Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Arch Sex Behav. 2021 May ; 50(4): 1599–1612. doi:10.1007/s10508-020-01896-4.


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Hooking up, which refers to a sexual encounter (ranging from kissing to penetrative sex) between individuals who are not in a committed relationship, is an increasingly normative form of sexual exploration among emerging adults. Past research has focused on hookups within a heteronormative context, and some of this work has examined hookups as a way to cope with distress. Building on this work, we examined the role of hookups as a means for lesbian and bisexual women to cope with minority stress through increasing connection and engagement with the LGBTQ (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer or questioning) community. A nationally recruited sample of 520 lesbian and bisexual women ages 18 to 25 completed questionnaires regarding their hookup behaviors as part of a longitudinal study. Childhood sexual abuse, posttraumatic stress symptoms, alcohol use, minority stress, and involvement and connectedness with the LGBTQ community were also assessed. First, regression analyses were used to examine baseline predictors of hookup behaviors reported at a 12-month follow-up. Findings revealed that alcohol use was associated with a greater likelihood of any subsequent hookups, and individuals reporting more minority stress subsequently hooked up with more partners. Second, hookup behaviors at 12 months were examined as predictors of outcomes at a 24-month follow-up, after controlling for baseline variables. Findings revealed that hookup behaviors were associated with reduced minority stress as well as increased involvement with and connectedness to the LGBTQ community, suggesting hookups may serve a protective function. Overall, findings support the notion that for sexual minority women, hookups may operate as a means of coping and connection.

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