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This mixed-methods analysis explores the characteristics of the "talking phase", a preliminary stage of courtship which we hypothesize is prevalent in hookup culture on college campuses. We are investigating this stage of dating culture and intimacy accumulation as influenced by the nuances of communication in the age of social media, possibly emerging as a response to novel difficulties that are inadequately addressed by the traditional dating model. Our study seeks to assign an operational definition to the term "just talking" based on analysis of open-ended responses from students at a mid-sized eastern university describing their understanding of this stage. The goal of this analysis is to ultimately guide our continued exploration of what necessitated this phenomenon, how the most essential aspects of this stage have been operationalized, and how this understanding and usage varies across cultural, sexual and gender demographics.



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