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November 15, 2012

Turns Out People Aren’t Hooking Up As Much As You Think They Are

November 15, 2012
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Katie passed me a link to this very interesting article yesterday afternoon.

Here’s the gist:

“Being intimate with multiple partners while in college has become so expected that it has become a stereotype. And, after a crazy weekend of partying, students love to gossip about who ‘hooked up’ with who. 

But that’s not to say every college student is participating in risky sexual promiscuity. In fact, a new study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says quite the opposite.

The study finds students talk about ‘hooking up’ so much, they begin to believe their peers are ‘hooking up’ more than they actually are.”

So people who say they get lots of action actually don’t get much action at all?? It feels like we should have been on to this considering sex and false bravado have gone together since the beginning of sex and false bravado. And yet, I was surprised.

My perception of my own college peers was that they were all hooking up. Granted this was in the early otts (sp?), so there’s a chance hook-up culture has changed in the – gulp – eight years since I left college.  But if I go back in time and try to count the actual, proven hook-ups had by my closest girlfriends, it’s really not that many. Then I tried to think about the actual, proven hook-ups had by my closest male friends, and it wasn’t that many either.

When I was in college we said no one dated and everyone hooked up. It is true that very few among my closest male or female friends went on what adults would consider a legitimate date, but in my little accounting process around the hook-ups, I also re-counted the relationships, and turns out there were more of those than I thought.

So all these years all these assumptions around hooking up were just based on rumor and sensationalism? You mean to tell me that people exaggerated about something that was sexy, edgy and exciting?? Could it possibly be that we (and that’s everyone from sociologists to students) made a mountain out of a molehill because it was a hot topic of conversation???

The numbers don’t lie folks: “Ninety percent of college students thought peers were hooking up two or more times per school year. The truth — only 37 percent of students reported two or more hookups in a school year.”

But are those 37% of students lying about the true number of hook-ups they’ve racked up? Or are we simply assuming that the hook-up chatter equals hook-up numbers?

That’s the piece I’m interested in uncovering. Any thoughts?


  1. I can see how our minds would make it seems like there were more hookups than there actually were. For example, if you are in a group of, say, 8 friends. And each friend has two hookups a year, that’s 16 weekends worth of hookups if no one’s occur on the same weekend. So it can easily seem as though every weekend there is a hookup story being talked about.

  2. At the risk of sounding like I had a really slutty group of guys and girls in college, I will say this: there were hundreds of hook ups. The guys were definitely worse than the girls (with two or three particular guys definitely having the most hook ups) but the girls held their own. There wasn’t a weekend where at least five hook ups didn’t happen. But then again, I’m talking about a group of almost twenty people. There were a few relationships, but for the most part people were single. Out of my closest eight or so girlfriends from college, there were only two who were constantly in relationships and the other six were almost always hooking up with different (or a rotating set of the same) guys.

    I did go to a college with less than 2,000 people, though.

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