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Skidmore College
Health Services

Hooking Up

General Information

"Hooking up" is a term used by many adolescent and college students, yet it has several diverse meanings. Students use this word to describe many different sexual behaviors that occur outside of monogamous relationships including kissing, oral sex and sexual intercourse. In a survey of the Skidmore campus, 86.9% of students said they had hooked up, according to their own definition of the term. Of students who reported having sex with someone who they were not in a committed relationship with, 57% were under the influence of alcohol or drugs the last time it occurred. Positive experiences that resulted from hooking up included meeting a current boyfriend or girlfriend, while negative experiences included being uncomfortable with the person after the event, not remembering the event because of alcohol consumption, and sexual assault.

What is Hooking Up?

Over 800 students completed the survey and provided a wide range of definitions.  Our students define hooking up as:

  • making out and fooling around but not sex
  • beyond making out, but does not necessarily include oral sex or intercourse
  • oral sex or sexual intercourse
  • Doing sexual things with someone you're not dating or in a relationship with.

Example of a Definition

Anything from the start of kissing up until sex. But not sex. Sex is sex. So, you know, if one makes out with a person (make out: tongue in mouth kissing) and happens to fall in to a bed, which in turn progresses to heavy petting (or, like, groping), and one ends up sleeping in that bed with the other, well that's hooking up. Then again if one engages in The Make Out with another, and both frantically disrobe in a storm of fabric and buttons, and then engage in fellatio and the use of various apparatuses of stimulation, but still the penis does not penetrate the vaginal/anal barrier: that is still just hooking up. A crazy wild kind of hooking up, but still just h/u.

How Common is Hooking Up at Skidmore?

Students were asked if they had ever hooked up (using their own definition of a hook up)

  •  89.6% reported that they have
    • Average # of people students reported "hooking up" with  = 17.25
    • Average # of people students reported having "hooked up" with while at Skidmore = 7.84
    • Average age at first "hook up" = approximately 15

What is your relationship status?

  • 48.7% Single
  • 33.8% Monogamous relationship
  • 3.9% Open relationship
  • 9.7% Hook up with 1 person
  • 3.9% Hook up with more than 1 person

Positive Experience when Hooking Up

From hook up to monogamy

55.3% of students have had a hook up become a committed relationship

  • Most relationships naturally begin as flings or hookups and develop into more committed relationships
  • We were first friends, then we hooked up, then we became friends with benefits, and eventually stared going out.

---Well, my relationship with my boyfriend started physically before it had started really exclusively. we made out one night, and then we went farther from there, and decided a few weeks later that we wanted to be together.

---Well, thing is, you see, that one rarely hooks up with a complete stranger. Usually one h/u with an individual who one has admired/courted/flirted with for some time. Therefore hooking up is like testing the waters....It's sort of the reverse of the way one would expect a (rational/mature) relationship to progress: in finding out one's own sexual compatibility with the other, one discovers the potential (emotional) relationship. SO. The positive side of any h/u is ostensibly two-fold. Firstly, the joy in attaining that which one has pined for. Second, the possible development of - if not an actual relationship - a series of later h/us. Most hook ups, unless with a total stranger, are expected or wanted. Thus, usually, positive.

Negative Experiences

  • It was a little uncomfortable trying to define the relationship afterward
  • I stayed over, I really liked him, and he didn't speak to me in the morning
  • I went to a party and drank way too much vodka and rum and I blacked out. I vaguely remember making out with a girl. It took me a week to figure out who I had hooked up with.
  • Hearing about it the next day and not realizing it had happened.
  • I lost my virginity when I really didn't intend to. It was a terrible experience and I hated myself for putting myself in a bad situation.

The Influence of Alcohol and Drugs on Hooking up

63.4% of students reported that they have had sex with someone who they were not in a committed relationship with.  Of these:

  • 57% were under the influence of alcohol or drugs the last time this occurred

"I usually hook up with someone for the first time when I'm drunk and then we have sober encounters afterwards."

Common Behaviors

  • 51.9% Had a one night stand
  • 56.4% Been in a "friends with benefits relationship"
  • 67.4% Made out with someone who you knew for less than 24 hours
  • 32.5% Had oral sex with someone who you knew for less than 24 hours
  • 26.2% Had sexual intercourse with someone who you knew for less than 24 hour

 Condom Use

58% of students report that they "always" use a condom when having sex with someone who they are not in a committed relationship with.

Those who don't use condoms every time were asked why not. 

  • Using a condom would require planning/ foresight/ assumption that is usually absent....the sex sort of just happens, and the condom is kind of an afterthought, particularly because of the existence of emergency contraception as an alternative option...