Do college women just want sex and not relationships?

Over the course of a year The New York Times interviewed 60 women at the University of Pennsylvania to delve into what is happening sexually on college campuses these days.

From The New York Times (Please read the whole article. I can only pull so much, and it is worth your time.):

“It is by now pretty well understood that traditional dating in college has mostly gone the way of the landline, replaced by “hooking up” — an ambiguous term that can signify anything from making out to oral sex to intercourse — without the emotional entanglement of a relationship.

“Until recently, those who studied the rise of hookup culture had generally assumed that it was driven by men, and that women were reluctant participants, more interested in romance than in casual sexual encounters. But there is an increasing realization that young women are propelling it, too.”

“Hanna Rosin, in her recent book, “The End of Men,” argues that hooking up is a functional strategy for today’s hard-charging and ambitious young women, allowing them to have enjoyable sex lives while focusing most of their energy on academic and professional goals.”

It should be noted that “At colleges nationally, by senior year, 4 in 10 students are either virgins or have had intercourse with only one person, according to the Online College Social Life Survey. Nearly 3 in 10 said that they had never had a hookup in college. Meanwhile, 20 percent of women and a quarter of men said they had hooked up with 10 or more people.”

Also you should know that nationally women outnumber men four to three in college enrollment. (I absolutely see this in my journalism classes. I’ll have  four boys and 16 girls in the class. And I have commented to my husband if these guys can’t get dates with these percentages then there’s no way to help them. The article thinks that disparity is giving the boys more power in choice forcing the girls to give it up more easily.)

With that said, here are some of the arguments from women in the article for hooking up and not developing a real relationship:

  • No time for real dating or a real relationship, focusing on academics or clubs to increase their resumes. One women compared a relationship to taking up as much time as a four-credit course
  • Truly a “feminist” and in control of their bodies and how they want things – ie sex as a stress reliever, fun thing
  • Why invest in a relationship when graduation is approaching and we will have to go separate ways for jobs or more schooling
  • How do I know how he is going to turn out
  • How do I know what I am going to want down the line

While I am sure some girls are happy pursuing just the physical act of sex without the emotion, I don’t believe that most of these women want sex without a relationship. I think that over time they have adapted to what the men are willing to give (what they have shown they are willing to accept) and have decided to own it so they feel less crappy about it.  Here’s an example from the story.

One girl in the article went to college as a virgin thinking she would lose it her first boyfriend. But she soon realized that didn’t seem to be happening. So she settled on losing it to a boy she found hot and was nice that she knew from class. The kicker here is that he walked her home in the morning and that was a huge deal.

Standards ladies! Let’s have some standards! We shouldn’t be excited that they would do us the courtesy of walking us home after having sex with us.

From the NYT:

“It’s kind of like a spiral,” she said. “The girls adapt a little bit, because they stop expecting that they’re going to get a boyfriend — because if that’s all you’re trying to do, you’re going to be miserable. But at the same time, they want to, like, have contact with guys.” So they hook up and “try not to get attached.”

Now, she said, she and her best friend had changed their romantic goals, from finding boyfriends to finding “hookup buddies,” which she described as “a guy that we don’t actually really like his personality, but we think is really attractive and hot and good in bed.”

Women need to have higher standards and then the men will be conditioned to behave as gentlemen again. There are loads of ways for women to satisfy that sexual urge that doesn’t allow men to stop respecting them. Who do these women think they are going to marry later in their late 20s and 30s? The same guys they let have it in their early 20s without any expectations of emotion or commitment? What has that taught this generation of men?

So I am thinking about letting my 12-year-old daughter read this article. I think now is the time to talk to them about this stuff while they are still listening to you. It seems like later as teenagers they just tune you out to spite you. I think it’s important for my daughter to know that women don’t have to treated this way and don’t have to allow it. Her generation should expect more from men even if she chooses eight years of college or more.

So what do you think of the premise of the hook up and of women being in control of it? Are they just responding to what men are willing to give? Would you share this with your daughter? What would your main points be to them?

47 comments Add your comment


July 15th, 2013
6:26 am

Not sure about all other college girls but I know this is not happening with my daughter nor her close friends. Happy for them too.

This point is probably true:

No time for real dating or a real relationship, focusing on academics or clubs to increase their resumes.

We are just home from an out of state wedding. The bride is 25 and the groom is 31. They told everyone, at the reception, they are ready to start a family NOW and plan to have 3-5 children. Interesting, to me. The bride has always wanted to get married and really wants to be a Mom. Groom has a good career but not the bride. A sweet and cute couple. I certainly wish them happiness!

