ERP 407: Things To Consider (Biologically) When Engaging In The HookUp Culture — An Interview With Dr. Joe Malone

By Posted in - Podcast January 16th, 2024 0 Comments

The hookup culture is a societal shift characterized by casual, short-term sexual engagements, highlighting a reluctance to commit to long-term relationships. This cultural phenomenon, especially prevalent among young adults and college students, poses challenges rooted in an insufficient understanding of the physiological and emotional aspects involved. The immediate pursuit of pleasure, combined with societal expectations, frequently results in miscommunication, unmet expectations, and emotional turmoil, reshaping the dynamics of modern relationships.

In this episode, Dr. Joe Malone and Dr. Jessica Higgins share valuable insights and actionable steps to navigate this complex landscape, providing a nuanced perspective on fostering healthier connections amid the complexities of contemporary dating norms. Join us as we unpack the intricacies of the hookup culture and discover strategies to cultivate more meaningful and fulfilling relationships.

Dr. Joe Malone, The Sexual Integrity Scientist. holds a Ph.D. in Health and Human Performance with a minor in neuropsychology and a specialization in women’s health and sexual wellness. He taught at Middle Tennessee State University from 2005-2017 and has guest lectured at Vanderbilt and Princeton as well as other major universities. He’s the author of Battle of the Sexes: Raising Sexual IQ to Lower Sexual Conflict and Empower Lasting Love.

In this episode

5:40 From fitness to sexual wellness advocacy: Dr. Joe Malone’s profound journey and insights into hookup culture.

13:46 The impact of technology on hookup culture and the quest for genuine connection.

22:10 The desires and challenges of young men in building meaningful relationships.

26:52 Dr. Joe Malone advocates for the vital role of marriage in young men’s lives.

34:56 The challenges young individuals face in understanding their sexual desires amid prevalent societal messages.

39:04 Exploring the influence of testosterone and oxytocin on sexual thoughts and bonding.

40:58 Empowering women to redefine relationship standards and prioritize quality over quantity.

47:23 Balancing tradition and individual expression in contemporary contexts.

Your Check List of Actions to Take

  • Learn about your body’s physiological processes, especially related to the menstrual cycle, to empower informed decision-making.
  • Recognize the influence of hormones like testosterone and oxytocin on sexual desires and bonding to navigate relationships more consciously.
  • If participating in hookup culture, proceed with caution, considering the potential emotional and physiological consequences, and prioritize mutual understanding and respect.
  • Emphasize emotional maturity as a foundation for relationships, fostering a deeper connection beyond physical attraction.
  • Encourage women to recognize their agency in setting relationship standards, emphasizing quality over quantity in partner choices.
  • Adapt traditional values to modern contexts by retaining key physical boundaries while allowing for diverse expressions of individuality in relationships.
  • Promote open and honest communication about desires, expectations, and boundaries to avoid misunderstandings and foster healthier connections.
  • Acknowledge the potential positive impacts of marriage on well-being, both psychologically and physiologically.


Battles of the Sexes: Raising Sexual IQ to Lower Sexual Conflict and Empower Lasting Love (*Amazon Affiliate link) (book)

Connect with Dr. Joe Malone


Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins






Twitter: @DrJessHiggins 


Email: [email protected]

About Today’s Show

Dr. Joe Malone, thank you for joining us today.

Thank you, Dr. Jessica Higgins. Really glad to be here. It’s a privilege, thank you.

Yeah, me too. I very much appreciate that you come from a background of various degrees, three degrees, have done a level of research, written a book, and you have a lot to offer. You teach and do a lot in your career. It’s always helpful to have someone coming from that vantage point that can add some real perspective to some of these conversations. I know you have supported a lot of people around sexual intimacy, and couples in general. I’m curious if you’re willing to share, just for people who maybe aren’t familiar with you, a little bit of what got you interested in supporting this kind of area.

I would be happy to. It’s really a different way of getting into this. I’ve worked in health and wellness for decades. I was actually working in the fitness industry here in Nashville, when I had the opportunity to teach at one of our local universities, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), on a master’s. Going to the university from the fitness industry, I was carrying with me a lot of baggage, as far as a lot of folks from the mid-90s to about 2005 or so that I was working with in the fitness industry, some of them were literally dying because of the terrible fitness and health habits they had going in with traveling and eating at restaurants all the time and not getting exercise. I literally ended up, with my hands, giving chest compressions on one of our members, and he didn’t make it after about 20 minutes. So that was a horrible experience. He was turning all kinds of different colors that humans shouldn’t be; purple, green, and all that, and getting cold underneath my hands. 

