Adolescents and emerging adults often engage in sexual relationships for a variety of reasons, from instant physical gratification to the satisfaction of emotional needs. The media has often reacted to this culture of sexual relations with moral panic. But why do people participate in hookup culture? This article will explore the motivations behind it, as well as the potential consequences. A study analyzed students' motivations to flirt and engage in sexual relationships among a random sample of 180 heterosexual college students from a southeastern university.
It looked at the differences according to demographic characteristics, marital age expectations, and marital status of parents and peers. Qualitative research suggests that sexual relationships are an increasingly expected part of the university experience (Wade 201). This expectation may be an important motivation for some people to participate in the practice. Women can seek empowerment through the sexual gratification of hookup culture, but many often walk away from a relationship with the opposite feeling. The number of university students who have found sexual relationships varies according to time and population, from 40% of all women in older research (Glenn and Marquardt), to 60% of all undergraduate students (Kuperberg and Padgett, 201) and 72% of all final year students (England et al.).
As social scripts at university have changed and may continue to change in the light of social changes, such as the rise of dating and dating apps (Kuperberg and Allison 201), and due to COVID-19, motivations to flirt may also change. The results showed that most participants engage to feel sexual pleasure, with a significant minority motivated by relationship formation and the “university experience”. Both older and younger abstainers were more likely to have parents as a couple compared to sex classes. These pressures lead to feelings of guilt when women discover unrequited feelings for a partner, as they commonly repress those feelings or blame themselves for violating the expectation of freedom from emotional intimacy. Research has tended to examine casual or partner sexual motivations as distinct, and only limited research has examined whether certain motivations can be “grouped together”. Although there is more than a decade of research on sexual relationships, what motivates university students to participate in sexual relationships is not clear, with previous research focusing mainly on psychological rather than social motivations, and on gender differences, but not on exploring whether students differ in motivations for sexual relationships due to other factors. Hookup culture can be seen as a double-edged sword.
On one hand, it can provide people with an opportunity for physical gratification or even empowerment. On the other hand, it can lead to feelings of guilt or insecurity about love. It is important for people engaging in hookup culture to be aware of their own motivations and expectations so that they can make informed decisions about their relationships.