Randy Rockmart

July 15th, 2013
6:43 am

TWG…I can tell you that good young men that want to treat ladies right are absolutely checking out of the game and just doing their own thing. I am 35 and married for over a decade but I see this happening all around me. The kind of guy that wants to be a gentleman is passed over without a glance for the aloof, hot guy and a quick hook up instead of a relationship. These same women who are giving up the goods at will through their 20’s will be the same ladies hoping the nice guy comes knocking when they are in their 30’s screaming about where are all the good men…


July 15th, 2013
6:59 am

I cannot speak for now as my college days ended in 1983 – seemed a bit different then but perhaps the study is accurate based on current trends. I can concur with @MJG as it relates to not having the time for a “real” relationship.

Mother of 2

July 15th, 2013
7:08 am

I don’t have daughters, but I can tell you that my sons are more interested in real relationships than casual hook-ups. And I know of many other college students in their early 20’s who prefer real relationships. While I don’t doubt the information in this article, I think there are plenty of young people who aren’t jumping on this bandwagon.

Teach your kids to respect themselves as well as others and they probably won’t end up in the hook-up camp.


July 15th, 2013
7:57 am

I did some research papers in my college days (ending in 1996) on women and controlling the reproductive cycles. The findings above really do not surprise me. Neither did the title of the book. The conclusion of my research then was we would continue to see men devalued (it was already happening among African Americans and lower socio-econmic groups). A decline among societial common core values of work, family life, and promiscuity would occur. Unfortunately it did come to pass.

Personally I hope my children do better at relationships (friend, family, and partering) than I did.

I also hope that we do find a good solid core of socially accepteable standards to rally around. The do what you feel like only works so far….and yeah that come from the libertarian.


July 15th, 2013
8:12 am

“Her evidence for women the globe over consists of thin, small facts cherry-picked to support outsize claims. ” (quote from article on The End of Men that TWG linked)


July 15th, 2013
8:15 am

I have a 22 year old son who is finishing his last year in college. I am in the same boat as “Mother of 2″ and “Randy Rockmart”. My son has wondered where all the good girls are. By good girls, he means the ones who want a gentleman for a boyfriend, who have regard for his feelings and don’t want to just “hook up”. He’s a normal 22 year old and a United States Marine so it’s not like he hasn’t been around a little…but he’d really like to find a young lady who has respect for herself, who hasn’t slept with more men than she can keep track of and has a good head on her shoulders. I guess he’ll have to wait until he graduates and gets away from college. His words…”I’m finished with trying to find a meaningful relationship in college. I’ll just focus on my grades (yay!) and on graduating and wait for the right girl to happen someday.” Seems like the tables have turned from when I was in college.


July 15th, 2013
8:18 am

“Do college women just want sex and not relationships?”

College men say, “By jiminy! We hope so!”


July 15th, 2013
8:22 am

Yes, girls are like this. Even the girls with boyfriends and parents that think they aren’t doing this are doing it. In fact, it is usually the girls that act like they are wholesome and restrained that are most likely to hook up. I am sorry if your head has been in the sand for the last 40 years.


July 15th, 2013
8:26 am

No offense to the parents on the board, but if your kids are engaged in casual sex, I don’t think they’re going to tell you.

Tchrmom – I’m sorry your son hasn’t found the woman of his dreams yet, but he is YOUNG and needs to get out there and live without having to worry about the maintenance of a relationship. There will be plenty of time to settle down later. P. S. Just because a woman enjoys sex doesn’t mean she’s not a “good girl.” Not having regard for your son’s feelings says a lot more about her character than her sex life.


July 15th, 2013
8:27 am

Here’s some advice boys that has served me well.- be like the lazy shortstop- cacth everything hit right to you but don’t dive for anything. After all, if she threatens to cut you off, just ask how can she cut you off if she doesn’t know where you are getting it?


July 15th, 2013
8:57 am

@Beck…no offense to you but you do not know all parents and children on this board. Do you know any of them personally? I do. I am not speaking for my son but I am speaking for my daughter. We are close and talk about most everything. Not sure Mothers talk about this with their sons.

@ tchrmom…my daughter is 21, attractive, hard working and a good student. She values herself and this is not, at all, something she is interested in. They are out there…I know several.

