Social & Education Policy

“Hookups,” Dating, and Relationship Quality: Does the Type of Sexual Involvement Matter?

Paik, A.


Are partnerships that begin as “hookups,” “friends with benefits,” or casual dating relationships less satisfying and rewarding than serious sexual involvements? This research tests whether selection, experience, or mediation processes affect associations between types of sexual involvement and relationship quality. Drawing on a sample of 642 urban adults, we estimated ordinary least squares and treatment-effects regressions examining associations among types of sexual involvement, joint investments, and relationship quality. The results indicated that sexual involvements in nonromantic and casual dating contexts were associated with lower relationship quality in comparison to serious contexts, but these effects were completely accounted for by selectivity. Controlling for joint investments did not mediate these selection effects. The findings support the notion that screening processes associated with sexual involvement have important implications for later relationship quality.


Paik, Anthony. 2010. “Hookups,” Dating, And Relationship Quality: Does The Type Of Sexual Involvement Matter? 39 (5). Social Science Research: 739 - 753. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2010.03.011.