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Hookup Culture: The Pros and Cons

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

Hookup Culture: The Pros and Cons

It’s no secret that what was once courtship, dating, and romance has evolved into a modern “hookup culture.”  People are looking less for a long-term relationship and more for a one-night stand or an FWB, aka Friends with Benefits.  And apps like Tinder have made it quick and easy to meet up with other people looking for the same thing. 

While this hookup culture has certainly received a lot of backlash, particularly from older generations accustomed to “going steady” with only one other person, it’s important to consider the advantages of this casual, no-strings-attached trend.  After all, there must be some positives if it’s become so popular, especially among twenty-somethings.  So, let’s take a look at good, the bad, and the questionable of this casual sex phenomenon. 

The Pros

1.Allowing for Sexual Experimentation

In the recent decade, more and more people have been experimenting with their sexuality, as society has become more accepting toward a spectrum of sexual orientations. Homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality are just of few of the identities that have become more visible, and hookup culture may be partially to thank for that.  In order to discover your sexuality, you have to experiment, often times with several people.  Hookup culture may allow people to experiment with different genders, or even just different preferences when it comes to sex, without the commitment to one person.


2.Testing out Different Kinds of Relationships

Just like how a more causal approach to dating can help someone sort out their sexual identity, it can also help people figure out what sort of relationship they are ultimately looking for.  When it’s socially acceptable to spend one night with a sexual partner, or meet up with them on a regular basis, it can be easier to see what sort of relationship works for you.  Maybe you prefer being independent, knowing you have the option of hooking up with someone once in a while? Maybe you prefer being with the same person consistently, or maybe you prefer sampling a pool of potential partners?  Whatever you find you need in a relationship, it can be easier to figure out once you’ve shopped around.


3.Less Stress than a Serious Relationship

Let’s face it, while we all romanticize having a serious, committed relationship, it’s often more complicated and stressful than we thought.  Being with one person in a long-term relationship requires effort from both partners and a willingness to resolve conflict when it inevitably arises.  Being young, that’s often unnecessary stress added to our already hectic lives.  Especially for college students balancing school, finances, friends, and other commitments, being in a long-term relationship can seem unmanageable.  However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be with anyone at all.  Casually hooking up with someone can be a happy medium when you’re still trying to figure out this whole “adulting” thing. 


4.Relationships Are Less Rigid

We’ve certainly come a long way from the rigid rules of dating that used to govern our social interactions, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Meeting someone can often times be more complicated when there are more expectations involved, which is where our modern hookup culture comes in to simplify things.  Now, meeting someone from Tinder can be as simple as a “Netflix and Chill” sesh, or just hanging out in a group at a bar.  Either way, when relationships become more causal, it can make it more fun, relaxed, and even easier to develop it into something more later on. 


The Cons:

1.Safety and Health

Casual sex, or even just random makeouts, come with certain health and safety concerns that are less prevalent in monogamous, long-term relationships.  STIs and certain illnesses like mono and meningitis become a cause for concern among people who’ve had multiple partners, especially if certain precautions aren’t taken.  The more relaxed the attitudes around sex and hooking up become, the more important it is to discuss birth control, condoms, and other contraceptives. 



While this may not be the case for everyone who partakes in hookup culture, there are times where casual sex can lead to negative feelings of self-worth.  Being in a relationship with someone, and being intimate with only this one person, usually makes sex feel safer and more meaningful.  On the other hand, having casual sex with multiple partners may lead to significant decrease in self-esteem when these no-strings-attached relationships end. Overall, it becomes important to make self-care a priority and assure yourself that you are having sex for the right reasons, with someone you trust to respect you in the long-run.


3.It’s Harder to Find a Traditional Relationship

When casual sex and friends-with-benefits-type relationships are so prevalent, it can seem impossible to find someone who is looking for a traditional, monogamous relationship.  This becomes a problem when a generation who grew up immersed in hookup culture eventually looks to settle down with one person, when it seems that the dating norms of the past are almost slowly being forgotten.  While dating has not completely vanished from our culture, it is becoming more and more rare among teens and twenty-somethings. 


4.Hookup Culture Can Be Confusing

“Are we dating?  Are we exclusive? Are we seeing other people?” These are all questions that have popped into the heads of anyone who’s casually hooked up with someone else.  It can be confusing to navigate this new causal relationship culture where, many times, relationships are completely undefined.  We’ve all seen someone get hurt when they realize the person they were sleeping with was actually never interested in anything other than the sex itself.  A lot of the time it can be difficult to define the contexts of these informal relationships. 



So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to the pros and cons of hookup culture.  Whether you’re “seeing someone,” have a “thing” with someone, or are completely new to this whole no-strings-attached thing, just remember to be cautious – but embrace being spontaneous.




Lexa is a junior at Boston University, studying Journalism in the College of Communication. You can often find her sipping on an iced coffee and trying to take an artsy photo that fits her Instagram aesthetic. Lexa hopes she can someday combine her passions for fashion, art, dance, and writing into a career, but for now, she'll be strolling down Comm Ave trying to make #LifeasLexa a personal brand.
Writers of the Boston University chapter of Her Campus.