To tell you the truth, I was almost ready to get out of that disillusion. But had this opportunity to go to MTSU and teach in their health and wellness department. I came across research, in the meantime, of how young women, at the time that they are pregnant and carrying their babies, have a huge impact on the baby’s health. In the third world, if there’s a situation where the babies are born 5.5 pounds and less, then it usually builds in defects into their organs, all of them; heart, lungs, and kidneys, livers, all that. Then if they’re over 11.5 pounds, especially going up from there, and our girls in our society are struggling, many of them, with their weight, then the same thing, problems are built in. 

I realized at that point that, again, while I had been working in the fitness industry, that we were getting overwhelming numbers coming at us, and we were trying to work with him one-on-one, like personal training and that type of thing. That was like an impossible task. This would allow you to work with these young women, and prospectively, most of them are going to have maybe two, maybe three, whatever kids. Plus, they’re going to influence her husband. So this was a way to exponentially attack that problem. 

In the midst of all that, though, in the midst of getting the PhD, I interviewed 32 of them in depth, and then I had 10 focus groups. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I created a women’s class, a women’s conditioning class, and taught that for five years. 

But in the midst of all this, Jessica, the thing that ended up being the overwhelming finding from my PhD research was that they’re really in a bad way, with what they informed me and educated me, was the hookup culture they were experiencing. So this thing that as an undergraduate way back when, obviously it was like dating and that type of thing when I was doing it. But they were describing all of this, basically just casual sex. All the things they’re asked to do. If they didn’t like the guy, then they’re supposed to have sex with him. If they did like him, then they weren’t supposed to have sex with him, and they weren’t supposed to catch feelings, and there was not supposed to be any emotional ties. And what they were sharing with me was that, that really went against their grain. It went against what I would call their sexual nature. 

So I went to my committee, my PhD committee, and told them about this unexpected finding, and asked them: “Hey, could I maybe go in this direction, sexual wellness, instead of just overall wellness?” They said, yeah, we don’t think there’s anybody else doing that from a physiological perspective. So that’s what happened, I ended up going that direction, and ended up doing much more research since then. I found out that in most cases, the young women that were expressing their angst and their anxiety and depression, because of what they were going through, was well-founded, because it pretty much goes against most women’s sexual natures to have to be put in that position. Does that get us there?

I mean, look, there’s no way to do justice to your work in such a short interview. I appreciate you giving us a sense of your journey and how you got really connected to the hookup culture, and the research that you did. That was in the mid-90s originally, and then you’ve been continuing?

It started actually in 2005 and 2006, so it’s been since then. It started out though as that holistic, basically.

Let’s look at all of your markers of well-being. 

Right, but it really quickly became overwhelmed. Once they started sharing with me, it became overwhelmed with the sexual wellness aspect to it, something that I had not really even expected. Because I taught there for 12 years, and you know, you’re right there around them, you’re walking across campus all the time. Because I taught co-ed classes, pretty much all the classes in health and wellness area over there. But you never see it. Unless they share what’s happening in their lives, you don’t see what’s happening personally. So once I realized this is really something that’s disruptive in their lives, then I started researching it and searching for information on it. I found out it was pretty much widespread across the United States, but also, all the western countries pretty much.

This is really important. Because as I connect this to the importance of relationship and how often, not for every person, but often we’re wired up for bonding and having a significant person, and having that relationship that is a source of safety and well-being. It’s a huge aspect in one’s life. If that’s stable and consistent and healthy, then likely, other areas we can feel resourced to be able to do the other things. You’re speaking to primary research that’s really pointing to that. Even though you weren’t really setting out to look at that, it was something that bared through the research. 

I’m curious, as technology has evolved and the dating apps. I mean, I was just meeting with a client earlier this week, and she’s not a young adult. But she’s in the beginning phases of maybe a second marriage, like approaching, dating for another second relationship. She’s just remarking on how the dating apps are. It’s almost she’s really struggling with how it reduces the sense of value. She’s like: “I don’t want to put a bikini photo up there. But yet, that’s what everyone’s doing.” She’s on a pretty high, invite-only, very VIP people and high level people. But she’s still seeing what feels very reductionist to her around her appearance or how she is physically. She’s a very beautiful person, and yet she’s still just struggling with. Also, the hookup culture. It seems as though that’s what people are participating in. So have you seen technology also coincide with the dynamics?

