Young Adults’ Emotional Reactions After Hooking Up Encounters
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Hooking up or a sexual encounter ranging from kissing to intercourse that occurs on one occasion and where the partners do not necessarily expect future physical encounters or a committed relationship has become common place among college students. This study (N = 500) examined gender differences in emotional reactions after hooking up and explored the relationship between specific processes in the hooking up encounter and reactions to hooking up. Compared to women, men reported more positive and fewer negative emotional reactions; however, both men and women reported that the experience was largely more positive than negative. Coital hook ups were associated with fewer negative emotional responses for men as compared to women who engaged in coital and non-coital hook ups and to men who engaged in non-coital hook ups. For those who engaged in coital hook ups, women reported that condom use was associated with fewer positive and more negative emotional reactions whereas condom use was related to fewer negative emotion reactions for men. Negative emotional reactions were also related to reports of depressive symptoms and feelings of loneliness; however, feelings of loneliness were not related to negative emotional reactions after accounting for young adults’ positive emotional reactions. Positive emotional reactions were related to hope for and discussion of a committed relationship. Implications for relationship education and future research are outlined.