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Although adolescent sexuality is usually examined in the context of romantic relationships, recent attention has also highlighted sexual experiences that occur outside of the context of romantic relationships--also known as casual or nonrelational experiences. Popular press articles, especially, have raised concern that a decline in committed dating relationships among young people may have emotional consequences (Baxter, 2004; Iggers, 2004; Rackl & Hermann, 2005). Indeed, participating in nonrelational sexual activity appears to be quite common among adolescents and young adults, with over three fourths of college students reporting having had at least one such encounter (Lambert, Kahn, & Apple, 2003; Paul, McManus, & Hayes, 2000). Nonrelational sexual behavior has been labeled with terms such as "hooking up" or "friends with benefits," which have been cited both in popular media (Denizet-Lewis, 2004) and academic literature (Hughes, Morrison, & Asada, 2005; Lambert et al., 2003; Maticka-Tyndale & Herold, 1999). Paul et al. (2000) defined a hookup as "a sexual encounter which may or may not include sexual intercourse, usually occurring on only one occasion between two people who are strangers or brief acquaintances" (p. 76). Friends with benefits, on the other hand, is defined as "relationships between cross-sex friends in which the friends engage in sexual activity but do not define their relationship as romantic" (Hughes et al., 2005, p. 49). The three central themes that make up the definitional script, or agreed-on blueprint, for a hookup are that the two parties are not involved in a committed relationship, that the encounter is short-term and occurs outside of a committed relationship, and that there are a variety of sexual behaviors that can be classified as hooking up. The definitional script for friends with benefits varies from that of a hookup only in the length of time (possibility of long-term involvement) and the addition of an ongoing friendship relationship between the two partners.

Health & Well-Being
1 September
Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

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