Whether you think it’s gross or awesome says a lot about who you are.
Every group of friends has that couple—you know, the one that just ends up making out in the corner of the party and not talking to anyone.
You probably roll your eyes and shit-talk them a little. Like, if they’re so intent on getting it on, there’s a Holiday Inn in basically every town. Get a room.
But have you ever considered that people who make out in public might actually be the opposite of confident? There’s research that says happy couples post less about their relationships on social media, which makes sense. It does feel like those lovey-dovey couples getting handsy in the park are doing it just to prove a point.
And now, a study published in The Journal of Sex Research suggests many who engage in public makeouts do so to show off to people around them.
The study surveyed men and women ages 17–35 (the average participant age was 18) to investigate the motivations and outcomes behind making out with someone and wanting others to see it. Though 96% of participants were straight, researchers also examined “same-sex performative experiences.” They found 37% of men and 32% of women engaged in public making out at some point during their pre-college years.
Obviously, if you see your ex at a party, you might feel the urge to grab a stranger and make out with them right in your ex’s line of vision. But what exactly are the motivations behind these public makeout seshes?
Both men and women told researchers they did it to enhance their images amongst their peers. Other reported motivators including “causing jealousy or envy, demonstrating a relationship, sexually arousing men, and participating in fun and games.”
While both men and women had the same reasons for making out in a non-private place, they had wildly different feelings about it. Most men felt it enhanced their reputations. Thirty-eight percent of male participants wanted to gain respect and “credit” from their peers, with some saying it helped make them “look like a player.” Some also explained they used the experience to connect with friends; you know, bro-code and frat-boy stuff.
Twenty-seven percent of women reported playing public tonsil hockey because they wanted respect from their peers. However, women also reported wanting to create jealousy among other women and exes, making themselves appear more desirable. When the study examined same-sex public makeout sessions, participants’ primary motivation was the desire to arouse men.
Women were concerned their behavior made them “look like a slut,” whereas men felt it enhanced their reputations. Of course, we’re all too familiar with this sickening double standard, a contributing cause of the rape culture we need to work to dismantle today. For God’s sake, it’s 2016 — if a woman wants to make out with a rando on a sweaty dance floor, then dammit, let her live her life.