In this study (N = 192; 124 women, 68 men), consensus definitions of one-night stands, booty-call relationships, friends-with-benefits, and serious romantic relationships were fashioned using a sample of university students. Participants provided a Likert and forced-choice assessment of how each relationship was characterized by the functions of sexual gratification, trial run, placeholder, and socioemotional support. Serious romantic relationships were primarily used to gain socioemotional support. Friends-with-benefits relationships were motivated by seeking a placeholder until someone better came along and as a trial run for a more serious relationship. Booty-call relationships and one-night stands were motivated primarily by a desire for sexual gratification. Men ascribed a greater range of reasons to engage in sexual relationships than women did and the more short-term the relationship was in nature, the greater the emergence of sex differences in ascribed functions.
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Sex that occurs among individuals with little sexual commitment who know each other nominally.
Friends who also engage in sexual behavior together without any formal commitment.
Sexual relationships that tend to occur among acquaintances.
Predictions are confined to the potential primary functions for each relationship.
For a small effect, α set to .05, and β set to .50, the necessary sample size was 193. For a medium effect, a sample of 65 was needed with an α of .05 and a β of .80.
Given the imbalance in cell sizes here, no analyses were conducted on sexual orientation.
No differences were detected across this distinction and, thus, further details are omitted.
Participants were not provided with a definition of each relationship because the goal of the study was to use the functions to better define these relationships. Familiarity with these relationships was assumed in the method, but participants were instructed that if they had any questions to contact the researcher. No questions were submitted.
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The author thanks Capricia Wesley for help creating the online instrument to collect data, Pamela Izzo Ray for the conversation that spawned this study, Gregory Webster, Jocelyn Wentland, Joshua Foster, and Leisha Colyn for reviewing earlier versions of this article.
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Jonason, P.K. Four Functions for Four Relationships: Consensus Definitions of University Students. Arch Sex Behav 42, 1407–1414 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-013-0189-7
- Booty-call relationships
- One-night stands
- Serious romantic relationships
- Sex differences