But the kind of in-depth research that Hamilton and Armstrong have done into women’s feelings about hookups doesn’t seem to have been done for college men. And if there’s anything we can learn from these studies, it’s that assumptions based on conventional narratives have a pretty good chance of being wrong. “We found that women, rather than struggling to get into relationships, had to work to avoid them,” the researchers wrote.
But, rather depressingly, the dorm ethnography also found some big downsides to relationships.
Of 46 women they interviewed on the subject, the researchers found 10 accounts of boyfriends using abuse to avoid a breakup.
The researchers suggested depressed women might seek out sex as a way of dealing with their condition, or might be perpetuating a negative cycle by “unconsciously engaging in sex in doomed relationships.” But they also hypothesized that societal double-standards might play a role in depression.
“Guilt, regret, and the violation of societal expectations may contribute to female psychological distress,” they wrote.
They also note that hooking up rarely happens between total strangers and often involves “relatively light” sexual activity.