More sex in ‘hookup culture’? Actually, no, says college study -
Published Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 11:15 am
More sex in ‘hookup culture’? Actually, no, says college study

They may be more frank about their sexual adventures — and have many more ways to share those stories with the world — but college students today aren’t having any more sex than they were in the ’80s and ’90s, according to a new study. Tales of a new, no-strings-attached “hookup culture” on college campuses — as seen on the anonymous “UC Berkeley hookups” Facebook page — are mostly exaggerated, the analysis found.

Young adults in the past decade had no more partners and sex no more often than those surveyed 10 or 20 years earlier, said Martin Monto, a University of Portland sociologist, whose report, “A new standard of sexual behavior?” was released last week.

“I am not surprised, to be honest, that the numbers haven’t changed,” said Elisabeth Bahadori, a University of California, Berkeley, student who writes for the campus newspaper’s Sex on Tuesday column. “I think the media overhypes how sexualized college students are.”

It’s easy to see how colorful anecdotal accounts might trump the statistics; online forums contain an abundance of steamy material that was largely private a generation ago.

“To the guy who gave me the best study break of my life in between the bookshelves at Main Stacks — you rock my world,” wrote one poster to the anonymous, open “UC Berkeley hookups” site on Facebook. “Call me ;-)”

Bahadori says students in her generation are more aware of their sexuality and less constricted by “old-school values.”

“I think people are trying to deal with their sex lives from a more honest place, and I think that’s admirable,” she said.

The hookup culture so fascinated a former Stanford professor that in 2005 she surveyed students on campus about their relationships. She discovered that hookups, rather than dates, often led to exclusive relationships.

“Today, on college campuses … the traditional date is nearly dead,” wrote Paula England, who is now teaching at New York University.

Although Bahadori and others noted that college students — women, especially — tend to be more open about their sex lives, some said commitment-free physical relationships happened rarely, if at all, among their friends.

“I’ve definitely heard stories like that, but I haven’t known anybody to have those kinds of relationships,” said Aaron Jameson, who will be a junior at UC Berkeley this fall. “I think sharing just physical intimacy and not emotional intimacy can be harmful.”

Students sometimes overestimate how much their peers are having sex, said San Jose State University’s associate director of campus wellness.

“I think there’s always that preconception that ‘Oh, maybe I’m the only one who’s not sexually active,’ ” said Laurie Morgan. “When you see the actual data, it’s enlightening for all.”

But relationships have slightly shifted since the ’90s, said Monto, who presented his paper to the American Sociological Association. Fewer young adults with at least one sexual partner had a long-term relationship in the previous year. They were more likely to hook up with a friend or a casual date. Because college-educated adults are marrying later in life, Monto said, they don’t necessarily see sex as something that must lead to marriage.

“A lot of my female friends always thought I was crazy to have a boyfriend,” said Krystle Bartholomew, who graduated from UC Berkeley in May.

Still, she said, “I’m not even thinking about marriage. I’m not even thinking about kids.”

Annie, drop some bereavement knowledge on these yuppies
Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita
Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87
Archives: So many wonderful old Omaha photos
UNL students make dancing robot drones
Annie, this woman I paid for sex years ago is now a co-worker
Saying ‘stranger danger’ doesn’t always work, instead be direct with your child
Momaha: 10 ways to boost a kid's confidence
Tips, recipes on how to spice up your traditional Easter ham
Momaha: A lesson in balance for mom after ballet
Dubious list says Omaha's the second-most-spirited city in the U.S., whatever that means
Live Well Nebraska: Bellevue man named one of hottest fitness trainers in America
Annie, my husband walked out on me, and now I love his brother
Review: ‘Heaven is for Real’ leaves it to viewer to interpret its story
Aw, geez. 'Fargo' has a new psycho
Is this Omaha's most incredible Easter egg tree?
Omaha, Lincoln both set record lows; some fruit trees may have been damaged
Grand Island body shop owner models car after Coney dog
What to Watch: 'Fargo,' 'New Girl'
'Last Supper' quilt makes its way to Nebraska
Caravan’s steampunk ‘Fantasticks’ to pitch its tent in Iowa
Cleveland Evans: Emma blossomed from medieval roots
Annie, I'm worried my fiancée will go back to her group sex ways
Number of stay-at-home moms on the rise, it’s not who you think
Assemble the minions! How to make weird but cool Easter crafts
< >
Cleveland Evans: From a moody nickname to the Ninja Turtles’ bestie
In honor of April 1, this column’s about Murgatroyd and Amphelisia.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
Jump to a blog:
< >
We Love Weddings blog
W.E. Love Weddings is about everything Omaha and everything weddings by the editors of Wedding Essentials Magazine.
Weddings and engagements
Share your exciting news with your community by placing an announcement today.
Inspired Home Omaha magazine
Sign up today to get the latest edition of Omaha's best magazine for local living, home entertainment, fashion and travel!
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »