship also have sex, but do not explicitly express romantic feelings. However, the exact meaning of this FWBR label can vary across relationships, ranging from a completely monogamous relationship between two close friends to a non-monogamous relationship between two casual acquaintances, and anywhere in between. This ambiguity can be either a major benefit or a major bummer for someone in a FWBR, depending on how they feel about labels and boundaries in a sexual relationship.2 Partners in a FWBR are much less likely to communicate with each other about their relationship and their sexual needs than are partners in a committed romantic relationship, which makes defining the rules and boundaries of the relationship difficult.1 Whether or not this ambiguity can benefit partners depends on their respective intentions when initiating the relationship.

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The Scientific Merits of Tinder: Swipe Left or Right?

In the age of online dating, science-based information about the ins and outs of dating services is both timely and important. One digital dating app has seen tremendous rises in popularity since its release - we're speaking of course about Tinder. 

Tinder is a bare bones dating app that allows users to filter in rapid succession through photos of other users who are potential matches. Who you see in your pool of potential matches is based on a very limited set of criteria, customizable to the user – age, location, and gender. When two users mutually rate each other favorably (both swipe right), they are “matched,” which prompts the app to open a dialogue between the two users (basically a texting service within the application). The rest is left to the matched users.

Interestingly, there is no scientific research out there specifically about Tinder (we are unaware of any published scientific papers in psychology or related fields that focus on behavior on Tinder). This lack of data might be because of its novelty—Tinder was released in late 2012. The lack of research could also be due to the fact that Tinder's mainstream popularity is even more recent. Despite the lack of scientific data, however, like all things that attain mainstream popularity, Tinder has been subject to both criticism and support from the general public. 

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Are Millennials Really the “Hook-Up Generation”?

Do you believe these statements?

  • College students today care more about hooking up than forming meaningful relationships.
  • Hooking up on college campuses is rampant.
  • Millennials are part of a “hook-up culture” that did not exist in the past.  

I mean, they sound perfectly reasonable, especially based on what you’ve likely seen in the media about Millennials (i.e., those born in the 80s and 90s). However, just because it feels true doesn’t mean it is actually true. Let’s see if these statements are correct by examining what the most recent science has to say. (For a primer on “hooking up,” click here.)

Do College Students Care More about Hooking Up than Forming Meaningful Relationships?

To answer this question, researchers surveyed over 200 college students and asked them which of the following they preferred for themselves:

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Those Love Geeks: Dr. David Buss on Hooking Up


She Wants To, She Wants To Not: Predicting Women’s Casual Sex in College

We’ve highlighted a fair amount of research on casual sex (see here) and hookups (see here) over the past couple of years. Although these studies are incredibly interesting, past researchers typically have not tracked people (and their hookups) over time to identify the factors that signal if hookups are likely to occur in the future. In a new article published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, the researchers do just that, by measuring a range of characteristics among women when they first started college and then tracking their hookups across the next eight months (i.e., their first year of college).

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Hooking Up During College: Are You Qualified?

If you're not careful, passive reading of all the press on the college "hook-up" culture would lead you to believe that college campuses are just big orgies. In fact, SofR's Tim Loving recently surveyed a group of 60 students and asked them how many sexual partners they think typical college students rack up during college, and the overwhelming majority assumed it was on the order of 5-10 partners! Who has time for studying?

According to a recent piece in Slate.com, however, closer inspection of the data suggests popular wisdom may be off the mark. It's a very interesting read.

Click here to see our articles on hooking up. 


Do People Get Better Looking When the Bar is About to Close?

What happens when something is only available for a short period of time or exists in limited quantities? We want it. Badly. That’s why advertisements and infomercials are always telling you to “act now, before time runs out” if you want to get your hands on the latest, overpriced, completely unnecessary product they’re selling. However, the illusion of scarcity and its effects are not unique to the world of business—scarcity may also affect how we perceive potential sexual and romantic partners. As some evidence of this, consider a classic study on the so-called “closing time effect,” or the idea that everyone gets better looking when the bar is about to close because the window of opportunity for finding someone to take home dwindles.

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If You’re In A Relationship, Is It OK To Browse Hookup Sites For “Innocent Flirting” And “Harmless” Fun?

BC submitted the following question:

Have you written much on gay hookup apps (Grindr, Scruff, etc)? I just had a lengthy discussion with my cousin on Facebook after posting my criticism of Dan Savage's latest Savage Love. In it, Savage wrote that a gay man can have a hookup app on his phone while in an exclusive relationship and just use it for chatting with friends and innocent flirting. Why would someone be active on a hookup app and, if confronted with a hot guy to hookup with, not actually hook up with them?

Dear BC;

This is a great question! Although I am not aware of any studies specifically examining how use of hookup applications impacts people’s relationships, there is plenty of research to suggest that bringing these applications into a monogamous relationship could potentially lead to trouble down the road. Thus, I don’t fully agree with Savage’s take that engaging in such behavior is completely innocent.

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“We Can Still Be Friends”: Six Ways You Can Stay Friends After a Breakup

Unlike Jerry and Elaine in the classic TV sitcom Seinfeld, or Ted and Robin in How I Met Your Mother, it isn’t easy for ex-romantic partners to remain friends. Think about it…how many of your exes are still friends of yours? Half of them? 25%? If you’re like me, the answer is more likely zero, nil, nada, zilch.

