What is a Booty Call? How it’s Defined in Science & Life

We’ve all heard of one, but do you know the answer to ‘what is a booty call?’ Is it plain old sex, or it is something a little deeper than that? 

what is a booty call

You would think that it’s funny that scientists would even ask the question, “what is a booty call”. Yet, it’s something that’s often explored. One of the biggest problems single people are facing today is finding someone who has the same goals as they do. And those goals usually include a long-term commitment.

If dating issues like a booty call aren’t clearly defined, it could confuse people. They might stat thinking that having occasional sex with someone can be passed off as a precursor for something more serious.

Thank goodness someone decided to create an official definition once and for all. Then, we can stop asking ourselves, “what is a booty call?” You can also stop wondering if he’s going to change his mind about his feelings for you if you give him the best sex of his life. [Read: 10 Casual relationship rules to just keep it casual]

What is a booty call?

A booty call is loosely defined as, “a person whom you call to have sex with occasionally.”

It can also be defined as a non-romantic and non-social relationship between two people who call each other randomly whenever they want to have sex. [Read: 16 hush-hush signs your friend wants to have sex with you]

It seems easy enough to identify, but unfortunately, the booty call is in the company of very similar forms of relationships. These include polyamory, friends-with-benefits, one-night stands, and even the very vaguely defined status, “dating.” It’s no wonder so many people become confused when booty calls appear on the dating scene.

Even when you’re in a long term relationship, you could still be subjected to occasional booty calls. It’s not surprising considering that sex is not essentially a marker for seriousness anymore. It’s technically a hobby for a lot of people, as odd as that may sound.[Read: How to make a sexy and successful booty call]

Why do we need a definition at all?

It’s not easy to wade through the billions of single people trying to find the perfect match. Of course, that includes someone who is open, honest, and has the same ideas about what a relationship should be like.

In order for people to do that, they need to know exactly what it is they are facing. The problem is that today, there are more than a few definitions of relationships, and it’s hard to gauge which one you are currently in. You might be pretty firm on what your idea of a relationship is. Yet, you could meet someone and really fall for them, only to find out that they have a totally different idea to you.

It used to be so easy back in the day. Then, finding a partner was systematic and culture-based. Today, people are less likely to follow tradition and are more likely to develop their own way of approaching relationships. This can often be based on their experience, media influence, and social interactions. [Read: The 23 types of relationships to define your love life]

Men and women are not likely to determine the fate of their relationships from the start. This can then lead to confusion and not really defining the relationship. Because of this, many of them ask themselves, ‘what is a booty call’, and is this what we’re doing? For some people, the booty call is easy to spot. But for others, it is not. [Read: Booty calls that may seem like true love]

Why not just call it when you see it?

That’s the thing. Since booty calls are part of sex in general, it’s difficult to see it as the only thing that defines a relationship. Some people may not see themselves as a booty call because they might have started out dating or they could be friends who hang out regularly. Even worse – they’re in denial.

The uncertainty is what makes it difficult for people to admit that they are just a booty call. People are reluctant to admit that they are in a temporary relationship because it cancels out their plans for the future. They might be hoping for more, or they might be waiting for something/someone else.

So you might think that we’re just throwing around theories and assumptions, yet you have to admit that there is a grain of truth to what we’re saying.

To confirm all of this, we need experts to use science and statistics to make it clearer. [Read: 17 sordid signs you’re just a booty call hookup and nothing more]

Booty calls and other types of relationships

Defining the booty call was a decision that scientists had to make, regardless of public and peer perception. Psychologists are actually happy that it was done, even if the sample size was only about 200 people.

The study was conducted by Dr. Peter Jonason, a psychologist from the University of Western Sydney in Australia. Their goal was to define different short-term relationships in order to find out why people might get involved with one type of relationship and not another.

