- A new book says college students are hooking up more often
- The author says the experience leaves them feeling empty, sad and regretful
- Do students view hookups as an alternative to a relationship?
For many young adults, college is a rite of passage, filled with experiences ranging from parties to all-night cram sessions to that first serious relationship.
Yet romance may be getting short shrift these days, replaced instead with quick "hookups" devoid of any real emotion. That's the argument of a provocative new book, "The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy."
Not only are more college students hooking up -- kissing, making out and having sex -- but these experiences often leave them feeling empty, sad and regretful, author Donna Freitas argues.
But is this generation's view of sex and love really so grim?
Freitas's book is partially based on the results of an earlier Internet survey she conducted of 2,500 U.S. college students at secular public, secular private and Catholic universities.
Of the 557 male and female students who responded to a question asking how they felt the morning after a hookup, 41% of those expressed sadness, regret and ambivalence.
The problem, contends Freitas, is a culture that overwhelmingly pressures young men and women to have meaningless hookups -- even though they might not enjoy it.
It's an intriguing argument, but is it really accurate?
"What has really changed is that among youth we see a decline in dating culture and so most college students have had more hookups than first dates," says Justin Garcia, a sex researcher at the Kinsey Institute in Indiana.
"Our data has shown that one of the greatest contributors to hookup behavior is a desire for sexual pleasure. However, there are also a large number of college students -- around 50% in one of our studies -- that hook up because they are hoping to start a romantic relationship or want emotional gratification."
Additionally, Kristen Mark, a sex and relationships researcher at the University of Kentucky, has found that students tend to view casual hookups as a positive alternative to romantic relationships.
"When we discuss the topic of casual sex and the hookup culture, they talk about it in the context of being too busy now to maintain a relationship or not wanting to make a relationship a priority at this stage in their life," she says. "Without exception, they discuss a long-term monogamous relationship as their desired end goal, but for now, casual sex meets their needs."
But true hookup culture isn't just about sex itself, says Freitas.
"Students define the sexual aspect of the hookup as 'anything from kissing to sex'," she explains. "To equate a hookup with casual sex is to miss the really important part of the conversation, which is that students feel so much pressure to show they are a part of things that they'll count almost anything as a hookup."