Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Intimacy Through Casual Sex: Relational Context of Sexual Activity and Affectionate Behaviours

  • Justin R. Garcia (a1) (a2), Amanda N. Gesselman (a1), Sean G. Massey (a3), Susan M. Seibold-Simpson (a4) and Ann M. Merriwether (a5) (a6)...
Abstract

Little is known about the role of affectionate behaviours — factors traditionally understood within the context of romantic relationships — in uncommitted ‘casual sex’ encounters. In a sample of U.S. undergraduate emerging adults aged 18–25 years (N = 639) we conducted a preliminary internet-based questionnaire investigation into the role of affectionate behaviours — operationalised here as cuddling, spending the night and cuddling, foreplay, and eye gazing — across two sexual relationship contexts: (committed) traditional romantic relationships and (uncommitted) casual sex encounters. While affectionate behaviours were desired more often in romantic relationships than in casual sexual encounters, many respondents (both men and women) engaged in these affectionate behaviours during casual sexual encounters as well. This was especially pronounced in those who expressed a preference for casual sex encounters over romantic relationships: in a casual sex context these participants were about 1.5 times as likely to cuddle, 1.5 times as likely to spend the night and cuddle, and nearly 5 times as likely to engage in foreplay with a partner. The current study emphasises the importance of considering relationship context in sexuality and relationship research, and the need for further theoretical and empirical research on dimensions of intimacy, including affection, in people's diverse romantic and sexual lives.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Justin R. Garcia, The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, 150 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Lindley Hall 428, Bloomington, IN, 47405, USA. Email: jusrgarc@indiana.edu
References
Hide All
Armstrong, E.A., England, P., & Fogarty, A.C.K. (2012). Accounting for women's orgasm and sexual enjoyment in college hookups and relationships. American Sociological Review, 77, 435462.
Arnett, J.J. (2004). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the early twenties. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Bailey, B.L. (1988). From front porch to back seat: Courtship in twentieth century America. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Bogle, K.A. (2008). Hooking up: Sex, dating, and relationships on campus. New York, NY: New York University Press.
Bradshaw, C., Kahn, A.S., & Saville, B.K. (2010). To hook up or date: Which gender benefits?. Sex Roles, 62, 661669.
Brody, L.R. (1985). Gender differences in emotional development: A review of theories and research. Journal of Personality, 53, 102149.
Claxton, S.E., & van Dullmen, M.H.M. (2013). Casual sexual relationships and experiences in emerging adulthood. Emerging Adulthood, 1, 138150.
Conley, T.D., Ziegler, A., & Moors, A.C. (2013). Backlash from the bedroom: Stigma mediates gender differences in acceptance of casual sex offers. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 37, 392407.
Denes, A. (2012). Pillow talk: Exploring disclosures after sexual activity. Western Journal of Communication, 76, 91108.
Epstein, M., Calzo, J.P., Smiler, A.P., & Ward, L.M. (2009). ‘Anything from making out to having sex’: Men's negotiations of hooking up and friends with benefits scripts. Journal of Sex Research, 46, 414424.
Fielder, R.L., Carey, K.B., & Carey, M.P. (2013). Are hookups replacing romantic relationships? A longitudinal study of first-year female college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 657659.
Fischer, A. (Ed.). (2000). Gender and emotion: Social psychological perspectives. Cambridge University Press.
Fisher, H.E. (2016). Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray, (Revised Edition). WW Norton & Company.
Fisher, H.E. & Garcia, J.R. (2018). Slow love: Courtship in the digital age. In Sternberg, R.J. & Sternberg, K. (Eds.), The new psychology of love (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Fisher, M.L., Worth, K., Garcia, J.R., & Meredith, T. (2012). Feelings of regret following uncommitted sexual encounters in Canadian university students. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 14, 4557.
Finkel, E.J., Eastwick, P.W., Karney, B.R., Reis, H.T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online dating: A critical analysis from the perspective of psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13, 366.
Flack, W.F. Jr., Daubman, K.A., Caron, M.L., Asadorian, J.A., D'Aureli, N., Gigliotti, S.N., … Stine, E.R. (2007). Risk factors and consequences of unwanted sex among university students: Hooking up, alcohol, and stress response. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22, 139157.
Floyd, K. (2002). Human affection exchange: V. Attributes of the highly affectionate. Communication Quarterly, 50, 135152.
