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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Girls and Guys Answer: Is Hookup Culture Actually Fulfilling?

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

Given the fact that we live in a college environment, one can almost expect hookup culture to be a prevalent part of our weekend routine. With an abundance of opportunities to gain a new partner–whether that be through a party, Tinder, or a frat house–if you are looking for hookups, you can likely find one. But is hookup culture actually fulfilling? Or is it just used to fill a void that too many of us seem to have?

Although men and women are usually presumed to have polar opposite views of things pertaining to sex, the girls and guys of Cal Poly all seem to have really interesting views of hookup culture on campus. While women are typically viewed as the more “emotional” ones when the sexes are compared to each other, the girls I interviewed took more of an emotionless stance on hookup culture, while the guys admitted to craving something a little more in the long term.

“It really just depends on the person,” one girl—we can call her “Noelle”—said. “It can be fulfilling at times, like during the hookup itself. Unless it was a terrible hookup; like I almost gave up after my last bad one.”

Noelle further explained that the reason she engages in hookup culture is because she doesn’t want to deal with a relationship and prefers to be emotionally detached, so she feels hookup culture is just something she has to be a part of. Although not all hookups are guaranteed to be good, she still feels like she gets something out of them in the end.

Another girl I interviewed—we can call her “Bri”—claimed to be incredibly fulfilled by hookup culture, and actually really enjoyed it.

“I like male validation, but I don’t want a boyfriend, so hookup culture gets me that,” Bri said. “I just don’t get feelings for guys since I never end up talking to them again. If the hookup is good though then I’ll hit them up again.”

Bri even said that she usually has a 50/50 shot at the hookup being good, which is astronomically higher than the perceived success rate of hookups in the eyes of most women. Surprisingly enough, the young men of Cal Poly don’t feel entirely fulfilled by hookup culture. “Dylan” relayed to me that he purely sees it as being fulfilling in the short term.

“It’s just something you do on a one night thing, it’s not something you really want to do for the rest of your life,” he said. “People are horny so they engage in hookup culture to get their fix. I definitely wouldn’t say I’m a hookup culture person though.”

Dylan’s friend, “Dallas,” chimed in and admitted that he’d “like to be a hookup culture person, but [he] doesn’t have any game.” Both friends further explained that how they feel after a hookup depends on who they were hooking up with. 

“If it’s someone I’ve been going after for a while, then the hookup just feels good,” Dallas said. This only further feeds into the idea that young men of today live for the chase when it comes to girls and relationships.

One interviewee—let’s call him “Nolan”—acknowledged that his participation in hookup culture is not because he particularly enjoys it or even finds it fulfilling.

“I think I mostly do it because I’m self-conscious, so then when I do it with someone I don’t actually like, I just feel bad about it the next day,” Nolan said. “I feel almost disappointed in myself for letting it happen. I don’t find it fulfilling, but I would say it fulfills my ego maybe. Meanwhile, my morals and conscious are like ‘yeah, you probably didn’t need to do that.’”

His friend, “Ian,” explained that he himself doesn’t like hookup culture in the slightest, so he chooses to not really engage in it to begin with.

“I cannot do something with someone without having an actual emotional attachment,” Ian said. “I don’t like hooking up with someone and not knowing if I can do anything with that person in the future. And not anything related to hookups, but just having a friendship and connection with that person. I just wouldn’t consider myself a hookup culture person.”

Now this begs the question: does hookup culture only work for individuals who identify as “hookup culture people?” Does that mean that if you consider yourself a relationship person, you’re most likely not going to get much out of hookup culture?

While trying new things and experiencing new people is essential to growing as a person, especially in college, hookup culture just might not be for everyone. Therefore, it really depends on the person when it comes to how fulfilling it may be.

Carisa Joyner

Cal Poly '25

Carisa is a first year English major. She wrote for her high school's online newspaper, the Veritas Shield, about politics, relationships, campus news, etc and worked as the Social Media Editor her Senior year. In her free time, Carisa enjoys going on little adventures with her friends, and sharing photos from her life on VSCO.