Oh, yes. That was another factor that really, I think, fed the fire, so to speak, as far as the situation with them. Again, the time I was teaching over there, 2005 to 2017, I saw the iPhones come in basically. One thing that I did, just on a side note, is I purposely never got one. I wanted to show them that you can actually live without them. 

Do you still not have one? 

I still don’t have one. But my wife, I pester her every once in a while when I need to call, or when I need to do something on it that my setup won’t work. I’ve got an iPad, but I just don’t have an iPhone. 

So you’re a living example of not having a phone on you at all times, okay.

One in seven I guess, because 6 billion people on the planet have them already. Not already. But that was one other thing about my classes. Besides eventually the sexuality things we’re talking about, I tried to get them to make more person-to-person communication and get off their phones and that type of thing. I can tell you some stories, but we don’t have time. But Tinder and all the different dating apps, that was another big complaint they had. 

Once I got into this, Jessica, not only did I study it from the angle of the college students, but then I started interviewing some of my former students that were now out there, they’re post-college, still single. I interviewed 21 single post-college women from age 22 to 43. Not all of them were my students; some of them were just people I knew from otherwise. But anyway, 19 out of 21 were in bad straits with the situation. Again, Tinder and all the different ones. Bumble, that was one that they named. It kind of just commodified them basically, in this case the woman, and also, went to really push the superficial elements. Like you’re saying, the bikini shot and that type of thing. 

It also created a choice overload situation. Especially, I think on the male side of it, what they were experiencing in a lot of cases was, and this is like 10 years ago maybe, between five and 10 years ago. So things may have changed more recently. But they were finding that men, especially with having the ability, the ones that they want to date, which again, I understand there’s a lot lower percentage of men that get interest on the dating apps than the women that get interest. Because most or many of the women get the interest on the dating apps, but this smaller percentage of men do. So then they get kind of overloaded basically, avalanched. So it made it into a situation where it’s very superficial. Again, it’s another area where many of the ones that I interviewed, the 21 that I interviewed between 22 and 43, they just were in despair. Some of them especially said, I just don’t do the dating apps anymore. They’ve kind of come to the point where they just said: If it doesn’t work out for me, it’s better than this meat market thing with these people that you meet in this way. 

The other thing they said was, generally there, you meet the people, and like I said, they don’t look very much like the photos they’ve put on there. Then also, some of the things that they’ve said about themselves aren’t true and this type of thing. So anyway, I think the internet has only complicated things more and taking it in a more challenging direction. Then I would say, especially for women, to finish off my thought there, what they said was men know that they have 10 more choices after me, and so they’ve got 10 more choices already lined up. As far as finding one that will commit to a long-term relationship or a marriage relationship, they’re very, very few and far between. So what they reflected to me was really a negative picture of it.

I think unintentionally. I think technology can be used in many different ways, so in and of itself, it’s not necessarily bad. But as we’re still early in the developmental process of utilizing technology, it’s just so rapid, and we’re not even clear on the impact of how we’re using it and the impact and what the results are. But that it’s commodifying, as you’re saying, and also can feel very highly competitive, and also, it’s almost like this ad; we’re putting out an ad about. It may not even be entirely true. As we’re saying, we might amplify certain things or accentuate certain other things, and it might not be the best representation. 

You’ve been talking and researching and interviewing mostly women. I will say, just to add to the conversation, I work with a lot of men, and men are also feeling the struggle of really finding these genuine, authentic, reciprocally satisfying relationships. They’re also longing for a deeper level of intimacy and having that stability and longevity. I know classically, and as we talk about heterosexual relationships, there’s stereotypes that the woman with the oxytocin and bonding and the hormones there, and then everything that’s involved. As well as the male perspective, that we would more classically say the man is more reluctant to commit and be interested in long-term, and maybe a little bit more apt to engage in hookup culture, because of maybe some of that compartmentalizing that is possible for the male brain. But do you find that? I mean, you’ve been talking to men too. But it sounds like you’re kind of looking at hookup culture can be detrimental to any person. Do you want to say a little bit more about that?

