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Still, the back cover of "The Hook-up Handbook" makes a stab at it: a hookup is "anything from making out to doing the nasty, generally with no commitment or plans for said commitment." But as Ms. Rozler explain it, a hookup has less to do with what happens between people than with the surrounding circumstances: specifically, that the meeting is unplanned and even unexpected. "Late-night grinding on the dance floor, maybe a little groping" was one version, said Kate Kilgore, who is in public relations at Victoria's Secret Beauty.The few men who spoke up seemed to find the elastic nature of the term somewhat tiresome.Few women would want to go over 20, or even 15, Ms.Babbit said, because they would "think of themselves as big sluts.""Ten at the most," Caroline Homlish, 24, summarized in a tone that brooked no dissent."A lot of girls are not having casual sex," explained Ms.They are not waiting on Friday night hoping "he" will call. Not Exactly."It's not that people aren't dating," explained Ms.Rozler, an editorial assistant at Allworth Press when she is not practicing nightclub anthropology. People still want to be in relationships, but they don't want to be settling."But even as they raise pink drinks in the air and roll their eyes at the absurdity of commitment, these are not women embracing sexual abandon."But the second 'he' comes along," she said knowingly, "it's done."And while "The Hookup Handbook" explicitly forbids its readers to mistake a hookup for a potential boyfriend, not everyone thought that was realistic."People who are hooking up are trying to get into a serious relationship," insisted Caitlin Gaffey, 24, a beauty assistant at the magazine Shop Etc.
So among this group of women with three-inch heels tipping out of their 0 jeans what is the right number, that is, the last number before you hit the wrong one?If a girl is dating three guys at the same time, she's looked down upon."Dig deeper and it turns out that most of the hookup aficionados assembled that night do not see hooking up as a seemly way to approach their 30's.While most women agreed that serious dating is being delayed at least a bit these days, they also said they don't plan on living a "Sex and the City" life when they are anywhere near as old as the women on that series. Whiffen said she has seen many examples of women who insist they are going to keep hooking up with no thought of having a serious boyfriend until they are at least 25."You have to learn a lot about him before you hook up. "There are just too many things going on."For Helen Gurley Brown, for 31 years the editor of Cosmopolitan and the author of perhaps the original dating manual, "Sex and the Single Girl," which was published in 1962, the lives and concerns of Ms.
Lavinthal and her friends show that not much has changed in 30 years, except perhaps the verbs."I think it was sort of established in 1962 that you didn't have to be married to have a good life," she said.The courtship rites of this generation of urban singles seem to borrow from the mores of their grandmothers in the 1950's (date lots of boys; smooch, spoon, nuzzle or neck to your heart's content, but hold out for that pledge pin from Mr.Right) as much as from those of their mothers' love-the-one-you're-with 70's."Most girls don't have one-night stands," Ms. "They might have one or two in their life."Take the number discussion, for example.Lavinthal, an editor at Cosmopolitan, even as she conceded that the title of her book had racy overtones.