Hook-up leaves one unhappy, sexually unsatisfied, confused


A book titled “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy,” struck me after reading the abstract. In reading the book and others, one would notice that the media, alcohol and drug usage featured extensively in the engagement of sexual misbehaviour. The big question is whether engaging in Hook-up leaves one unhappy, sexually unsatisfied and confused. Additionally, are the media or alcoholic beverages blamed for the recent hook-up business in the country? I herein explore more in this article from the literature available.


Freitas, Donna (2013), defines Hook-up culture as one that accepts and encourages casual sexual encounters, including one-night stands and other related activities, without necessarily including emotional intimacybonding or a committed relationship.

Wolfe, Tom’s (2013) article explained that the term has been widely used in the U.S. since at least 2000. It has also been called non-relationship sex or sex without dating.

Two studies (Armstrong et al. 2010; McKay, Brett, 2013) established that most of the studies on hook-ups have been focused on U.S. college students, but hook-ups are not limited to college campuses as adolescents and adults also engage in hook-ups for a variety of reasons, which may range from instant physical gratification to fulfilment of emotional needs, to using it as a means of finding a long-term romantic partner.

Risk of hooking up

Wade, Lisa. (2017) study found the many negative aspects associated with hooking up. For instance, the effect can range from “emotional and psychological injury, sexual violencesexually transmitted infections (STIs), and/or unintended pregnancy. Downing-Matibag and Brandi(2009) reported that those who engage in hook-ups are aware of the numerous risk but are not bothered.

Downing-Matibag and Brandi’s (2009) survey focused on how students perceive the risk of contracting sexual diseases; only half of a group of 71 students reported having concerns about STI contraction while they engaged in sexual intercourse.  

Further analysis of the survey determined that many students claimed to trust their sexual partners and communities too much and that they were misinformed about sexual risks in general. 

Freitas, Donna (2013) also found that those who engage in this act normally use drugs or alcohol, which makes them forget about those health risks. Two studies (Freitas, 2013; Elizabeth et al. 2002) found that engaging in hook-ups can have negative effects on a person’s mental health as well, including feelings of anxiety or discomfort.

Elizabeth et al. 2000; Elizabeth et al. 2002 suggest that nearly 35 percent of surveyed students described feeling regretful or disappointed after a hook-up.

Two studies (Donna, 2013;  Melissa et al. 2011) attempted to answer the types of regret after engaging in hooking up and established feelings of embarrassment, emotional issues, and an overall lack of respect from their peers.

Garcia’s et al. (2012) review established that hook-ups can result in emotional and psychological injurysexual violencesexually transmitted infections, and/or unintended pregnancy.

Garcia notes that there can be much pressure when it comes to hooking up, which can contribute to discomfort, performance anxiety, and stress.

Garcia et al. (2012) also found that students, both men and women, overwhelmingly regret their hook-ups. For instance, 77 percent of students regretted their hook-ups; and in another, 78 percent of women and 72 percent of men who had uncommitted sex regretted the experience (Garcia et al. 2012; Elizabeth and Kristen, 2002). Cambell, A (2008), study established that intercourse that happened less than 24 hours after a meeting and those that took place only one time are the most likely to be regretted.

Men were more likely to be sorry for having used another person, and women regretted the experience because they felt they had been used(Cambell, 2008).

Freitas 2013, p. 111 found that though women normally felt worse after a hook-up than men do, 39 percent of men expressed extreme regret, shame and frustration with themselves about their hook-up experiences.

Garcia et al. (2012) study of 832 college students showed 26 percent of women and 50 percent of men reported positive emotional reactions following a hook-up, and 49 percent of women and 26 percent of men reported negative reactions following a hook-up.

There are, at least, four explanations for why women may regret hook-ups more than men. Natalie Kitroeff ( 2013) found different attitudes toward relationships, hooking up and sex; there may be differences in sexual initiation and agency within hook-ups; there may be differences in the frequency of orgasm within hook-ups; and there may be differences in perceived inequality in orgasms during hook-ups(Uecker and Martinez, 2016).

Other studies, such as Vrangalova and Ong(2014), found no gender difference. Regretting from hooking up may be linked to negative emotional outcomes, especially in women. According to an article by Steven E. Rhoads, Laura Webber, et al., (2010) “the more partners women have in the course of their lives, the more likely they are to be depressed, to cry almost every day, and to report relatively low satisfaction with their lives”. In Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think About Marrying, Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker(2011) report that having more sexual partners is associated with “poorer emotional states in women, but not in men”.

The American Psychological Association also states that hook-ups can result in guilt and negative feelings. In a study by Edward and Dawn‐arie, (1993) of 169 sexually-experienced men and women surveyed in singles’ bars, when presented with the statement: “I feel guilty or would feel guilty about having sexual intercourse with someone I had just met”, 32 percent of men and 72 percent of women agreed.

In Paul and Haye’s (2002) qualitative study, only 2 percent felt desirable or wanted after a hook-up.  More than a third, on the other hand, felt regretful or disappointed, and others reported feeling nervous or uncomfortable as well.

