Dating Is Dead, But Blowjobs Are Very Much Alive, Says Sexpert
With the recent publication of The Gaggle, Jessica Massa and Rebecca Wiegand's multimedia project-turned-movie-turned book -- as well as other zeitgeisty pieces on the decline of marriage and rise of singledom -- there has been a lot of talk about the death of dating.
The other day, we were chatting about this with Dr. Justin R. Garcia, an evolutionary biologist and sexologist at the Kinsey Institute. He said that a lot of these changes in courtship and dating can be tracked in college hookup culture, which he has studied extensively. We got a chance to talk to him a little bit more today about what he has found in his research.
Garcia said that college hookup culture is tied to what's called the "developmental theory of emerging adulthood," -- the idea that students represent a transitional stage in which they're not quite adults but not adolescents, either.
"Your brain isn't fully-fledged adult brain until your mid 20s," he said.
How does this affect what scholars call the "script" of romance and dating?
"What's become the predominate script on college campuses are sexual hookups," he said, be it kissing or heavy petting or anal sex or vaginal intercourse.
Two things stand out: Kids these days think about oral sex very differently than older generations, which sexologists call a "hierarchical reordering of oral sex."
"If we were to ask an older generation to talk about oral sex, oral sex is something that would happen more after a commitment or emotional bond."
"In today's sexual script, oral sex has become more casual. It happens before intercourse, so that's happening culturally and behaviorally."
Alas, as blowjob culture is booming with this age group, dating is in decline, Garcia explains.
"If they like someone they don't do dinner and a movie and they don't court each other. If that happens, it starts while younger such as in high school."
What happens now?
"You might wake up next to someone and say 'Hey, you wanna go to lunch?' -- and that's a drastic change from the past. There's been a steady decline in dating culture and dating to court often happens after a sexual encounter, if at all."
Garcia cautions, however, that romance and love, etc., are not dead!
At least half of the students he and colleagues surveyed in one study who are hooking up do so to find a relationship -- and half say they do so for emotional gratification. There's no difference between the genders, he said. Ninety percent hooked up for physical pleasure. (Survey takers could select as many reasons as they wanted.)
"People are having one night stands and looking for love," he said. "It's so paradoxical!"
Hookup culture hasn't been studied as extensively in non-college settings, but Garcia and colleagues have collected surveys from over 5,000 single Americans and will soon analyze that data.
We'll let you know when we have any updates!
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.