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Modern romance: Hanging out and hooking up

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A nationwide study of 1,000 college women suggests that virgins are more prevalent than many would expect, while the traditional courtship rites appear to be disappearing.

But the survey also says that many college women prefer so-called "hook-ups" to dating. Hook-ups are defined as encounters ranging from kissing to sexual intercourse where both participants expect nothing further afterward.

More than a third -- 39 percent -- of respondents described themselves as virgins, and 40 percent said they had had hook-ups. Ten percent of college women responding to the poll said they had hooked up more than six times.

According to the survey, the traditional dating culture is less prevalent. Women said they are rarely asked out on dates and instead experience romantic encounters during informal gatherings of male and female friends, referred to as "hanging out."

The poll says 91 percent of college women reported what was described as a rampant "hook-up culture" on their campuses.

"The common thread throughout all of this is the presence of alcohol," said Kate Kennedy of the Independent Women's Forum, which commissioned the survey.

"There's this group-think mentality in which people go out in packs because it's the comfortable thing to do." Kennedy said that when she was dating not long ago in college, "it was so nerve-wracking. It was almost like taking a final exam. What was the point of doing it? It wasn't fun. Let's just hang out with our friends, it's so much easier."

Other points of the study:

-- Fifty-three percent said that "it is a good idea to live with someone before deciding to marry him."

-- Ninety-nine percent said, "I believe that when the time is right I will find the right person to marry."

-- Sixty-three percent said they would like to meet their future husbands in college.

The survey -- which was completed over an 18-month period -- was sponsored by the Independent Women's Forum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational group founded in 1992.

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