Hooking Up: The Generational Change of Romance?     

       

By our first year of college, some of us have lived on our own, traveled abroad by ourselves, worked steady jobs, and accomplished major milestones all indicative of our transition into real adulthood. Yet, even after eighteen years of independent accomplishments, many of us have yet to go on a ‘real,’ old-fashioned date. Rather, we have opted for a style of ‘relationship’ that is far less formal, an approach to dating that warrants some eyebrow-raising and sighs from older generations: hooking-up.

So many of us became enamored from a young age with the idea of finding our own version of a prince. In a lot of ways, the media we consumed led us into this mode of thinking. For any young girl who was exposed to High School Musical in her awkward adolescent years, Troy and Gabriella represented the quintessential high school couple. 

 

 

Whether your childhood self pined after a love like Troy and Gabriella’s, Blair and Chuck’s, or Cinderella and Prince Charming, it’s imperative that we remember they are characters. Though the glitz and glamour that comes with the appearance of having a boyfriend can seem alluring, in making any decision about commitment, one shouldn’t overlook the effort it takes from both parties to maintain a serious, emotionally-taxing relationship. 

 

    And if you’re not ready to put in that effort right now, you’re in good company. Many, if not most, of today’s younger generations are involved with friend-with-benefits situations.

    

The basic appeal of this is that we want to experience the fun aspects of relationships without all of the frills and attachment of a formal relationship. And although not everyone may admit it: some just might just be wary of the emotional vulnerability that relationships entail. This feeling of being ‘emotionally guarded’ has interfered with our capacity to trust, making it easier to opt for hookups. 

 

But don’t get me wrong: increasing fluidity in relationships is not necessarily a reflection of a society that cares less about relationships, but instead, one that is trying to navigate the tech-based dating world in new ways. The emphasis on having someone is ever-present, the only thing that has changed is the way people choose to go about fulfilling that desire in the short-term. 

            

With the rise of Tinder, Bumble and numerous other hookup apps, it has become exceedingly easy to resort to our phones as the sole means of connecting with others romantically. But although efficient, does this phone-dependency have a detrimental impact on our psyche? Does it allow for greater connection and intimacy, or promote inauthenticity and shallow behavior? 

 

 

There’s no uniform answer, but what’s crucial is that we are using our technological resources to widen our horizons and meet new people rather than hide behind online personas in fear of true connection or emotional vulnerability.

Initiating a conversation face-to-face can be scary, but we’re doing ourselves a disservice if we only branch out online but never in the real world. Without risk, there is no opportunity for growth. 

Today there are innumerable opportunities for connection. Less than a decade ago the only avenue to ‘asking someone out’ required pressure, risk of public embarrassment, and a huge leap of faith.

But, today, just as easy as ordering Dominos someone can now reach into their pocket, pull out their phone, and find someone to hook-up within a matter of minutes.    

As the pioneers of social media-based relationships, maneuvering this new world can be difficult. We must learn for ourselves the hard truths about how social media can impact our relationships. For example: coming to terms with the fact that it’s really tough to gauge what someone is really like through an edited selfie of them or a picture of their latest vacation to the Bahamas. 

Social media profiles provide only a snippet into people’s lives because online personas only offer happy, fun pictures and fail to realistically depict multidimensional people.    

At its core, people have begun to invest less time in relationships, instead, they choose to allocate their time to achieve seemingly more important tasks like work.

The workaholic culture of many universities is consistent with that of the broader American culture. In American society, we see the amount of work and tasks we achieve on a given day as a direct reflection of how ‘successful’ we are.                    

The frills of traditional relationships - such as romantic dinners and elaborate dates- are now seen as frivolous and time-consuming. The choice to prioritize work over relationships has pushed people to choose casual hookups in the name of convenience.            

The desire to ‘try out’ new people is not a new phenomenon. But up until the last decade, dating and hooking up with multiple people has been heavily stigmatized. Unlike previous generations who were bound to traditional, sometimes confining relationships, today’s modern society allows individuals the freedom to define their own kinds of relationships. If people are willing to invest themselves, it is still possible to have traditional, monogamous relationships. But for those who don’t want to do that, that’s okay too. 

People often want to designate a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ label to hookup culture, but truly, the quality of any relationship is only defined by those who participate in them. Hookups may not have as many emotional dimensions as traditional relationships, but for those who don’t have the time or mental energy, they can be the perfect compromise.