Frederick, D.A., Lever, J., Gillespie, B.J., & Garcia, J.R. (2017). What keeps passion alive? Profiles of sexually satisfied versus dissatisfied men and women in a national sample. Journal of Sex Research, 54, 186201.
Garcia, J.R., & Fisher, H.E. (2015). Why we hook up: Searching for sex or looking for love? In Tarrant, S. (Ed.), Gender, sex, and politics: In the streets and between the sheets in the 21st century (pp. 238250). New York, NY: Routledge.
Garcia, J.R., & Reiber, C. (2008). Hookup behavior: A biopsychosocial perspective. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 2, 192208.
Garcia, J.R., Reiber, C., Massey, S.G., & Merriwether, A.M. (2012). Sexual hookup culture: A review. Review of General Psychology, 16, 161176.
Garcia, J.R., Seibold-Simpson, S.M., Massey, S.G., & Merriwether, A.M. (2015). Casual sex: Integrating social, behavioral, and sexual health research. In DeLamater, J. & Plante, R.F. (Eds.), Handbook of the sociology of sexualities (pp. 203222). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.
Garcia, J.R., Seibold-Simpson, S.M., Massey, S.G., & Merriwether, A.M. (2018). Orgasm experiences among emerging adult men and women: Gender, relationship context, and attitudes toward casual sex. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Garneau, C., Olmstead, S.B., Pasley, K., & Fincham, F.D. (2013). The role of family structure and attachment in college student hookups. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 14731486.
Gesselman, A.N., Garcia, J.R., Mark, K.P., & Frederick, D.A. (2018). Consequences of interpersonal touch experiences and attitudes on health, sexuality, and romantic relationships. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Gray, P.B. & Garcia, J.R. (2013). Evolution and human sexual behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Gulledge, A.K., Gulledge, M.H., & Stahmannn, R.F. (2003). Romantic physical affection types and relationship satisfaction. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 31, 233242.
Gute, G., & Eshbaugh, E.M. (2008). Personality as a predictor of hooking up among college students. Journal of Community Health Nursing, 25, 2643.
Hatfield, E., Hutchison, E.S.S., Bensman, L., Young, D.M., & Rapson, R.L. (2012). Cultural, social, and gender influences on casual sex: New developments. In Turner, J.M. & Mitchell, A.D. (Eds.), Social psychology: New developments (pp. 138). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science.
Heiman, J.R., Long, J.S., Smith, S.N., Fisher, W.A., Sand, M.S., & Rosen, R.C. (2011). Sexual satisfaction and relationship happiness in midlife and older couples in five countries. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 741753.
Hertenstein, M.L., Verkamp, J.M., Kerestes, A.M., & Holmes, R.M. (2006). The communicative functions of touch in humans, nonhuman primates, and rats: A review and synthesis of the empirical research. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 132, 594.
Horan, S.M., & Booth-Butterfield, M. (2011). Is it worth lying for? Physiological and emotional implications of recalling deceptive affection. Human Communication Research, 37, 78106.
Jonason, P.K., Betteridge, G.L., & Kneebone, I.I. (2016). An examination of the nature of erotic talk. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45, 2131.
Kruger, D.J., & Hughes, S.M. (2010). Variation in reproductive strategies influences post-coital experiences with partners. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 4, 254264.
Lambert, T.A., Kahn, A.S., & Apple, K.J. (2003). Pluralistic ignorance and hooking up. Journal of Sex Research, 40, 129133.
Lenhart, A., Smith, A., & Anderson, M. (2015). Teens, technology and romantic relationships. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/01/teens-technology-and-romantic-relationships/
Levin, R.J. (2006). Vocalised sounds and human sex. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 21, 99107.
Linden, D.J. (2015). Touch: The science of hand, heart, and mind. New York, NY: Penguin.
Lyons, H.A., Manning, W.D., Longmore, M.A., & Giordano, P.C. (2014). Young adult casual sexual behavior: Life-course-specific motivations and consequences. Sociological Perspectives, 57, 79101.
Mark, K.P., Garcia, J.R., & Fisher, H.E. (2015). Perceived emotional and sexual satisfaction across sexual relationship contexts: Gender and sexual orientation differences and similarities. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 24, 120130.
Meston, C.M., & Buss, D.M. (2007). Why humans have sex. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, 477507.
Muehlenhard, C.L., Humphreys, T.P., Jozkowski, K.N., & Peterson, Z.D. (2016). The complexities of sexual consent among college students: A conceptual and empirical review. The Journal of Sex Research, 53, 457487.
