Alcohol-related hookups, online dating, and the associated negative and positive outcomes in young women
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Models of sexual behavior posit that both pharmacological and expectancy effects of alcohol contribute to myriad sexual behavior. One type of sexual behavior that has recently garnered significant attention is sexual hookups or sexual behavior with a non-monogamous sexual partner. Online dating, a novel methodology for meeting dating partners, alcohol, and individual difference factors may be mechanisms to encourage greater opportunity for sexual hookups among emerging adult women. Although there is support for alcohol-related sexual hookups being related to proximal negative consequences, hookups can also have positive outcomes. Less is known about whether proximal outcomes of casual sex contribute to longer-term psychopathology and indices of well-being. We recruited 164 single, social drinking post-college women to complete baseline, six weeks of daily diary, and follow up surveys on alcohol use and sexual behavior. Within-person level of intoxication was associated with increased likelihood of engaging in a sexual hookup, while women who used online dating reported lower intoxication during a hookup relative to those who met their partner through other means. Further, subscales of sex-specific alcohol expectancies and impulsivity were differentially associated with proximal negative and positive outcomes of sexual hookups. The proximal negative emotional reactions to sexual hookups were associated with higher depressive symptoms, lower self-esteem, and a desire to decrease future sexual behavior at follow up. Conversely, the proximal positive outcomes of sexual hookups measured in the daily diary surveys were associated with higher self-esteem and autonomy, and fewer depressive symptoms at follow up. Overall, our results highlighted the continuum of experiences women have as a result of exploring their sexuality with casual partners, experiences that are influenced by alcohol, individual differences, and contextual factors.