A Prospective Study of Predictors and Consequences of Hooking Up for Sexual Minority Women

Anna E. Jaffe, Jennifer Duckworth, Jessica A. Blayney, Melissa A. Lewis, Debra Kaysen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Hooking up, which refers to a sexual encounter (ranging from kissing to penetrative sex) between individuals who are not in a committed relationship, is an increasingly normative form of sexual exploration among emerging adults. Past research has focused on hookups within a heteronormative context, and some of this work has examined hookups as a way to cope with distress. Building on this work, we examined the role of hookups as a means for lesbian and bisexual women to cope with minority stress through increasing connection and engagement with the LGBTQ (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer or questioning) community. A nationally recruited sample of 520 lesbian and bisexual women ages 18 to 25 years completed questionnaires regarding their hookup behaviors as part of a longitudinal study. Childhood sexual abuse, posttraumatic stress symptoms, alcohol use, minority stress, and involvement and connectedness with the LGBTQ community were also assessed. First, regression analyses were used to examine baseline predictors of hookup behaviors reported at a 12-month follow-up. Findings revealed that alcohol use was associated with a greater likelihood of any subsequent hookups, and individuals reporting more minority stress subsequently hooked up with more partners. Second, hookup behaviors at 12 months were examined as predictors of outcomes at a 24-month follow-up, after controlling for baseline variables. Findings revealed that hookup behaviors were associated with reduced minority stress as well as increased involvement with and connectedness to the LGBTQ community, suggesting hookups may serve a protective function. Overall, findings support the notion that, for sexual minority women, hookups may operate as a means of coping and connection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1599-1612
Number of pages14
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Volume50
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • Casual sex
  • Friends with benefits
  • Hooking up
  • Perceived heterosexism
  • Sexual behavior
  • Sexual orientation

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