New Harvard Study Surprising Results On Millennials “Hook-Up Culture” And It’s Not What You Think

If you’re one of the people who wants to slam your head against a wall when you hear the term “hook-up culture” (me!), then a new survey released this week from the Harvard Graduate School of Education may be music to your ears.

The report, called “Making Caring Common,” found that not only do young adults not hook up nearly as much as older people and even their peers think they do, but that they are left wanting more resources and conversations on how to build real relationships. 

When adults and teenagers were asked what percent of 18- and 19-year-olds they think had more than one sexual partner, what percent had hooked up with more than 10 people in college, and what percent were dating casually, most responded that the amount for all three questions was probably about 50 to 70%. 

Millennials are not hooking up as frequently as you might think.

But they were way off. According to 2011 data from the Center for Disease Control, approximately 27% of 18- to 19-year-olds nationally (both in college and out) had more than one sexual partner in the previous year, and only 8% had four or more partners. According to a 2013 national survey, only 20% of students have hooked up more than 10 times by their senior year of college. 

And, among 18- to 25-year-olds, only 8% reported casually dating with 67% reporting that they were dating exclusively, cohabiting, or were married and 25% reported having no relationship at all, according to a 2011 Child Trends study

It may seem harmless to have this perception of a robust “hook-up culture” among young people, but the study also showed that the notion that all millennials want to do is hook up leaves them wanting better examples and more information about healthy relationships.

In fact, 70% of 18 to 25-year-olds involved in the Harvard Graduate School of Education survey said they wished they had received more information from parents about the emotional side of relationships, including “how to have a more mature relationship” (38%), “how to deal with breakups” (36%), “how to avoid getting hurt in a relationship” (34%), or “how to begin a relationship” (27%). 

This can not only hurt young adults in pursuing relationships, the study says, but can also inhibit them from identifying when a relationship isn’t healthy. 

“Many parents may not see providing guidance on romantic relationships as their role, not know what to say, or feel hobbled in these conversations because of their own romantic failures,” the study reads. “But relationship failures can generate as much wisdom as relationship successes, and all adults can distill their wisdom and share it in age-appropriate ways with teens and young adults.” 

The authors suggest that parents and teachers encourage a dialogue about healthy relationships and call out behaviors that can be harmful. 

“Helping young people develop the skills to maintain caring romantic relationships and treat those of different genders with dignity and respect also helps strengthen their ability to develop caring, responsible relationships at every stage of their lives and to grow into ethical adults, community members, and citizens.”

 Kristin SalakyInsider






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