Yeah, exactly. Along the way, I ended up getting asked by the administration to go speak to some fraternities as well, that were getting themselves in trouble by having signs come out on the orientation, at the beginning of the semester. Having signs saying: “Drop your freshman daughter off here, and you can leave mom here as well.” I ended up having some sessions with them. It turned out that you’re right, Jessica. I’d say there was a minority of the guys in that situation that were kind of immature about all this and living up to the stereotype we’re talking about. But I think a majority of the guys in that situation, and I know the majority because they communicated with me, they said, we don’t want to be like this. They said, we’re not like this really. We don’t want to come off as being misogynistic. They didn’t have those terms, but that’s where they were coming from.


“I think on both sides, in both sexes, there’s a desire for more of a richer relationship. I think there’s a desire, on the guy’s part, to do things that we would consider chivalrous from the past. They want to treat women with respect. I guess respect would be the way to put it. And they want to have women that aren’t necessarily sexually experienced.”

Again, that’s some of the research. Well, it didn’t surprise me I guess, because I’m a guy. But some of the highest characteristics, and again, you know this, and probably the audience knows as well. But when young men are asked what are the characteristics you want to see in a potential marriage partner, and then they also ask short-term sex partner. In the marriage partners, the top two out of 67 were sexual loyalty and sexual integrity. For somebody they’re going to marry, they want to be able to trust them. They’re not really interested, in a lot of cases, of them having a long sexual history. 

So again, when I talked to them, then I asked them, well, if that’s the case, then why are you so willing? Some of you too have your own long sexual history that you’re asking your future wife to absorb. Again, most of them I think, if you talk through it with him, they have a more mature attitude, eventually. You have to get down. But the thing that they realize, and again, you know, this you’re a psychologist. But their brains are just really, still from 18 to 22, their brains are still maturing. They still haven’t got that GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) system set up until probably 22 to 25, and that’s the main inhibitory neurotransmitter system in the brain. So we’re working with still pieces of clay in that way. So they need a lot of this kind of input, though. That’s why what I’ve been able to do, as far as speaking, I’ve spoken across the country, and more and more these days, they need this kind of influence, I guess you’d say. Because their leadership, in a lot of cases, is really not going in this direction. So if they get leadership in this direction, they have a tendency, I think, to be willing to follow.

That’s important. You’re speaking about perhaps leadership of certain institutions, schools, and also other areas of domains of engaging in community, or subsets; whether or not it’s if somebody is going to church or has different extracurricular, there’s coaches, there’s various people that are going to be in leadership. Also, collective, culturally. Perhaps our conversation and our dialogue is starting to include more of this understanding, and giving more room and range for people’s experience. That perhaps a young man doesn’t have to participate in certain behaviors to be accepted or to be seen as cool or whatever. I mean, I know that’s kind of archaic, how I’m describing that. But we’re evolving, we’re changing, and I think there is more space and room, and more maturity, as we start to have more education and more dialogue. Is that what you’re saying? 

Yes, that’s what I’m saying. The other thing I tried to throw into the discussion is the importance of marriage in their lives, at least most of them. Again, there’s getting to be a higher percentage that are opting not to marry. But I did some research on 437 of our undergraduates at MTSU, I think right around the time of the pandemic. Let’s see, 97% of them said they would like to marry in the future. Some of this recent research I just looked at, I think it was like 86% are saying that they wanted to get married. Even though, in the same research, 40% of them said that they thought that marriage had started to outlive its usefulness. So a lot of my work these days is trying to talk to them about reconsidering that. Because I think for humans, with my research at least, for humans, marriage is an extremely important institution, and it really holds a lot of things together. 

Again, in my life, with three degrees, there’s a bunch of other things I could list out that I’ve been blessed to accomplish. But really, my marriage that I look back on has really been the key human relationship in my life. There’s just so many positives. I mean, there’s just all this research, let me just read you a quick list here, just some physiological research. Marriage basically has these physical and psychological effects. It reduces your chances of hospitalization, need for surgery, dying after bypass surgery, getting pneumonia, getting rheumatoid arthritis, gum disease, viral infection, dementia, clinical depression, heart attack, being jailed, being murdered, being killed in a car wreck, and committing suicide. I mean, that’s a laundry list. And being somebody that’s been in the relationship environment or field for the number of years you have been, I’m sure you’ve come across marriage being a huge element, as far as our well-being and our thriving. But again, there’s a lot of ways that can go wrong. 