I think Mother of 2 summed it up well: Teach your kids to respect themselves as well as others and they probably won’t end up in the hook-up camp.

My son is now 26 with a six figure income. He has not lived at home much, so I really do not know what he is up to. I cannot see him in this type of lifestyle. He is a focused person. After 8 years of schooling, he is ready to settle down. I am hopeful he will find a kind person with a work ethic and family values. I will be ready for some grandchildren in about 5 years…haha!

C from Marietta

July 15th, 2013
9:20 am

They interviewed only 60 women. Anyone that has taken statistics knows this is not a big sample size. Study reeks of bias.

Who Cares!

July 15th, 2013
9:34 am

You parents who say that “my child isn’t in the hookup camp” are fooling yourselves. About 75-80% of high-school teens and college kids are “hooking up” if they get the opportunity. Maybe your child is just socially awkward and not that attractive. There is nothing wrong with this, but saying that they are better than that or some other righteous alternative is just BS. You people sound like broken records. I knew some of the biggest goody two shoes people in college as well as party animals. For the most part every single one of them was going to get some action if they had the chance. Many of these virgins are just so socially awkward that even the drunken manwhore/whore wouldn’t hook up with them. Sorry people, sounds like you are just in denial.


July 15th, 2013
9:47 am

My oldest son is in the 8th grade, and he has already decided to “check out” of the dating scene. He told me, “I guess it’s the way you raised me, but if I don’t think the girl is marriageable, then I don’t want to date her.” I guess he came to that conclusion because I’m constantly giving him positive (true) stories about men and women who have waited for sex until marriage. We read one story the other day where a guy went to the 6:30 a.m. mass before work everyday, and prayed to find the right woman. He found her, at the 6:30 a.m. mass, where she was also praying for the right man. That’s what he wants; the fairy tale :) My second son, who is gorgeous (from all the comments girls make about him) tells girls outright that he won’t be ready to date until college (yes, they ask him)…and he is emphatic that waiting until marriage is a must. I think they will find those girls if they stay rooted in their faith.

I dropped my fried twinkie

July 15th, 2013
9:58 am

They LOVE Drunk HOOK-UPS but hate to be date raped…..but that is basically the same thing.

Young Lady

July 15th, 2013
9:58 am

“Teach your kids to respect themselves as well as others and they probably won’t end up in the hook-up camp.”

I have to say that I think self respect has nothing to do with it. And really reinforces that people think that these girls are just ‘bad girls’ which in my experience they aren’t. The issue is more the fact we tell kids they have to succeed, succeed, succeed and then expect there won’t be sacrifices in their social lives. I know several people that have hooked up. They aren’t people that lack self respect as much as they are people unwilling to compromise for a relationship whether it’s making time or letting a person interfere with their goals. That’s a completely different issue, and still a serious one but not one of self-respect. The time one is a big thing I’ve noticed for college age people in that they feel like if they aren’t working or doing something for school they are wasting time. Which isn’t true and that attitude doesn’t promote a good balance to me.

I dropped my fried twinkie

July 15th, 2013
10:15 am

How is Enjoying Sexual Pleasure the same as not respecting ones self?
How do you know what Good Sex is if you don’t try it with a few different people?
Do you buy a car without Test Driving it first?
Have Sex if they want but don’t get pregnant and have an abortion because you were Stupid and try to Erase your MISTAKE his a wrong answer on a test.


July 15th, 2013
10:27 am

lol @ the naive parents in here. “My daughter doesn’t do any of that…” HA!!! Yes, she does, and probably more than all of the other girls.


July 15th, 2013
10:45 am

The phrase was: “A woman can do anything a man can do, and better”. Well, it kind of looks like that’s true. Except that now, many lament that women are doing the bad stuff just as good as men too.


July 15th, 2013
11:08 am

I did not read the article but based on the stats TWG pulled out of the article, this is a ridiculously small sample. 60? I think I could get a better response if I polled the college students on my friend list and I’m not even in college!


July 15th, 2013
11:23 am

My 28 year old son, an employed medical professional, recently married; my 25 year old son, out of college for 3 years and employed, told us he is mature enough to know that he is not mature enough to get married.

And, sorry, but daughters DO NOT tell their moms EVERYTHING, no matter how close you are; this does not mean they lie to you, they just do not tell you everything.

And, as I heard from Andy Stanley in church a couple of years ago related to people who are trying to find a marriage partner, are you the type of person the type of person you are looking for is looking for?

