November 9, 2012

The Art Of The College Hookup

Humans have a funny way of remembering things. As the years trudge on, many of the sharper details of our pasts blur, some of the color fades, and the backgrounds tend to wrinkle get washed out. What we have in the end is a photograph full of character which is looked upon with fondness and nostalgia. Often, we’re also left with a memory rapt in exaggeration and just a little left of the truth.

For many of us, the first year away from Mom and Dad at college was a wild, wild time. There were a plethora of new experiences to be had, new substances to try and an entire campus of new people to meet. In our minds, it’s likely we remember the first semester as nothing short of a 4-month drunken, half-stoned sexcapade, fueled by hormones and sustained by whatever cheap food-type product we had the time to shove in our faces between orgies.

That is how your Freshman year at college looked like, no?

When we remember our late teens in this way, it’s easy to assume that today’s teens are at least ten times worse by now. After all, if they’re already taking beer bongs up the butt and soaking tampons in vodka, who knows what kind of sex they’re having?

Some researchers from The Miriam Hospital’s Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine decided to get the low down on how these kiddies get down in America’s quads and dorm rooms.

In summary: We have no clue.

The idea of the casual hookup is a predominant one, and it’s easy to believe when we look at it through the rose colored glasses of our past collegiate experiences. And While Robyn L. Fielder, M.S., research intern at Miriam Hospital says today’s college kids (or rather, today’s college girls) still prefer to have sex in the context of a romantic relationship, the art of the hookup is still widely practiced.

“Hooking up is one way that young adults explore intimate relationships, but it’s not the most common way, and it is often exploratory,” explained Fielder, saying the term “hookup” is more grabby in the media and therefore, gets more attention.

Just as parents the world over begin to breathe a sigh of relief, Fielder mentions that “hooking up” can mean damned near anything and, oh yeah, we’re still not sure if kids are choosing hooking up over sex in romantic relationships.

Take informal sample set of the next 10 people you meet (actually, better make it people you know pretty well) and ask them what they think “hooking up” means. Some will say it’s simply getting in a quick make out session. Others will say it’s some randy fun in the copy room. Still more might suggest it’s going all the way, hitting a home run, slam dunking the winning wicket.

Fielder didn’t settle on a solid definition of “Hooking up” however, and sent her team of researchers to ask some 480 female college freshmen about their sexual activity before and after campus life. According to this sample set, 1/3 of these young ladies reported having at least one hookup before coming to college. Many more of these girls, 60%, said they had had sex with a romantic partner before classes began. The hooking up took an exponential upturn their freshman year, with 40% reporting a hookup, while 56% went all the way with their romantic sex partner.

The study did find these kids are more likely to go all sex wild and party hard go nuts in between their classes and hook ups during the first semester of college, with the antics dying down sometime just before summer.

In the end, Fielder says she wants her research to be used to aid university heath awareness efforts, which is noble.

The bottom line here, however, is that college kids are crazy. No matter the generation, no one will ever understand them but themselves. Apparently Fielder couldn’t stop them long enough to gauge if they were hooking up and/or having sex inside or outside of romantic relationships.

And I think that says it all.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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