I think there’s a lot of young people, you and I would agree. There’s a lot of young people these days, especially by the time they get to college age, that have seen a lot of bad, in maybe their own parents’ marriage. There’s not a lot of good role models in a lot of cases. But it’s an argument that I think needs to be made, because there is, again, just so much so many benefits to it, and it’s under-appreciated. I would say it’s under-appreciated by their age group, as far as the role. 

I go at it, Jessica, from different scientific perspectives, as far as the scientific proof that we are by nature, for the most part, a monogamous species. Because, again, our bodies are different than the non-monogamous species. The difference with the chimpanzees, you know they’re very different from us. Even though we’re similar in so many ways, as you know, we’re right around only 1% difference in DNA. But because they’re promiscuous by nature, the males have three times as large of testicles as our males do. Even though we’re bigger; humans have bigger bodies. The females, and this is pretty true of all promiscuous species, females have the conspicuous swelling of the genitals around the time of estrous or heat. Again, we have concealed ovulation and all that. 

The other thing is, again, from a scientific perspective, and there’s a lot more that we can throw in here. But our children, the human children take the longest by far to mature. Having two people working on it, taking care of them and helping them, nurturing them, helping them grow up 15 to 20 years at least probably, is very, very important. The interesting thing I try to lead with these young people, as far as physical proof to what we’re talking about here, the difference between a mostly monogamous and mostly promiscuous species: multi-male/multi female species, is even in STIs or STDs, however you want to say that. Because, again, you probably know this, but maybe some of your audience don’t. Chimpanzees are immune to gonorrhea, syphilis, and several other STIs and STDs, because they’ve been promiscuous all these thousands of generations. We haven’t. They ended up with a higher white blood cell count than we have. 

So laying these kinds of facts on the college students, I think helps them to see that there’s an argument here from a scientific perspective that, like I discovered with young women in my classes that shared with me, this was going against most of their sexual nature. Now, again, there’s exception to this. Because what the research has also shown is there’s about 15 to 20% of women, that for whatever reason, in a lot of cases it’s in-utero testosterone exposure higher than normal, they ended up with a more of a male typical organized brain. So they ended up coming out with more of like, they’re okay with hookup culture, I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. As a matter of fact, in my research with 21 (22 to 43-year-old) single post-college women, two of them were okay with hookup culture, two out of the 21. They happened to live in big cities, each of them, Boston and Atlanta, and they were in grad school. They said, we actually are okay with Tinder and with all the different apps. They said, because that’s the only way, being strangers in this town, that we can get to know somebody. I said, what about other grads? They go, we’d like to date guys, but we can’t date the guys we’re in grad school with, because we know that we’re all going to go different places; we’re going to end up in different places. So anyway, they had a rationale for it. But again, that was a two out of the 21. So the 19 that were deadly set against it, and there was two that actually seemed to be okay with it. 

Right, contextualize it and really make sense of it in ‘first time in place’ setting, that they could support that style for that time being. So one of the things that’s occurring to me as you’re describing, is that it could be quite confusing for someone who’s setting out and trying to discern how they want to approach relationship, and you’re giving a lot of research. I will just say, personally, just to echo what you had said, the work I’ve done in my marriage and my relationship has helped me grow greater than any other avenue, and also allowed me to feel a sense of organization and integration. I did come from a background of trauma and various things that were difficult. So to have that metabolizing, that healing, that integration, and just to feel the strength of our bond. I want to welcome people who have different structures, identify differently, as far as their sexual orientation and identity, and just that there’s a range. But I think what we find is there’s a human bonding that is so essential for our health. I would even say, researchers, it’s not even a preference. It’s like a need like water, we need to have this security and safety in relationship. 

So I love that you’re voice for this, and helping people navigating the beginning stages of relationship, and how they want to engage in relationship, and what kind of exposure they have, to be mindful and to have more information. Again, I’m just also acknowledging that it can be quite confusing. There’s a lot of messaging around sex, and it can be quite difficult to know what one wants when they’re beginning to establish their direction. What do you think?

