Re-defining College Hookup Culture and Dating: The Respectful Hookup Buddy

Time and time again I hear girls talking about how they feel they weren’t treated right by a guy or girl with whom they hooked up — how they felt used, or on the flip side, suffocated. Either a one-night stand left them feeling hurt and unwanted, or turned into a jealous mess of dating, overprotection and strict control. What if you could have a partner that treated you right, made you smile, laugh and feel like a person, not an object? What if you could have a partner without the strict confines and expectations of dating? What if you could have all that and still maintain a healthy, happy relationship with this person? This is what I call the respectful hookup buddy. 

The concept of a respectful hookup buddy re-defines college dating and hookup culture, allowing women to be liberated in their sexual and emotional needs and freed from the stigma surrounding these liberations. This type of relationship entails both people hooking up with each other in a way that makes each person feel safe, respected and appreciated, along with hanging out and spending time together without the labels and commitment that come with dating. This relationship is most often monogamous, where each person can feel sure about their sexual and emotional safety. Spending time together can mean having sleepovers, talking at night, watching movies, doing homework, or making breakfast in the morning. Like all kinds of relationships, not all respectful hookup buddies are the same. The beauty of this relationship is that you can make it what you and your partner both need and want sexually and emotionally. Maybe this means less hanging out and more hooking up to reduce emotional attachment or both partners disclosing more personal information to feel more comfortable with each other.    

In college, this type of relationship has many benefits. As boss women succeeding in our careers, academics and friendships, many of us don’t have time for all the dates, texting, promises, and emotional energy that a relationship entails. Being tied down is hard to promise when we’re at a stage in our lives with endless possibilities and opportunities. What if you spontaneously wanted to move abroad for a year? Or follow a career opportunity across the country, or just move home to figure your life out? Having another person to think about constantly when making every big decision in your life in some ways ties you down and closes you off to new life experiences. With a respectful hookup buddy, you can have the benefits of a relationship, while not letting it consume you. You can still have that crazy girls' night at your favorite club without missing date night or having to tell your partner where you are and who you’re with. You can hang out with your guy friends without the possible jealousy and awkwardness. You can even still be on the lookout for someone you would potentially want to date or to become your life partner without feeling guilty or tied down about new relationship possibilities. You are in power of your own life in terms of what you want, need and hope to accomplish.   

As many may think, the respectful hookup buddy is not easy to achieve. It takes time, knowing yourself, communication and effort on both sides to run smoothly, so no one gets hurt. Before even starting this type of relationship, make sure you sit down with yourself and understand what you might be getting into, along with how it could affect you. Know that it is your responsibility to protect your heart and that you shouldn’t settle for anything less than what you want and need. Even if you like what you and your partner have and want to avoid a bad ending, your emotional sanity should always be your priority.  

Over everything, communication is vital. When a hookup becomes more consistent and slowly monogamous, having a conversation with your partner on if they would be interested in this type of relationship brings things out in the open, so there are no false expectations or promises. Once you and your partner have established that this is the type of relationship you both want, the communication doesn't end there but must be consistent throughout every aspect and turn the relationship takes. As the conversation continues, try and find out what you and your partner want and need. If you are concerned about catching feelings, maybe set a day only once or twice a week that you’ll spend time together to keep the relationship casual and non-consuming. If you find that you both need more time together, slowly increase the time spent on the relationship. If one person is starting to feel used and emotionally unsatisfied, have a conversation about how this can be fixed, or if the relationship should be ended so unrealistic expectations don’t turn resentful. ​

The respectful hookup buddy is all about balance. You or your partner's definition of balance might change as the relationship continues, so make sure to be open with each other. This kind of relationship can also evolve, as it is generally more short-term. You might be respectful hookup buddies for a few weeks, a few months, or even a year. You and your partner may both catch feelings for each other, and it will turn into full-fledged dating. This form of relationship usually ends when one or both partners find someone else they want to date or hook-up with, or when each person's definition of balance is too different for the relationship to be healthy anymore. Although in some scenarios, one person might end up hurt, the blow will be a lot less devastating than a full-on breakup. Each party can leave the relationship to a life of their own away from the partner and have the opportunity to continue as friends if the breakup is respectful and communicated well.  ​

The respectful hookup buddy relationship is not for everyone, but if you feel that in every long-term relationship or one-night-stand you’re missing the mark, try it out! All it takes is starting a mature and respectful conversation with your partner. As liberated, independent women, we must allow ourselves to get what we want and need from a relationship, allowing a balance of life, hookups, and respect. This balance propagates success, freedom, and opportunities to thrive so that we can be boss women every day of the week with no one standing in our way.

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