What Exactly Is A “Booty Call” Anyway?

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The "booty call": an elusive form of casual sex that researchers have now begun to untangle the meaning of.

Old Phone

Photo: tantrum_dan on Flikr

Old Broken Phone....redefining the booty call

A recent issue of the Journal of Sex Research contains a paper that examines the “Booty Call” relationship. The title says a lot about the findings: “Positioning the Booty-Call Relationship on the Spectrum of Relationships: Sexual but More Emotional Than One-Night Stands”. It was conducted by psychology professor Peter Jonason, at the University of West Florida and two other colleagues, Li and Richardson.

The authors examined the types of sexual and emotional acts involved with booty calls in addition to the comparison of these sex acts to those in long term relationships and those engaging in one night stands. Leaving directly after sex and avoiding hand holding distinguished the booty call from relationships. But frequent kissing, convenience, and longer term (usually about a semester) availability distinguished the booty call from a one night stand.

Changes over time

I have noticed the incredibly casual nature of a lot of sexual relationships that occur these days. It makes me wonder whether these types of casual sexual relationships existed in previous generations. The hyper-technological society we live in (that I previously blogged about and you can check out here) is certainly facilitating these casual relationships. People are incredibly available at any hour with very little effort, particularly with text messaging.

How often does it happen?

The author of the manuscript noted that about one third to two thirds of college-aged men and women participate in friends with benefits or booty call sexual encounters.

Gender differences

The only gender differences found in this particular analysis were that women wanted to talk more after the sexual act (could this be feeding into the stereotype any more?).  The author also notes that the motivation for a booty call may also differ between men and women. Men tend to do it for the sexual access with low investment (no time, money, or energy spent trying to “woo” her). Where women tend to do it to expand their pool of potential mates, thinking that it may turn into something more substantial later on.

I’d be interested to see another study published from this data (or other data with more than 123 participants, which was the sample of this study) specifically examining the gender differences. I don’t think that all women (or even the majority) would agree that they engage in booty call relationships in hopes of it turning into something more substantial.

What’s it all mean?

From an evolutionary standpoint I guess it makes sense. Men can be free to spread their seed (and by that I mean have sex with…as I assume not many of the men engaging in booty call relationships are looking to reproduce with those women) to multiple women without commitment. Women can be free to shop around taking men for a test drive before deciding if they want to become more committed to one man.

So it seems the booty call is here to stay, for better or worse. Pretty interesting line of research if you ask me.

Kristen Mark, PhD, MPH

completed her PhD in Health Behavior and her MPH in Biostatistics, both at Indiana University. Kristen is an Assistant Professor in Health Promotion at University of Kentucky. Kristen's research focuses on sexual pleasure, sexuality in long term relationships, sexual function, and women's sexuality.
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