College Hookups: Are Hookups Replacing Romantic Relationships For First-Year Students?

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A new study suggests that first-year college kids are not hooking up as often as we may think. | Shutterstock

For parents who think college and university is full of wild parties, all-nighters and hooking up — they can officially scratch that last one off the list.

A new study by The Miriam Hospital's Centres for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine suggests that college students are not actually hooking up as often as the outside world may think.

Romantic relationships were more common sexual behaviour for first-year female students, according to the study. In fact, romantic sex with a partner was twice as common as "hookup sex."

The Miriam Hospital survey interviewed 483 first-year college female students about their sexual behaviour with hookups and relationships during that first year and the summer after. Before starting school, one-third of surveyed women had one hookup and 60 per cent added they had sex at least once in a romantic relationship.

"These findings support what we know about the first year of college: That it is a time when we see increases in sexual behavior and substance use, as young people explore who they want to be and how they want to interact with others – especially romantic partners," said Robyn L. Fielder, M.S., a research intern at The Miriam Hospital's Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine in a press release.

"Hooking up" can mean one thing for one person and something completely different for another. A 2011 study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that even though 94 per cent of participating students had heard the term "hooking up," no one was sure what it actually meant. The study found that hookups were defined as anything from sex to just making out.

And although this kind of casual sexual relationship has been occurring between young people for at least 20 years, it wasn't always labelled in this way. A study by the University of Ottawa found that today young people are more likely to have sex but call it "booty calls," "friends with benefits" and "one-night stands."

What's your definition of hooking up? Let us know in the comments below:

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