These are the Reasons People Get Hooked Up
Our study says it depends on gender . . . to a point.
Many readers have pointed out that there are good reasons to believe that men and women may have different expectations of what they want from their hookups. Evolutionary theories suggest that casual sex is more beneficial for men than women for reproduction and genetic dissemination. In our society, women are being socialized to place emotional intimacy above sexual pleasure and men are encouraged to prefer sex to intimacy. In the same way, sexual double-standards exist in which men are encouraged to have casual sex while women are shamed.
These theories suggest that men are more likely to hook up than women, hoping it will be a brief encounter with their partner. Men may also hope that the hookup will lead to continued sexual involvement (i.e. multiple hookups but no emotional ties) Women are more likely to be in a relationship with their partner if they hope it will lead to romance.
I looked into the validity of these ideas. We asked young men and women what they want most from their hookups. Is it more contact with their partner? Continued sexual encounters? Friendship A romantic relationship? We asked college students to share their ideal outcomes for hooking ups.
Many of the gender differences predicted by the research were confirmed. 38 percent of young men said that continuing sexual engagement was their ideal outcome of their hookups, while only 16 percent of women agreed. The difference in their ideal outcome was even more evident when they were asked about their last hookup. Only 6% of women said that they wanted to continue having sexual encounters with the partner, while 63 percent of men answered. Younger men (19%) prefer to have no contact with their partner after hookups, whereas young women (10%) preferred this outcome.
However, 64.5 percent of women (compared to 35% of men) said that they hoped their hookups would lead to romantic involvement. When asked about their last hookup, the gender gap was even more evident: 60% of women and 13% of men agreed that a romantic relationship would be the best outcome.
These findings show that young adults have strong gender preferences when it comes to what they want from their hookups. These differences align with socialization-based and evolutionary theories. Many laypeople also believe that men want sex while women desire a relationship. These differences highlight the fact that hookup culture on college campuses may have a negative impact on young women. Many women hoping that their hookups will lead to a relationship are unlikely, particularly since the young man they hookup with is unlikely to share the same hopes.
However, this does not mean that all men want sex. Although nearly two-thirds of men hoped that they would only continue sexual interaction with their current hookup partner, the number was much lower -- about one-third -- when they reported on their hookups as a whole. In fact, almost three quarters of men (or about one-third) stated that they would prefer their hookups to end in a romantic relationship.
Not all women want to be in a relationship that is free from their hookups. When asked about their recent hookups, 35-40% of young women stated that they were looking for a different outcome to a romantic relationship. This could be friendship, no contact, or continued sexual encounters.
While it is true that many young men are looking for sex, and that many young women are hoping to find "something more", this is not always the case. Our data suggests that around a third (or more) of young men hookup hoping to have a relationship with their hookup partner. A third (or more) of young women don't want their hookups to lead to anything else.
These findings suggest that women and men who are looking to get into a relationship can find a partner to hook them up. Research suggests that hookups are the basis of many committed romantic relationships among young adults. This is perhaps what keeps many young women, particularly those who aren't interested in casual sex, hooked up with others. They hope one of these hookups will lead them to a real relationship. These young women are often left with no choice but to have sex.