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From Drunken Makeouts To Sober Hangouts

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Miami (OH) chapter.


College dating is complicated. Some may even say it’s completely messed up. Acts of chivalry, like going on actual dates, has been on a steady decline in our millennial generation. The concept of casual “hooking-up” is the new black; ridding sex of any emotional attachment or vulnerabilities a relationship brings.

Kristen Mark, a sex and relationships researcher at the University of Kentucky told CNN.com in an article titled “Young adults and a hookup culture” by Ian Kerner, that college students use hooking-up as an alternative to dating.

“When we discuss the topic of casual sex and the hookup culture, they talk about it in the context of being too busy now to maintain a relationship or not wanting to make a relationship a priority at this stage in their life,” Mark said.

College students, particularly millennial college students, are undoubtedly busy. The pressure to find a job after receiving a degree is ingrained in collegiates within the first few months after initially setting foot on campus. Their lives are consumed of going to class, completing homework, and working to get a grade that will rise above the rest. But that’s simply not enough. Joining organizations that they intend to one-day lead and completing numerous internships are necessary expectations as well.

The “I don’t have time for a girlfriend or boyfriend” seems like a legit excuse then. But what’s more emotionally time consuming, relationships where one has the constant reassurance that they are wanted, or the casual hookup where communication is often absent, leaving one to binge on thoughts of who likes the other person more?

Between creating a career and wasting away time deciphering what the text “You going out?” really means, hooking-up fits seamlessly into this already overbooked schedule. It fits right next to the one thing college students are also known for – their constant desire for an alcoholic drink in hand, whether that be at noon, 6 p.m., or later. And with drinking often comes the casual, yet drunken hookup.

It is definitely a sad notion, but casual hookups occur almost always in a drunken state; the words casual and drunken before the term hookup are interchangeable. Hookups can be a one-time ordeal, or sometimes occur repeatedly between the same two people for months on end.

Then with the drunken hookup, comes the sober hangout. What has the world come to? College students having to allocate a time where they can remain sober and spend time with a person they’re interested in seeing seems crazy, but that’s what’s happening and becoming the norm.  

So is hanging out sober a date, or not? Does hanging out sober lead up to dating?

Olivia Chan, a junior at Miami University said, “I think a date is more like when a boy takes you out, takes you to dinner and pays for your meal. A sober hangout is like meeting up at King Library, doing homework, or having them come over to watch a movie. And if you’re consistently hooking-up with someone and they ask you to sober hangout, I think it’s looking up from there. I think that that’s on the way to something more serious than just hooking-up.”

Nick Maze and Connor McDonnell, both juniors, agree that if a guy asks a girl to hang out sober after casually hooking up for a while, he’s probably trying to date her.

“You’re dating!”, Nick said. “You are basically dating. If you are hanging out with a person sober, and you’re hooking up with them when you’re drunk, and you’re taking them out to dinner, you are dating. If a guy is not taking a girl out to dinner, he’s just being a d**k of a boyfriend because he’s just leaving out the good stuff that the girl wants…like going out to dinner.”

McDonnell joked, “God, if you ask a girl to sober hang out, you might as well get on one knee.”

Jamie Bean, also a junior at Miami, reflected on the consistent hook-up, and what college students (guys) are looking to get from it.

“I feel like normally if you hookup with a girl for a couple of months, and you haven’t sober-hung out yet, she’s probably just a hookup. And normally girls you like you don’t hookup with unless you plan on dating them, because you don’t want to mess up that relationship,” Bean said.

Well said Bean, well said.  

Funny how hanging out sober allows one to get to know another person’s actual personality, much easier than when both are under the influence of a RedBull and vodka.

Listening to college students explain the concepts of hooking-up and sober hanging-out can become exhausting. Why not get rid of the sober-hang out and just go on a date? It seems that almost everyone is trying to date someone in the long run anyways, but too scared to commit or admit that they have feelings for another person.

Alex Williams, a reporter for The New York Times, argued in his article titled “The End of Courtship?” that the millennial generation doesn’t know how to date.

Williams said, “Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.”

Donna Freitas, a professor at Boston University and author of “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy”, told Williams in his article that, “Many students today have never been on a traditional date.”

“Blame the much-documented rise of the “hookup culture” among young people, characterized by spontaneous, commitment-free (and often, alcohol-fueled) romantic flings,” Williams said.

One thing a college student can be sure of is that a sober-hangout is a step, or at least a good sign when looking for a relationship. Interweaving between the hookups, the sober-hangouts, the dates, and the sometimes-vague texts, this complicated web of college love can seem hopeless. But there are people in college who are in a committed relationship that give the rest of us hope. Eventually everyone will find someone to go “Facebook official” with. 

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Ellie Conley

Miami (OH)

Ellie Conley is a senior at Miami University. She is the current Editor-In-Chief and the former Publicity Coordinator for the Miami (OH) Chapter of Her Campus. 
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Alex McNulty

Miami (OH)