Casual Hookups to Formal Dates: Refining the Boundaries of the Sexual Double Standard

Julie A. Reid, University of Southern Mississippi


Hooking up, a popular type of sexual behavior among college students, has become a pathway to dating relationships. Based on open-ended narratives written by 273 undergraduates, we analyze how students interpreted a vignette describing a heterosexual hookup followed by a sexless first date. In contrast to the sexual script which holds that women want relationships more than sex and men care about sex more than relationships, students generally accorded women sexual agency and desire in the hookup and validated men's post-hookup relationship interest. However, in explaining the sexless date, students typically reasoned the woman was being chaste and withholding sex to redeem her reputation whereas they often characterized the man's abstinence in terms of a pity date. The findings underscore the tenacity of gendered sexual scripts around heterosexual dates and hookups but also reveal fissures and contradictions that suggest some changes to the sexual double standard.