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Things may be changing quickly. We know they sometimes do. Students regularly overestimate the extent to which their peers are participating in hookup culture. In reality, the average graduating senior reports hooking up eight times over the course of four years.


Like most Gen X mental health professionals, my exposure to youth culture has waned over the years.

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A hookup includes some form of sexual intimacy, anything from kissing to oral, vaginal, or anal sex, and everything in between. A hookup is briefit can last from a few minutes to as long as several hours over a single night.

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A hookup is intended to be purely physical in nature and involves both parties shutting down any communication or connection that might lead to emotional attachment. Of course, not every student participates in hookup culture.

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Some are indeed in committed relationships, while others remain single but take sexual relationships seriously. When strangers or near-strangers mix sexual activity with copious amounts of alcohol, giving and receiving sexual consent becomes a tricky business.

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A study in The Journal of Interpersonal Violence found that 90 percent of the unwanted sex reported by college women occurred during a hookup. But beyond the physical danger is the emotional one.

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What Kayla, another student, shares next feels typical as well. I told him that he needed to be either with just me, or not me at all.

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I was embarrassed that he chose to have sex with someone else when I know he liked having sex with me. But the worst part was that I felt so brokenhearted about itand so dumb about feeling so brokenhearted.

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They seem to have difficulty quieting the outer noise, tuning into their inner values, beliefs, and emotions, and using that awareness to guide their behavior in their intimate relationships. I suspect it indicates that young adults are craving some safety to balance their adventure. Calling All Rebels Meanwhile, hookup culture continues to thrive, even though most therapists would love to see young adults create something more fulfilling than ambiguous, drunken, unsatisfying sex.

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Is it that as a culture we no longer encourage young people to question the status quo? With our cultural insistence on a narrow and meritocratic path to success, it feels awfully unfair to expect young adults to manifest romantic coherence when our culture seems to reflect back to them anything but.

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But one thing is certain: in the coming years, therapists will be getting an increasingly close-up look at the long-term consequences of what it meant to learn about the possibilities of love and commitment at a time when technology and changing cultural norms were transforming the way young people connected with each other. This blog is excerpted from "Inside Hookup Culture.

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Rising above misinformation and moralizing, Lisa Wade offers the definitive of the new sexual culture on campus.


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Hookup culture dominates the social scene of American college campuses today, including Duke.


Laurie James-Hawkins does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.