Do Guys and Girls Want Different Kinds of Relationships in College?

“Skidmore has a population of complacent men and sad women.”

The Ugly Truth

How often do we see this stereotype perpetuated?

For a Social Research Methods class that I was in this semester, I and three other classmates spent the fall conducting a sociological study on whether gender affects what people look for in relationships. How often do college students hear about their friends hooking up with someone they don’t know and regretting it afterwards? For many of us, this is a weekly occurrence. And, as a girl, most of my friends feel that the “hook-up culture” doesn’t let them find the kinds of relationships they are actually looking for. Too many of my friends, who are beautiful, intelligent, funny, kind girls, are too often settling for whatever they can find (which, in many cases, is an array of douchebags, dickheads, and assholes). I once heard about a guy who referred to a girl he was hooking up with as his “Saturday night pu**y”). This is why guys get a bad rep. Because there are some assholes out there who ruin it for the rest of them – these assholes are just more vocal.

So, is there actually a difference between what guys and girls want? Do guys just want to hook up? Do girls always want emotional attachment? These are the questions we were trying to answer with our research. Check out the rest of the study here:

We were testing the pre-established stereotypes that exist around gender that assume specific roles for each gender. We expected our results to be aligned with these stereotypes – that men would look for sexually-based relationships and women would look for romantically-based relationships. We also thought that men would be more willing to have casual sex and random hookups than women. Additionally, we thought that women would be far less optimistic than men, based on our prior knowledge of the female population and the sex ratio (60/40, women/men) at Skidmore. This is what we found:

Gender Study - 60,40We studied a total of 66 participants, 41% male and 58% female (one participant did not report their gender). Conveniently, the respondent’s gender demographics pretty accurately represent Skidmore’s sex ratio.

Gender Study - Romantic Relationship

One of the questions on our survey asked about the type of romantic relationships people were looking for. The results, as shown in the graph above, were very telling – an overwhelming majority of each gender said they were looking for emotional attachment and romance, although men were more likely to choose the “any of the previous” option. Using this data, we concluded that men and women are both looking for consistent romantic relationships (which was not what we had hypothesized).

Gender Study - Sexual RelationshipIn a similar question, we asked what kind of sexual relationship people were looking for. The results of this question reflected the results of the previous question – both men and women were looking for consistent sexual encounters with one individual, though the percentage of women who chose this option was slightly higher than the percentage of men.

Gender Study - Life Partner

What is shown in the graph above is that women felt much more strongly than men that they would not find a life partner at Skidmore – men were much more neutral.

Gender Study - OptimismOne of the most telling results dealt with how optimistic people felt about finding what they were looking for. As illustrated by the graph above, women did not feel nearly as optimistic as men. Most women responded “disagree” and most men responded “agree” to the statement “I feel optimistic that I will find what I am looking for.” Another result showed that 65.8% of women have not found what they were looking for in relationships, while only 48% of men have not found what they are looking for in relationships.

Gender Study - Sex Ratio

Additionally, women felt that the sex ratio affected them very negatively or negatively, while men felt either neutral or positive.

Perhaps the most telling statistic we found was in response to the statement, “I feel that casual sex without emotional attachment is something I would enjoy.” 44.4% of men agreed with this statement, while only 14.8% of women did.

In the end, we concluded that, despite what the stereotypes might say, men and women do look for similar relationships in college. However, men are more flexible – this means that they are generally less unhappy with what they can find. Finally, we also found that despite the general sense of pessimism among Skidmore students, they have not lost all hope. SO, guys and girls out there, don’t lose hope. Girls, don’t worry, not all guys are just looking for random hookups – don’t give up! And guys, don’t be the douchebag who perpetuates the stereotype – be the gentleman we all know you are.

Here’s a related article: http://www.hercampus.com/school/yale/are-guys-and-girls-actually-emotionally-different

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2 thoughts on “Do Guys and Girls Want Different Kinds of Relationships in College?

  1. D says:

    Okay this article has some serious holes in it.

    For one thing, your study presupposes a hard gender binary/hard heteronormative swing, which, though regrettable, is I suppose acceptable. I mean chances are it’s still the majority at Skidmore anyway.

    THAT SAID, you still have some faults. This is a sociological study, yes? By the way that you word things, it sounds like it was done by paper survey. Have you considered the effect of demand characteristics on your study? Was this single- or double-blind?

    Considering that your hypothesis was ‘proven’ by your findings, I only consider it more necessary that your study techniques be investigated… especially with the wealth of contemporary studies proving that the gender binary is much more a construction of our culture than any sort of biological imperative (https://www.genderspectrum.org/understanding-gender).

    So you’re starting your study on a flawed assumption, first off. What about non-hetero persons? What about non-binary persons? You conveniently leave these samplings out. Gosh, if you’re only studying heteronormative binary folks, I REALLY AM SO SURPRISED that your findings reinforced heteronomative binary beliefs.

    I mean come on. And I’m not even going to start with the sex-shaming weirdness of bashing ‘hook-up culture’. You can have a whole bunch of hookups and still be a good person, y’know

    • ipaulesbronet says:

      Thanks for reading and for your comment. You are very right about the heteonormativity of this study – one of our biggest limitations was that we were looking at a very strict gender binary, simply because this made our research easier. If we were going to do further research, we would definitely consider sexuality; we realize that was a big flaw. I’m glad that you brought these issues up – we dealt with most of them in the actual study, but I didn’t put every result into this post, just the ones I felt that people would find interesting. I actually was not trying to show that our hypothesis was “proven;” I meant to show the exact opposite. I also was not trying to bash hookup culture. We based the study off the observation that many people do not like the hookup culture – we recognize that many people love the hookup culture (otherwise, why would so many people participate in it?). I agree that you can hook up with many people and still be a good person; I hope I was not insinuating the opposite.

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