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"I know a lot of people who will go home with the same guy they have before just because it's not going to raise their number," explained Jennifer Babbit, 26, a publicist."A lot of my friends will say: ' I started having sex with this guy, but it only lasted a minute.

I don't know if it counted,"' offered Beth Whiffen, a former associate editor at Cosmopolitan.

The number in question is the total number of men that a woman has slept with, and the question is on their minds because they were among two dozen or so young Manhattanites who dropped by One Little West 12, a restaurant and club in the meatpacking district of Manhattan, on Tuesday to discuss "The Hookup Handbook: A Single Girl's Guide to Living It Up" by Andrea Lavinthal and Jessica Rozler, published last month (Simon Spotlight Entertainment). Rozler and their friends suggests that mating rituals of the much-celebrated hookup culture, at least as practiced by young professional women, seems to owe as much to Doris Day as to Samantha Jones.

The book's title and many of its guidelines ("Getting a room isn't just polite, it's a necessity") suggest that a new sexual revolution is afoot among a fast-and-loose generation nurtured on the wisdom of "Sex and the City," who see boyfriends as passé, dating as dated and the idea of commitment laughable. Yes, they take pride in having thrown off the shackles of earlier generations of single women. Spontaneity is crucial, but even more is a good clean exit strategy from any guy who turns out to be Mr.

"The result of this epiphany: You refuse to put yourself out there.

Instead, you just put out." As for the crowd assembled at One, where a party for Stolichnaya thundered in the background, the prospect of a serious relationship before the age of 25 seemed to hold all the appeal of a promotional party with a cash bar."It's not about courtship and the chase," Ms. "It's not that it's a free-for-all like the 60's, but it's about independent women staking their claim, making their mark and doing what they want."Ms. No one's going to say no to making out with a cute guy on a Saturday night."But while the language of the hook-up culture sounds debauched ("Drink Till He's Cute" is one chapter heading), most of the women who will plunk down .95 for the book are children of the 80's.

"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.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."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.

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