On any college campus, it’s a classic situation to casually hook up with a guy you may, or may not, know very well. What happens, though, when he becomes your go-to hookup? You’re not “together,” but no matter what other guys you talk to that night, you’ll always end up at his place. If this lasts for a few weeks, a month, or longer – are you unofficially dating?
Her Campus spoke with America’s Dating Doctor – the real life Hitch – David Coleman, along with college guys and girls about these long-term hookups to help us answer the question of: how casual is your long-term hookup?
*Most of the students in our survey chose to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.
It might be more serious than you thought if…
1. You’ve been hooking up for months (and months).
The first issue is deciding what qualifies as “long-term.” In our survey of forty-four college students from various schools across the country, fifty-four percent of respondents said that they consider a long-term hookup to be one lasting at least over one month. Eighty percent said sometime in the past they had been in, what they considered to be a long-term hookup. Another fifteen percent said they were currently in one.
Coleman says that the duration of a consistent hookup matters. “Once is an occurrence, twice is a repeat, three times is a pattern,” he says. “When you reach three times with the same person, you’re a couple.”
Sure, to those of us in college this might seem a little soon to be considering yourself a couple, but, after you’ve hooked up three times (without hooking up with anyone else between, of course), you’re probably more likely to call each other and make the hookups or hangouts even more common.
As Coleman says, “when a guy is hooking up repeatedly with the same girl, his friends will say ‘you’ve found a mattress partner,’ but when it continues for two months, three months, or longer, they’ll tell him, ‘I don’t care what you say, dude. That’s your girlfriend.’”
Once you get to hooking up with the same guy consistently for two or three months, or maybe even lasting an entire semester, you might start to feel as if you are actually in a relationship – you call each other at the end of the night to hang out (if you weren’t already hanging out earlier), and end up spending a significant amount of time together during the week.
“Most people don’t just hook up and then leave. You often hang out after, or outside of the hook up setting,” Coleman says. This, he adds, leads to “one or both of the people secretly falling for the other.”
One junior girl, who is currently in a 3-month-long hookup said she feels there are some mutual feelings of caring with her hookup guy. “It's still a ‘no strings attached’ thing, but we wouldn't still be hanging out if I was only seen as a booty call.” Some nights, she says, they hang out but don’t ‘hookup’. “It can definitely be harder on your feelings, but I feel like there's a little bit more caring [in a long-term hookup] than a one night stand offers.”
Another junior girl in our survey said her 3-month-long hookup was casual for the first couple months, but then became more serious. “Usually a long term hook-up results in a relationship,” she says. “Which I think is better than a one-night stand.”
One junior boy even noticed his feelings for his current hookup of one month. “We still aren't boyfriend and girlfriend, but we definitely feel like we have obligations to each other that are more than sexual,” he said.
Make sure that you’re both on the same page though. If one person in the hookup thinks of the situation as more couple-like than the other, this can lead to serious hurt on that person’s end. Jealousy then becomes a huge factor.
2. You get upset when he talks to other girls.
Eighty percent of students in our survey said they considered their long-term hookup to be causal, or no-strings-attached. Yet seventy-nine percent said they would still be upset if they found out their hookup had hooked up with someone else. Does this mean we think our hookups, no matter how casual, should be exclusive?
To Coleman, this is just another indicator that regardless of whether it’s official, you and your hookup may be a couple. “The minute you hit long-term, you’ve become a couple,” he says. “And if one or both of you don’t have the same thing in mind for your relationship, watch how quickly the jealousy can come out.”
An example Coleman gives is: imagine you’ve been hooking up with the same guy at least twice a week for three weeks or more. “If he calls you one day and says he’s moved on to someone else, how would you feel?” If the answer is terrible, upset, or frustrated, Coleman says this is because, although neither of you had discussed the situation, you may have felt like you two were a couple.
Ultimately, since these long-term hookups aren’t usually declared as exclusive, “jealousy always interferes when the other person finds someone else,” Coleman says. “If you’re jealous that he’s talking to another girl, or has pictures with another girl, you are, or want to be a couple.”
One junior guy at Syracuse University said that his hookup of one month was exclusive with no strings attached. But was he in a relationship? “It’s a grey area to say the least,” he says.
Pittsburgh University senior, Jordan, says, “If both people are clear that you are just hooking up then there is no reason to be upset if they hook up with someone else. However, if you have stated that it’s just hooking up, but you are doing so exclusively, then be as upset as you want!”
Although the amount of jealousy you have towards him to talking to other girls may not totally qualify as couple-status, it may indicate your feelings for him and that, perhaps, it is not quite as no-strings-attached as you had originally thought. Take note of how upset you get if, for example, he’s tagged in pictures with other girls. If you’re feeling that other girls should lay off your man, tread easily on the casualness of your hookup situation – you may be falling for him more than you realize.