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A University of Illinois survey found that 49% of college men and 38% of women reported having sex as a direct result of drinking.Canadian researchers (Fisher, 2012) asked college students about alcohol and hook-ups. As I’ve discussed previously [7.1.14], alcohol is a major factor in collegiate and military sexual assaults.A study of Northeastern University students found similar results: 78% of students reported hook-ups, but only about a third of encounters included intercourse.These figures remind me of what I recall from my own casual relationships four decades ago. From the 1970s through the 1990s, young adults interested in casual sex—or meeting long-term mates—often met at parties or singles bars.As I came of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I had a few flings I later regretted. That’s also how young people learn to negotiate relationships.
(Not to mention that as intoxication increases, erotic pleasure usually decreases.) Incidentally, alcohol lubricates not just young adult hook-ups but also a great deal of sex among lovers of all ages. Older adults uncomfortable with hook-ups assert that they reflect young men’s fantasies of porn-style, free-for-all sex, while denying young women’s preference for committed relationships. The researchers (Fielder & Carey, 2010) asked 118 women undergraduates why they’d hooked up: in what my generation called one-night stands.And they show that most young people feel fine about their hook-ups: These studies also show that hook-up regret is most likely in one specific circumstance—intercourse when very drunk.As previously mentioned, about a third of hook-ups involve intercourse, and the participants are very drunk in around half of those.Today’s hook-up culture is simply the latest iteration of this centuries-old truth: So today, it’s hook-ups, friends with benefits, and booty calls orchestrated by Tinder (launched in 2012). In part because young adults delight in differentiating themselves from previous generations.And compared to previous generations, today’s young adults spend more time single.