Journalist Sabrina Weill asserts that "casual teen attitudes toward sex — particularly oral sex — reflect their confusion about what is normal behavior," and adds that they "are facing an intimacy crisis that could haunt them in future relationships.'When teenagers fool around before they're ready or have a very casual attitude toward sex, they proceed toward adulthood with a lack of understanding about intimacy.'" Nationally, women now outnumber men in college enrollment by 4 to 3, leading some researchers to argue that the gender imbalance fosters a culture of hooking up because men, as the minority and limiting factor, hold more power in the sexual marketplace and use it to pursue their preference of casual sex over long-term relationships.

Technological advancements such as the automobile and movie theaters brought young couples out of their parents' homes, and out from their watchful eyes, giving them more freedom and more opportunity for sexual activity.

People are marrying and beginning families at ages later than previous generations, while they are becoming sexually mature earlier.

As a result, Garcia and others argue, young adults are physiologically able to reproduce but not psychologically or socially ready to 'settle down' and begin a family.

These developmental shifts, Garcia's systematic review of the literature suggests, is one of the factors driving the increase in hookups, a "popular cultural change that has infiltrated the lives of emerging adults throughout the Western world." The review shows that hookups are becoming increasingly normative among young adults and adolescents in North America and have taken root throughout the Western world, which represents a notable shift in how casual sex is perceived and accepted.

Garcia and others have noted that the "past decade has witnessed an explosion in interest in the topic of hookups, both scientifically and in the popular media.

Research on hookups is not seated within a singular disciplinary sphere; it sits at the crossroads of theoretical and empirical ideas drawn from a diverse range of fields, including psychology, anthropology, sociology, biology, medicine, and public health." For adolescents, sex and relationships have been decoupled.

Experts worry that if society disconnects intimate sexual behavior and emotional connection that teens who hook up will have trouble forming relationships later in life.

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A hookup culture is one that accepts and encourages casual sexual encounters, including one-night stands and other related activity, which focus on physical pleasure without necessarily including emotional bonding or long-term commitment.