I dropped my fried twinkie

July 15th, 2013
11:26 am

In the mid-80’s the girls living on the top floor of Brumby Hall labeled it the Sl.t Deck because guys were landing on naked girl like planes on an aircraft carrier.
Mind you the GIRLS called the Floor that name not the guys. The Girls had the guys do the Walk of FAME instead of the girls having to do the Walk of Shame from the guy dorms.


July 15th, 2013
11:27 am

TWG – my comment is in cyberspace


July 15th, 2013
11:47 am

…”This point is probably true:

No time for real dating or a real relationship, focusing on academics or clubs to increase their resumes.”

For some reason I find this thought to probably be the furthest thing from actuality in over 50% of the women currently in college (and 49% is still a huge number if this thought is true)…yes, there are those in college who take the academics seriously, but to totally abandon the social aspect is probably not high on their lists, thought there are some.

And, as I think back on my own college years back in the early 70’s, I am totally appalled, appalled I tell you, that I was such a dork – you’ve heard of “a rebel without a cause”, well, “I was a rebel without a clue” – I truly cannot fathom that I was so clueless about life, or the opposite sex…


July 15th, 2013
11:55 am

Society pats a young man on the back for sexual prowess and condemns a young woman for the same act. He’s a stud and she is labeled as loose.


Sexual gratification for simple conquest is an empty victory equally for both genders in my mind.


July 15th, 2013
11:59 am

@lakerat…I agree that they do not tell you everything. Do they need to? Mother’s do have a sense about what is happening. Having a daughter, to me, is different than having a son. I have one of each. I did not talk to my mother about my love life, that is for sure. The relationship I have with my daughter is much different than the one I had with my mother. She calls /texts me every day. She is pretty active in church and this type of thing is not acceptable. I am aware that some kids look one way in church and act another way outside. That is not her. I am proud of her standards and ethics. She is a cut above other young woman her age. She is confident and well liked by her employer, co workers and friends.

So many of our acquaintances tell us how lucky we are, with our kids. YES we are somewhat lucky but they both knew what we expected of them and they ( pretty much) stayed on track with it. My daughter has never even had a speeding ticket nor an accident. My son had had a few speeding tickets but no accidents. I am grateful for that!

I like your last paragraph. I will share it with my two! What I hope for in his wife, are attributes he does have: kind, hard worker and family values. We’ll see!


July 15th, 2013
12:08 pm

Oops…some mothers do have a sense. I certainly could be wrong…we will see!


July 15th, 2013
12:10 pm

Being a product of the 60s, I may have a little different slant on things.

There are women who, for their own reasons, want to hook up – no strings, no attachment, just some fun recreational sex. There are also men who have the same attitude. I don’t see where that is any of my business — if that’s what works for them, then its right for them. Their attitudes may change later on, but for now, they are doing what works.

To the guys (or girls) that care who the other person slept with before them — why? We had this discussion a while back in a philosophy class. This scenario is not mine; it belongs to the philosophy professor. It goes like this:

Shortly before you are to marry, your partner comes up and says “Darling, I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you, but I want you to know that before we met, I slept with __ people.”

What number makes that a deal breaker for the marriage? One? Ten? 200?

My answer is it doesn’t matter. All I care about is what happens after she met me. What she did before she met me is none of my business. And vice versa – my previous sex life is none of my business. The only thing that should happen is both parties should be tested for STDs. But that should happen with any marriage. You need to start from a known point.

Like I said, I come at things a little differently. An yes, I do have a grown daughter and yes, we’ve talked about this kind of stuff.


July 15th, 2013
12:19 pm

Everyone knows preachers daughters are the best in bed.


July 15th, 2013
12:57 pm

Enter your comments here


July 15th, 2013
1:00 pm

Is there an after market for these women who get incurable STDs? I strongly suspect many will end up barren, emotionally and physically, expecting Obamacare to pick up the tab for their infertility treatments and infinite counseling.


July 15th, 2013
2:00 pm

These hook ups are fine if the other party knows whats up. Un suspecting young men may feel used for their bodies and have relationship problems down the road. Young men are vulnerable, as an older guy I would volunteer to help the young ladies satisfy their need for hook ups to help save those young men that may not be able to handle being used.


July 15th, 2013
2:27 pm

Relationships are so yesterday.

non committal mind reader

July 15th, 2013
2:43 pm

Your article is so loaded with your own stereotypes , TWG, that you can’t see the forest for the trees. This is WOMEN treating MEN badly. That some women don’t like the situation caused by other women is part of the story. Example:

“I think it’s important for my daughter to know that women don’t have to treated this way and don’t have to allow it.”