The subjects were asked to rank booty calls, FWB’s *friends-with-benefits*, long-term relationships, and one-night stands depending on what their purpose is according to four functions. These were a trial run for a serious relationship, placeholder for boredom or until someone better comes along, sexual gratification, and social and emotional support. [Read: How to have a no-strings-attached relationship]

According to the study, these are the results and their function, ranked in order of relevance:

Booty call

1. Sexual gratification

2. Placeholder

3. Trial run

4. Social support [Read: 15 Signs he just wants sex and is only using you for his enjoyment]

Friends with benefits (FWB)

1. Sexual gratification and placeholder

2. Trial run

3. Social support [Read: Friends with Benefits rules to remember]

One night stands

1. Sexual gratification

2. Placeholder

3. Trial run [Read: Dating your one night stand – Easy or sleazy?]

4. Social support

Long-term relationships


1. Social support

2. Trial run or placeholder

3. Sexual gratification [Read: Are we dating? Read these 17 signs and ask no more]

Let’s analyze the results …

As you can see, we are coming closer to answering the question, “what is a booty call?” As the data suggests, casual relationships tend to prioritize sexual gratification above all others. Social support comes in at last place. The interesting part is that casual relationships can also be considered as placeholders.

This essentially means that the people who chose that option preferred to be engaged in that type of relationship while waiting for a serious relationship. This was rather than being alone while waiting for their future partner. [Read: How to have sex with your friend]

This study doesn’t offer that much insight into the difference between a booty call and a one-night stand. However, Dr. Jonason’s earlier research – another study about booty calls – clearly shows that booty calls were a mixture of sexual and emotional needs. They discovered this when they compared booty calls, one-night stands, and long-term relationships, according to the acts that couples performed.

People in long-term relationships were more likely to perform emotional acts like hand-holding and kissing, while it was less evident in booty calls and one-night stands. However, people in booty call relationships did perform emotional acts, whereas one-night stands hardly did any at all.

That’s probably why people in booty calls and FWB’s ranked ‘placeholder’ higher than some functions because they were more likely to continue the unconventional relationship with their partner. One-night stands were more likely to fizzle out after the first encounter, which meant there would be no time to develop any sort of emotional connection. [Read: How to get a f*ck buddy with the least effort]

So, to sum it all up

The research didn’t exactly answer the question, “what is a booty call” for us. Nor did it give an official scientific definition of the booty call. Yet, it did give us a better understanding of what is involved when you have sex with someone more than once. In the case of the booty call, it usually runs longer than a few months.

Because of the length of exposure to each other, couples in booty call relationships will most likely end up talking and spending a bit more time together than people having one-night stands. In that timeframe, especially with the help of social media, you get to learn more about the person. You exchange more than a few grunts, and maybe even end up hanging out in other locations outside of the bedroom. [Read: How to break up with a friend with benefits]

The thing that people in booty call relationships must remember is that social and emotional connections are last on the list of priorities. If you are harboring stronger feelings for your occasional partner, you have to remember that they may not be thinking along the same lines as you.

Avoiding heartache when you fall for your booty call partner

Even though some people consider a booty call as a placeholder or a trial run for a relationship, it does not mean that it will grow into that. Some people succeed at putting a ring on their booty call, but there’s no evidence to suggests it will happen to everybody. [Read: 8 subtle signs your fling is turning into a relationship]

For many people, when sex becomes a regular deal, feelings start to enter the situation. That’s not a good thing if only one of you is harboring feelings for the other. Some people go into a booty call situation and don’t have any intention of it becoming anything serious all. Many actually choose this type of situation because they don’t want a commitment. It’s a strings-free arrangement that is supposed to benefit both people mutually.

However, it’s not benefitting you if you’re crushing hard and even falling for your booty call partner. This is especially the case if they don’t see it as anything more than sex, even if it’s great sex. In the end, how can you be sure that you won’t end up crushed? What happens if they meet someone and fall in love with them? Then, your booty calls will stop and you’ll have to watch them start a real relationship with another person.

For that reason, if you start to have any feelings for someone you’re having regular booty calls with, you have to speak up. This will help you to find out if they feel the same. The other option is to cut them out of your life. For your own sake.

[Read: Dating material vs a Hookup – 12 ways to split them up]

Did answering the question, “what is a booty call” help you in your situation? Or do you think these scientists are in way over their heads? 

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Danielle Anne
Those who can’t do, teach. I can neither do nor teach as well as others, but I can try. Aside from being a writer, I am also a physical therapist. My dream is...
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