Even if your ex assured you that “it’s not you, it’s me,” breakups are still upsetting. Because of this, it may not surprise you that about 60% of ex-partners do not have contact with one another post-breakup. However, some exes do keep in touch and even become friends after the breakup. In fact, there are several situations in which post-dissolution friendships are more likely.

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Getting Her There: When Are Women Most Likely To Have Orgasms?

Everyone likes a good orgasm, right? In past articles we’ve covered topics like faking orgasms, the function of orgasms in sexual communication, orgasms stemming from nipple stimulation, and even highlighted “everything you need to know about female orgasm.” Okay, so maybe we didn’t tell you everything. There’s still more that you need to know about female orgasms, especially the answer to the question: when are women most likely to have an orgasm? And what sorts of relationships (e.g., romantic relationships versus casual sex) are most likely to yield sexual satisfaction? Is the big O a requirement for sexual satisfaction? First, let’s back up a bit and briefly review some of the common explanations for what leads to fulfilling sex.

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Monkey See, Monkey Do (and by “Do” We Mean “Have Sex”)

Recently, we reviewed research that indicates portrayals of sex in pop culture (e.g., movies, TV) influence young adults’ attitudes toward sex and “hookup” behavior. Soon-to-be-published research1 in the journal Psychological Science has more to add on the topic. Researchers surveyed over 1200 adolescents aged 12-14 throughout the U.S. by telephone and followed their sexual activity over a period of about 6 years. They found that more exposure to sex in popular movies (e.g., American Pie) at a young age (before 16) was associated with an earlier “sexual debut.” In other words, the more teens were exposed to sex in movies, the younger they were when they first started having sex.

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The Hookup Culture

At the recent conference on relationships research that many of us attended, some folks mused about the increased attention social science is giving to uncommitted relationships, casual sex, and “hooking up,” as if it’s a new thing culturally (when in fact, it may not be). For those who are old enough to remember the 1960s and 70s, those times marked a period known as the sexual revolution and casual sex was very common. So why has it taken so long for scientists to catch up? Or is there something different about our society today?

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"Hooking Up" – What is it Exactly?

“Hooking up” has become a catch-all phrase in our culture to describe casual romantic or sexual activity. Despite the pervasiveness of the phrase, however, no one (lay people or relationship scientists) has a solid, agreed-upon definition for exactly what it is. What specifically does “hooking up” entail? A recent review article sheds light on this question.

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How Does Your Attachment Influence Your Sexual Relationships?

I saw a symposium of researchers who used attachment theory to explain differences in sexual behavior. In general, people high on attachment anxiety or avoidance (in other words, more insecure folks) have less satisfying sexual experiences.

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Are You a Booty Call or a Friend with Benefits?

Spring break season is upon us, and as I discussed in a previous post, one thing that people associate with spring break is casual sex (what happens on spring break stays on spring break!). According to a recent study, however, casual sex relationships may not be so casual after all. In fact, these days casual sexual relationships are no longer solely defined as a one time sexual encounter; instead, casual sexual experiences can range from a one-time “hook-up” to an ongoing sexual relationship with a friend.

In a recent study, focus groups of young people were asked to identify different ‘types’ of casual sex relationships...

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The Flip Side: Hooking-Up in the Bizarro World

It's like "White Man's Burden", but set in Relationship World.


I Know You Want Me

After rating their own attractiveness, 200 undergraduates participated in a speed-meeting task and talked to 5 members of the opposite sex for 3 minutes each. Men with high self-perceived attractiveness were more likely to think the women (especially attractive women) were attracted to them. Also, men looking to hook up overestimated women’s desire. In contrast, women underestimated men’s desire. From an evolutionary perspective, men’s overestimations increase mating success because it gives them more chances. 

Perilloux, C., Easton, J. A., & Buss, D. M. (in press). The misperception of sexual interest: A speed-meeting study. Psychological Science.

image source: novelasymas.com


Sexual Strategies in Cross-Sex Friendships

Evolutionary psychologists, including pioneers such as David Buss, have yet another perspective on this type of friendship. These researchers tend to view cross-sex friendship as an evolved reproductive tactic, or “sexual strategy.” In a nutshell, evolutionary processes have created differences between men and women with regards to sex. Thus, men and women may have different motivations for becoming friends with the opposite sex.

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Teens in Love Stay Out of Trouble: Not All Teen Sex Is Created Equal

A recent study of over 500 teenaged same-sex twin pairs suggests there may be a hidden benefit of being a lovesick teen. Teenagers that have sex with a romantic partner engage in fewer delinquent behaviors than do teens that have sex outside of a relationship (i.e., “hooking up”). In other words, teens spending more time with a boyfriend or girlfriend leaves them less time to get into trouble. 

Harden, K., & Mendle, J. (2011). Adolescent sexual activity and the development of delinquent behavior: The role of relationship context. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40(7), 825-838. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9601-y


Cross-Sex Friendships: Can Men and Women Ever Be “Just Friends”?

This is a question I get asked a lot by my friends and students. The answer is yes, heterosexual men and women are perfectly capable of remaining platonic friends without dating or hooking up (labeled as “cross-sex friendship” or “opposite-sex friendship” in the scientific world),1,2 and nearly all men and women have had such a friendship at some point in their lives.3 However, there are unique aspects of cross-sex friendships that can be potentially problematic or rewarding depending on your perspective.

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