Drugs, alcohol, and hook-up connection

It appears that drugs and alcohol use have a strong link in engaging in hook-up (Garcia et al. 2013). Most students confessed that their hook-ups occurred after drinking alcohol. Frietas stated that in her study, the relationships between drinking and the party scene and between alcohol and hook-up culture were “impossible to miss”.

Hook-ups “almost always” occur when at least one participant is drunk, according to Kimmel(2008).

Kimmel(2008) further notes that on average, men have five drinks when they hook up and women three.  Gelder et al.(2014) also found that students who reported using marijuana or cocaine in the past year were also more likely than their peers to have hooked up during that period.

Fisher et al. (2012) also found that almost a third of the students who reported engaging in sex during a hook-up reported being very intoxicated, and another third reported being mildly intoxicated.

Two studies, ( Kimmel 2008;  Paul and Hayes, 2002) found that alcohol may act as a cue regarding sexual availability, as a disinhibitor, and as a rationalisation or an excuse for their behaviour, poor sexual performance, premature ejaculation, and other sexual dysfunctions.  

Kimmel 2008 also held that is the “liquid courage,” which allows them to make a sexual advance in the first place. Elizabeth et al. (2000) suggest that the degree of alcoholic intoxication directly correlates with the level of risky behaviuor.

Garcia and  Kruger(2010) study found 33 percent of those who had hooked up indicate that it was “unintentional” and likely from the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Fielder and Carey, (2010) survey of first-year students – women said that 64 percent of their hook-ups came after drinking alcohol. This is similar to Lewis et al. (2011)study, which found that 61 percent of all undergraduates reported drinking alcohol before their last hook-up.

Owen and  Fincham,(2011) showed that greater alcohol use is associated with more sexual activity throughout a hook-up.

The students who reported consuming the least amount of alcohol were also the least likely to hook up. At the other end of the spectrum, the greatest alcohol consumption was associated with penetrative sex, and less alcohol consumption with non-penetrative hook-ups.

Finally,  Taylor, Kate ( 2013)  found that of those who took part in a hook-up that included sexual activity, 35 percent were very intoxicated, 27 percent were mildly intoxicated, 27 percent were sober, and 9 percent were extremely intoxicated.

Hook up and the media

It is now common on the airwaves to see media houses promoting sexual activities. Studies have established the media is a contributing factor in promoting sexual promiscuity. For instance, The American Academy of Pediatrics argues that media representations of sexuality may influence teen sexual behaviour (Bar-on et al. 2001). More studies support this assertion.  For instance, Humphries, Linda (2012) suggest that teens who watch movies with more sexual content tend to become sexually active at an earlier age and engage in riskier sexual behaviours.   

Jones, Sam ( 2006) explained that the idea is that the media may serve as a “super peer” for youths, who then seek to develop a sexual identity that is in line with popular portrayals. Aubrey and Siobhan(2016) found that cable television is filled with reality shows that depict an image of partying and glorified hook-ups, one of the most well-known shows being MTV’s Jersey Shore.

They further noted  that about 35 percent of sexual behaviour on cable television is with people “who are not in established committed relationships”.

Kim et al.(2007) study also explained that in television, sexual monogamy differs by gender, which suggests men stray away from commitment, and women desire it. That further suggests that masculinity is equal to sex and possibly leads male viewers to be more accepting of hook-up culture.

As the cost of personal computers dropped and online access has increased, Heldman and Wade, along with others, argue that Internet pornography has “emerged as a primary influence on young people’s, especially men’s, attitudes towards sex and their sexuality”. Heldman and Wade(2010) believe that the increase in access to pornography via the Internet is what “spurred” hook-up culture, in part by challenging the idea that “good sex” takes place in a monogamous relationship. Feminist Gail Dines has opined that pornography is “a cultural force that is shaping the sexual attitudes of an entire generation” and a “major form of sex today for boys – Don Aucoin (2010).

In conclusion, alcohol and drug usage are highly associated with the modern trend of hooking up in our society. It is prudent for parents and educational institutions to start providing education on the dangers of alcohol and drugs, especially to young ladies to reduce the high involvement of hook-up. Religious organisations should as well use their media to provide education on this public health menace.

Finally, the media must tone down on the promotion of sexual programmes on the airwaves as studies have linked the media as one of the major factors in promoting hooking up or sexual promiscuity.

Also, Teachman, Jay (2003) peer-reviewed found that women who have more than one premarital sexual relationships have a higher likelihood in the long run of disruptions if ever married, with this effect being the “strongest for women who have multiple premarital coresidential unions”. Kahn and London (1991) found that premarital sex and divorce are positively correlated. According to a 2014 report, couples that began as hook-ups tended to have lower marital quality than couples who had not begun as hook-ups.


Prof. Nyarkotey has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations to justify his write-ups.  My articles are for educational purposes and do not serve as medical advice for treatment. I aim to educate the public about evidence-based scientific naturopathic therapies.

Prof. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu is a Professor of Naturopathic Healthcare, a Medical Journalist, and a science writer. Regina Adu Safowaah is a Celebrity and Enterprenuer. E. mail: [email protected]

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