Muise, A., Giang, E., & Impett, E.A. (2014). Post sex affectionate exchanges promote sexual and relationship satisfaction. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 13911402.
Nelson, H. & Geher, G. (2007). Mutual grooming in human dyadic relationships: An ethological perspective. Current Psychology, 26, 121140.
O'Brien, D.T., Geher, G., Gallup, A.C., Garcia, J.R., & Kaufman, S.B. (2010). Self-perceived mating intelligence predicts sexual behavior in college students: Empirical validation of a theoretical construct. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 29, 341362.
Oliver, M.B., & Hyde, J.S. (1993). Gender differences in sexuality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 2951.
Owen, J. and Fincham, F.D. (2011). Young adults’ emotional reactions after hooking up encounters. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 321330.
Paul, E.L., McManus, B., & Hayes, A. (2000). ‘Hookups’: Characteristics and correlates of college students’ spontaneous and anonymous sexual experiences. Journal of Sex Research, 37, 7688.
Petersen, J.L., & Hyde, J.S. (2010). A meta-analytic review of research on gender differences in sexuality, 1993–2007. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 2138.
Regan, P.C., & Dreyer, C.S. (1999). Lust? Love? Status? Young adults’ motives for engaging in casual sex. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 11, 124.
Reiber, C., & Garcia, J.R. (2010). Hooking up: Gender differences, evolution, and pluralistic ignorance. Evolutionary Psychology, 8, 390404.
Sales, N.J. (2015, August 6). Tinder and the dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse’. Vanity Fair, 6. Retrieved from https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/08/tinder-hook-up-culture-end-of-dating
Schmitt, D.P., Shackelford, T.K., & Buss, D.M. (2001). Are men really more ‘oriented’ toward short-term mating than women? A critical review of theory and research. Psychology, Evolution & Gender, 3, 211239.
Schneider, M.E., & Katz, J. (2017). Adult attachment and heterosexual college women's hookup behaviors: Mediating effects of sexual motives. Sex Roles, 77, 419429.
Seibold-Simpson, S.M., Gesselman, A.G., Garcia, J.R., Massey, S.G., & Merriwether, A.M. (2017). Predicting abortion intentions for pregnancies resulting from casual sex. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Shields, S.A., Garner, D.N., Di Leone, B., & Hadley, A.M. (2006). Gender and emotion. In Handbook of the sociology of emotions (pp. 6383). Boston, MA: Springer.
Simon, R.W., & Nath, L.E. (2004). Gender and emotion in the United States: Do men and women differ in self-reports of feelings and expressive behavior? American Journal of Sociology, 109, 11371176.
Slater, D. (2014). A million first dates: Solving the puzzle of online dating. New York, NY: Penguin.
Snapp, S., Lento, R., Ryu, E., & Rosen, K.S. (2014). Why do they hook up? Attachment style and motives of college students. Personal Relationships, 21, 468481.
Stinson, R.D. (2010). Hooking up in young adulthood: A review of factors influencing the sexual behavior of college students. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 24, 98115.
Suomi, S.J. (1995). Influence of attachment theory on ethological studies of biobehavioral development in nonhuman primates. In Goldberg, S., Muir, R., & Kerr, J.. (Eds.), Attachment theory: Social, developmental, and clinical perspectives (pp. 185201). Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.
Trobst, K.K., Herbst, J.H., Masters, H.L., & Costa, P.T. (2002). Personality pathways to unsafe sex: Personality, condom use, and HIV risk behaviors. Journal of Research in Personality, 36, 117133.
van Anders, S.M., Edelstein, R.S., Wade, R.M., & Samples-Steele, C.R. (2013). Descriptive experiences and sexual vs. nurturant aspects of cuddling between adult romantic partners. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 553560.
Vrangalova, Z. (2015). Does casual sex harm college students’ well-being? A longitudinal investigation of the role of motivation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 945959.
Wade, L. (2017). American Hookup: The new culture of sex on campus. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
Wentland, J.J., & Reissing, E.D. (2011). Taking casual sex not too casually: Exploring definitions of casual sexual relationships. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 20, 7591.
Yglesias, M. (2013, July 16). Who will save college students from the scourage of doomed campus relationships? Slate. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/07/16/hookup_culture_makes_sense_saving_students_from_the_scourge_of_doomed_relationships.html
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Relationships Research
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 1838-0956
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-relationships-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed