The Psychology Behind Booty Calls, According To Science

It's a late Friday night (or a Tuesday, I don't know your life!) and you're watching some spooky Netflix niche crime documentary series or making small talk at a boring party that your friends dragged you to. As your scroll through Instagram endlessly and look at everyone else doing fun stuff, your mental train gets completely derailed by an incoming text. "U up?" sent at 12:03 a.m. A booty call? Yup. But are you into it? Completely. If late night hookups get you totally hot or you live for a last minute date, the psychology behind booty calls may be to blame.

According to evolutionary psychologists, although humans largely practice monogamy, there is no denying the natural attraction to shorter-term sexual relationships. While the term "evolutionary psychology" may sound super intense, it's basically the way the human brain has changed overtime, often due to social and societal factors like: emotions, communication, basic survival, and of course, reproduction, or less scientifically, doing the dirty. Studies about the evolutionary psychology behind human sexuality have found that traditional human reproductive patterns happen in a mixture of short-term and long-term sexual relationships. Of course, that's not to say that it's uncommon to have one partner forever or to never want to be in a monogamous relationship. Relationships take all forms, and if getting a late night invitation is your thing, there's some serious science to back it up.

Giphy

With her team, Australian psychologist Evita March (a power lady) was one of the first people to really study the psychology of the booty call. March suggests that long-term and short-term sexual relationships aren't really separate, and TBH, she's really onto something. If you've ever had a FWB situation, or a continuous hookup or booty call you like to keep around — your sexual relationship with your late night fling may swing between ongoing interactions without what the kids call "DTR" (or an established exclusive relationship). These relationships can be "long-term" in that they go on for more than one night, and can even come with some lots of emotional attachments, but generally without monogamy.

Booty calls can toe the line between short and long-term relationships and therefore are often filed away in a super special spot in your brain. They often have the sexual drive of a short-term relationship, and don't usually include museum trips or family parties (or really any hanging out outside of getting it on). But if you have a booty call you keep around, or if you know that you can keep going to your late night date for some, ahem, afternoon delight, you may start feeling more longer-term feelings about the situation — even if you're not trying to exclusively date them or hangout with them outside of having sex.

Giphy

In a study literally called, you guessed it, Netflix and Chill?, March surveyed over 500 participants (all in their 20s), discovered that over half the participants have been in a booty call situation before. Regarding the nature of the booty calls, the majority of participants reported "attractiveness" as a necessity, and concurrently more important that kindness and social status. And while this may solidify ideas about booty calls being purely physical, March also found some funky disparities about booty call interpretation between the men and the women surveyed. Although gender is a social construct, there were some serious trends in March's study, based on the participant's identity.

March found that for women only, "kindness" was also a necessity, next to just attractiveness. This idea supports March's notion that women are more likely to see booty calls as short-term relationships that have the potential to grow into longer term relationships, whereas the men reported to seeing booty calls as "a series on one-night stands," with little intention or possibility of anything more. March also found that the women reported their booty call boo eventually becoming a more serious partner, where the men states their booty calls stayed as booty calls. Of course, no matter your gender if your late night call in consensual, have at it! You know what you're doing and you know what makes you feel good.

When it comes to the scientific side of Netflix & Chill, there may be some interesting evolutionary psychology to blame. If you're totally into a late night call, your brain may file it in-between a long and short-term relationship, even if in practice there are no strings attached. And if you're totally into a last minute romp, a booty call may be the perfect way to end your night.