Oh yeah, I agree completely with everything you just said. I think one of the biggest things, Jessica, is that most of them that I deal with. This is all up into college, but even the younger ones as well. First of all, the women don’t understand their own systems in a lot of cases; they don’t understand how ovulation works, they don’t understand their menstrual cycle and what that does to them. So that’s a big part of it. I’ve had a couple of master’s level now, health professionals, who have read my book, and they said about chapter two, which is about the menstrual cycle and all the different things that are happening to women mentally and the effects of it. They said, young women need to know that, and they said I didn’t learn that till just now. Again, they are master’s level professionals. So there’s that. 


“I think the biological sex differences between the two, they generally don’t know about those things. They look at things regarding the other sex, and motivations, and the way they’re thinking, they look at them and they think they’re thinking the same way that I am. But there’s a lot of difference in a lot of cases.”

Just because, again, of the pretty gigantic differences, as far as the way the anatomy of the brain is for the males versus the females, the levels of testosterone particularly. Just to kind of fill that in, in the male brain, there’s three areas that have to do with sex drive and sexual attraction, that are twice as big as in the female brain, and they’re twice as packed with twice as many neurons. So they’re more much more dense, and they’re reactive to testosterone. So men have, on average, 20 times more testosterone than women. Plus, women have this SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin), and it deactivates testosterone and estrogen. But again, women end up with a lot less, in most cases, other than what I was saying earlier, the 15 to 20%, the exception to the rule, they end up with a lot less sex drive for sex’s sake, I think, than men do. Outside of that fertile window, that day 8-14 maybe in their cycle, if they’re cycling naturally, especially if they get around alcohol during that time period, because alcohol actually raises their testosterone and lowers their prefrontal cortex.

They’re more attractive usually, and they’re going to get a lot more attention too, just because of the biology as well.

Yeah. But they don’t understand those things, and they don’t understand a lot of other things that I try to teach them as far as the sex differences. I feel really bad about this, because I think so much of our rape culture and our problems with all kinds of sexual assault on campuses, and elsewhere, I think a lot of it lies in the way that the two (heterosexual) sexes don’t really understand the makeup of the other’s mind, and just their kind of overall chemistry. Because the chemistry generally is so much different when it comes to sexual areas. Now, we’re obviously both humans, male and female humans. But the differences I found, the principal differences have been in the sexual area as far as the way we function. Otherwise, we function very similarly, in most cases. But when it comes to sex drive, and testosterone being a sex-seeking hormone and estrogen being sex-receptive, and again, throwing in the women’s cycle as far as the way it dictates certain things.

Yeah. I remember in my master’s programme, there was a few different people that had come to talk. Then since then, I’ve actually had people that I’ve experienced in various sets and settings that have shared about transitioning from transgender human who’s transitioning from female to male, and testosterone, and they’re like: Oh my gosh, I think about sex all the time! Or having to do a treatment where they’re doing testosterone and having experienced that higher degree of testosterone and just remarkably like, I am thinking about sex so much more than I normally do. It’s quite eye-opening for someone who has been operating with less, to be experiencing more in what that’s been like. Just even the oxytocin around the bonding, there’s so much more for females after having sex, that there’s that bonding hormone. I’ve had people. I had a hair stylist, actually years and years ago, who was like, write a book about this! Because she attributes a really bad relationship, I think marriage and had her child, and she was like, I don’t regret that. But she was like, it’s all due to oxytocin. I was bonding with him when he shouldn’t have been. So before we lose you, do you want to say anything about that?

Oh, I agree. I agree with that completely. I mean, the differences in levels of oxytocin and testosterone between the males and the females, that explains so many things. 


“A lot of the heartache and heartbreak for the young women I was dealing with, was because they were bonding with these guys when they were having sex with them, and the guys weren’t. So they ended up heart-broken afterwards, and the whole damage emotionally.”

So yeah, it happens time after time after time. Go ahead, what was the next thing you want to talk about?

Well, I guess I’m curious. I know we’re talking about a lot of the challenges of this hookup culture. So what are you encouraging people to do that’s different?