??? It is the WOMEN who are treating THE MEN this way. THAT is what this article is about! Your response should have been:

“I think it’s important for my daughter to know that women don’t have to treat men this way.”

Even when gender roles have been turned on their heads by women and society, you seem to STILL find a way to make it men’s fault. College aged women are in control, and they are flexing their power by treating men as throw-away, and you are blaming it on the men?

When men had the power, men (pretty much universally) liked the power. Now that women are gaining the upper hand, half can’t decide if they like being in control, and are blaming men?? How about starting to take responsibility for the bad behaviour of your gender… the way you demand men take responsibility.


July 15th, 2013
2:43 pm

One might think these young female college students are aware of Herpes simplex, Human Immunodeficiency virus, Papilloma virus, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomonas, oral carcinoma, cervical carcinoma, venereal warts, unwanted pregnancies, the risk of hormonal suppression of ovulation and pregnancy, genital ulcers, bladder infections, etc. as well as the general physical and emotional deterioration of women engaged in prostitution. Also, who will want these well used aging women? I guess the “Lean In” lady will come to their rescue.

Craig Lintom

July 15th, 2013
2:49 pm

The clueless moms in these comments are hilarious. Yes, your daughter has probably had at least a few one night stands and may even have an STD. She has probably had at least one threesome and possibly even been in an orgy. It’s college, not a convent – Get a grip.

Simple Truths

July 15th, 2013
3:04 pm

“even if she chooses eight years of college or more.”

Please encourage her not to become a professional student.


July 15th, 2013
3:08 pm

non committal mind reader I wish we could like comments on here like on fb. I would certainly have hit “like” to yours.


July 15th, 2013
5:04 pm

I agree with FCM and non committal mind reader. Even though men are usually the target of venom and blamed for problems on this blog, this is as much a woman problem as a man problem.


July 15th, 2013
8:54 pm

So, as noted above, if the Online College Social Life Survey found that, “by senior year, 4 in 10 students are either virgins or have had intercourse with only one person”, doesn’t that mean that nearly half of college students nationally are not hooking up casually? Four out of ten means there should be quite a few men and women that are potential partners for those looking for a meaningful relationship.

And I thought...

July 15th, 2013
9:12 pm

…I was the only one, Ann, who, too, thought what you wrote…

[...] York Times Investigates UPenn, Discovers Women In College Have Casual …Huffington PostDo college women just want sex and not relationships?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)NY Times article highlights hookup lifestyle in college, how [...]


July 16th, 2013
6:49 am

Honestly — I don’t WANT to know about my daughter’s sex life. None of my business. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t talk about men, boys, relationships, expectations, etc. I am in awe of her ability to “cut to the chase” — she is very interested in a relationship, but she doesn’t put up with any crap. She went out with a man who told her on their first date that he had a 4 year old child. Okaaay. A red flag, but not necessarily a disqualifier. The disqualifier? A few dates later, oh, he forgot to tell her about the 9 month old baby he also had. Cut. A guy she dated who got possessive after two dates, and demanded to know where she was? Cut. A guy who didn’t call when he said he would (”it keeps a girl interested”)? Cut. She doesn’t play games, and has little patience with boys who do.

My son has found dating difficult in his mid-20’s, as he is interested in a relationship, but most of the girls he’s met where he works are focused on a career or graduate school.


July 16th, 2013
5:22 pm


I disagree that these women have “the power.” Fact is, what they once gave sparingly they now distribute with abandon. If a man can’t get it from one “lady” he needn’t go far to find another more accommodating of his wants. Tom Paine knew it when he wrote “what we attain too cheaply we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only that gives everything its value.” Put another way, when it’s not hard to get it ain’t worth much.


July 18th, 2013
7:42 am

“what they once gave sparingly they now distribute with abandon” – ha! HA HA HA HA!
Where have you been the since 1968?

Now, please tell me how all these so-called loose ladies are Obama’s fault. There’s not nearly enough of that crap in the AJC comment sections.


July 18th, 2013
3:48 pm

Obama is not the direct cause of women/girls abandoning their senses. Rather, he’s the effect of a society looking for instant gratification from a government doling out free stuff without a thought concerning who bears the cost.

I know exactly what was going on in the 1960s and have lived to see the disaster people with no judgment attitudes have foisted on those who followed.