Hangups with hook-ups

Sex without commitment has been around since at least the 1960s—probably back to the 1960s B.C. and further. But it’s just recently been seriously studied.

Laura Session Stepp’s book, Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both examines “hookups”—no-strings-attached physical encounters from simply kissing to oral sex to intercourse.

A 2004 study by psychologist Elizabeth Paul at the College of New Jersey found that out of 500 students surveyed, three-fourths have had hookups. And, according to a Stanford University study of 4,000 students at five colleges, 30 percent of hookups went no further than kissing, 15 percent involved oral sex and 35-40 percent included intercourse.

A Bowling Green University study of hooked-up couples having intercourse, 32 percent felt closer to each other, 52 percent said it didn’t change their relationship, and 16 percent said it made them less close. That’s over two-thirds that intercourse did not draw them closer together.

Researcher Allison Caruthers of the University of Oregon in Portland found that “Young women have mixed feelings about being tied down in a relationship. They wanted [relationships] but were really afraid of them, too.”

And that’s what concerns Stepp. She finds young people “emotionally distant and commitment-phobic. Hookups in high school and college may hinder long-time love.”

Adolescent gynecologist, Melisa Holmes, shares Stepp’s concern. She writes in Girlology: Hangups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out, “They don’t learn to build that emotional intimacy before they get physically intimate. In the long term, that develops bad relationship habits. They may grow up not knowing how to connect with a partner on an intimate level.”

Stepp and Holmes would seem to verify earlier studies on sex that commitment is an essential element in truly satisfying intercouse. (My article on Three secrets to xxx-ceptional sex includes those findings.)

So hookups can lead to hangups about relatioships and even sex! That’s why Scripture teaches that intercourse was created to bond an existing relationship rather than create a relationship (“make love”), or simply provide pleasure while delaying a relationship.

© 2007 James N. Watkins

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