Well, again, this is going to be controversial. But what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to get the young women to realize, at least, again, most of them, 80-85% of them, it’s in their nature to demand a lot from a male before they allow access to sex. I’m trying to get them to realize that they kind of have this superpower, that if the bar is this level, the guys will do whatever they need to do to get over it. But if they raise it to this level, they’ll do the same thing. Again, there’s a lot of complications these days; the influence of porn, the internet, the phones, the fact that a lot of guys are scared to go up to a woman face-to-face and ask them. So there’s a lot of other things that are mediators and mitigators to this. But in general, I think, if young women go with more their instinct, and look for quality and not quantity necessarily in men, which is what they have a tendency to want to do anyway. Just again, demand. 

Well, first of all, I guess I’d say not participate in hookup culture. Just make it clear that we’re going to see how this relationship goes, we’re going to take it slow, we’re going to get to know each other, and hopefully get to be friends. and we’re going to spend time together, and it’s not going to be sexual. I think I would advise against, and you may or may not be familiar with it, but the purity culture idea of not having any physical contact and all that. I would advise against that. I advise kissing, I advise those types of things, certainly romance. I would advocate strongly for romance, and giving it time and seeing if the bonding takes place. You mentioned oxytocin, huge bonding chemical for the women. Vasopressin, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that one, but it’s a huge bonding chemical for the guys. It takes time for the vasopressin bond to be created. Generally, it doesn’t do well in a sexually active situation; the vasopressin bond doesn’t do well there. It’s more of, we’re going to reserve this for the future, this actual sex to orgasm type of a thing. 

So if that makes sense, I advise kind of middle of the road as far as romance goes, but avoiding orgasmic sex, and particularly to the male. Because again, it has a vasopressin interfering function to it. When he does bond though, when he finally does bond, then it lowers his testosterone enough to where his oxytocin comes into play as well. So there’s a secondary bonding with his oxytocin to her, and of course, her dopamine and oxytocin has already probably bonded to him. 


“So long story short, what I’m advising, and again, I know this is controversial these days, but I’m advising taking a look at the traditional courtship, traditional engagement, traditional marriage.”

Then again, hopefully, those bonding mechanisms and the attachment that you mentioned earlier, will have had the time to solidify itself and set up, and they’ll get to know each other well enough to where they can trust each other. Because that’s really needed in a marriage relationship, you’ve got to have that trust. 

The other thing is, with women, I’ll throw just a physiological element. If I have them in the class, I’ll talk to them about this type of thing, but generally I don’t. Well, yes, I do. I do in the presentation I make too. 

Most women, not all, but most women need to feel and have such a trust relationship with the man they’re with, where they can relax enough to where their autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic part of their autonomic nervous system can kick in, and they can relax enough to where they can reach orgasm. Because generally, it’s tough to reach orgasm for a woman if they’re thinking about something else, or if they don’t really have a strong trust in the guy. In a lot of cases, I think how they feel towards a guy, how much they love the guy really enters into it, a lot more than it does with males. Again, this is something you probably know, but each woman is innervated differently in their pelvis. You look at the different parts: the clitoris, the vagina, vulva, the perineum, the anus. Different women, if you look at a scan of them, they’re like a thumbprint; they’re all individual. You look at a guy and his pelvis, and they’re pretty much all the same way. It’s all innervated the same way, so you get the same response basically, readily the same response. 

So the bottom line on that is, if a man and a woman don’t know each other very well, if the man doesn’t know the woman very well, let’s put it that way, and again, if there isn’t a trust there where she can relax, then it’s going to be difficult for him to know what it is that really turns her on, so to speak, what really helps her to get to the orgasmic state. So again, from a really practical and physiological level, a woman participating in hookup culture, there’s really, really not much of any reward for at least most of them. In most cases, what I found was they’re doing it to just be able to go along with what they think the crowd is doing. So they feel the pressure and the peer pressure. The guys, you said it earlier, guys feel pressure to take part in it from their angle, because they’re not thought to be macho or studs or whatever if they don’t. 


“There’s a lot of what they call pluralistic ignorance. That’s a scientific term of everybody thinking that everybody else is doing it. Most people think everybody else is doing it, and really, it’s actually a small percentage that are actually doing it.”

On a college campus, 50% of the sexual encounters are being had by the top 10% of the guys and the top 10% of the women. So there’s a lot less sex spread out over the whole rest of the population. But anyway, I’ll stop, because I know we’re getting close on time. Do you have any other thoughts or questions? 

