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“There was a big disconnect between what people said their sexual orientation was and what their actions were.”College is the time when sexual evolutions and experiments are likely to take place because students have often reached their sexual maturity, but not their emotional and economic maturity (as evidenced by the fact that many college students are in debt and making plenty of foolish decisions).“Hooking up is one way some young people try to get through the long period between their sexual coming of age and their achievement of educational, professional, and relationship success,” says Stephanie Coontz, head of the Council on Contemporary Families, which has published Kuperberg’s previous research on hookups.But chatter about hookups can increase acceptance of the encounters, said study researcher Amanda Holman, a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.That's troubling, Holman said, because hookups are often spontaneous and involve alcohol, making it less likely that students will protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy."The more that [students] talked to their peers about it, the more likely that they're going to be accepting of the risky behavior," Holman told Live Science.For example, while about 45 percent of students said they'd never hooked up with anyone, only 3.7 percent believed that the "typical student" had never hooked up.
The term can include anything from making out to sexual intercourse, Holman said, but the most common meaning among the students she studied was nonrelationship sex that was spontaneous and alcohol-driven.Sam Nitz knew he was gay in 6th grade, and even though he only dated and hooked up with men during his time at University of Wisconsin-Madison, he waited until his senior year to come out publicly.“I was involved in Boy Scouts at the national level, and back then in Boy Scouts you couldn’t be gay,” he explains. C., had been an Eagle Scout and a Section Chief in the Order of the Arrow, but felt that he lost election to be National Chief of the Order of the Arrow (the top youth position in the Boy Scouts) due to a whisper campaign about his sexuality.Despite the belief that casual sex in college is widespread, students are actually more talk than action when it comes to hooking up.A new study finds that college students overestimate how much other students are hooking up, or having sex outside committed relationships.
Safe sex Talking about hooking up, however, was common, with 84 percent of students reporting they'd talked with their friends at school about hookups.