Swiping Right: Alcohol, Online Dating, and Sexual Hookups in Postcollege Women


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Abstract

The development of online dating has created a cultural shift in how emerging adults approach dating. The present study examined retrospective and event-level associations between alcohol, online dating, and sexual hookups among a sample of single, postcollege women. Participants completed baseline and 24 electronic daily diary surveys on alcohol use, sexual behavior, and method for meeting their sexual partners. We examined the influence of alcohol on sexual hookups, and how method of meeting a partner, and location prior to the hookup influenced level of intoxication during a sexual hookup. There was a within-person effect of alcohol on likelihood of engaging in a sexual hookup whereby hookups were more likely on days when women reported higher levels of intoxication relative to their average drinking. Spending time at bar/party prior to a sexual hookup was associated with higher levels of intoxication prior to a sexual hookup relative to being at other locations. Measured in the daily diary surveys, meeting a sexual hookup partner online was associated with lower levels of intoxication during the hookup relative to when meeting at bars/parties, even when including location just prior to the hookup in the model. The baseline retrospective analyses also indicated that meeting a partner online was associated with drinking less frequently before a sexual hookup relative to meeting a partner at a bar/party. Interventions to address alcohol use, method for meeting a partner, and location prior to hookups could be effective in decreasing potential negative consequences of alcohol-related sexual behavior in emerging adult women.

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