Well, one other question is, when someone is listening to the traditional value or traditional approach, I imagine there’s ways to modernize this. This doesn’t have to look like how it used to look 20, 30, 40 years ago, 50 years ago, 60 years ago. It can look more modernized. I wonder if communication and having real clear dialogue around what one is interested in. I mean, to be able to have, like you talked about emotional maturity, I’m imagining there’s ways to modernize this. Is there anything you want to say about that?

I agree with you on that, and I’m really seeking ways to do that right now. But I think just the physical elements of it have to remain the same. But it can’t be an actual physical hookup situation and sex to orgasm, like it is now, first date, second date, third date, whatever, or even the first or second time you’ve been together. So long as you keep those physical parameters, I think that modernizing it in the way that you’re imagining could be a very positive way to do it. Because I don’t think it really matters as long. As long as you have two sexually attracted individuals, and they’re around each other to some degree, and there’s going to be a certain amount of it that you can get vicariously over the internet. But yeah, I think there’s all different kinds of ways that you can do. It doesn’t have to be the pick them up in the car and take them to the dance and that type of thing. But it’s just the physical kind of boundaries, I guess, keeping the boundaries of the relationship, until the bond has cemented itself.

Thank you for commenting on that. I would even add too, not only modernizing it, but also making it really an individual expression. There’s a lot of room and range for how this can be expressed. So wonderful. 

Okay, so Dr. Joe Malone, do you want to talk about your book and anything you want to direct people towards, as we’re winding down here?

Well, thank you, Dr. Jessica. Maybe it’ll be better over here, there’s the book. Again, it’s primarily written for college students, and especially college women. But I think it applies to most people. We were talking I think before we started, Jessica, about marriages and people that are older and not in college anymore, but still in this relationship navigation arena. I’ve had one of my neighbors that I gave a book to. She’s in her 70s, and she yelled at me. We were both out for walks, but she was on the other end of the block. She held the book and she goes, I sure wish I would have had this when I was back in high school! So I think it speaks pretty much up and down the ages. So long as you’re probably puberty forward, it’ll speak to you.

Right. And will you read the title for people who are just listening?

It’s called Battles of the Sexes, and it’s referring to the fact that there is somewhat of a battle of the sexes going on these days, as I described, the misunderstandings. But really, both sexes are battling. 


“Both sexes have a battle that they’re fighting, and in a lot of cases, because they don’t understand themselves, let alone sexually. They don’t understand themselves sexually, and they don’t understand the other sex. Then again, it gets way more complicated beyond that when you go beyond heterosexuality.”

But yeah, I think that a lot of good can be done just by knowing the science. That was my premise in writing the book was, try to put the science in front of these young people, and especially the young women. Because I think that they end up, in a lot of cases, victimized by sexual situations. And let them understand what’s going on with themselves and the men, and then they’ll have a better chance to navigate things more successfully. 

Wonderful. Was there anything else you want to invite people into or direct people towards? It sounds like the book is the primary source of having access to what you’ve written and the research and really support around how to navigate hookup culture.

Yes, the book is definitely a good tool, I think. But there’s a couple other places I would invite them to. My personal website,, that’s a good place. Because I blog there, display different places I’ve been speaking and that type of thing. Then also, we have a website called The whole idea that we’re just saying is trying to raise, especially young people’s, but really everybody can use this I think; everybody that’s heterosexual can use it. Because it all pretty much works the same for all of us as far as what we’re equipped with. The interesting thing, though, is that we’re not all absolutely, the way I would describe the way a male thinks versus a female thinks. So there’s some play there, so to speak. But for the most part, on the population average, you’ll have your high percentages that will react the way that I would describe from the science. So I think it can be helpful. I’ll say this, it’s been helpful to me. I’ve had struggled in this area myself, and my own journey has been helped by the knowledge that I gained.

Well, Dr. Joe Malone, thank you for what you’re doing. Thank you for what you’ve shared. I’ll make sure to put all of the links on today’s show notes. Really appreciate your time and giving so much here today.

Thank you, Dr. Jessica. I appreciate you.

Signing Off

If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. 

Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. 

Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here

Thank you!  

*With Amazon Affiliate Links, I may earn a few cents from Amazon, if you purchase the book from this link.

Please leave a Comment

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication.

Stop the criticism loop, learn new ways to communicate
and strengthen the connection with your partner.


Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching