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The Art of Love & Intimacy: Thriving Outside the Confines of Hookup Culture

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

I spent all my teen years, and all of my 20’s so far, questioning my own values and beliefs when it came to intimacy, relationships and sex. Growing up, I was a late bloomer and was cripplingly embarrassed about the pace at which I chose to take things.

I didn’t have my first kiss until the 11th grade. When it happened, I was so sad because rather than the special moment I had always hoped for, it was in a drunken stupor at a house party, largely influenced by the voice in the back of my mind telling me to “just get it over with”. Fast forward almost 7 years and I still find myself watering down my principles so as not to miss out, be judged, or humiliated.

It’s important for me to preface that every single person is at a different place and that it’s okay for that place to shift over time. There’s no right or wrong answer, only the kind of life you wish to live.

So, from one lovergirl to another, let’s talk about navigating hookup culture, and the art of love and intimacy in a ‘swipe-right’ world.

Coming to university, I had an inkling about the type of environment I was entering in terms of casual sex. The majority of my friends spoke about their one-night stands, how they were so much fun, and how having no strings attached essentially kept them from having their hearts broken. For a long time, I wanted so badly to relate to those conversations—I still do sometimes—but I think that part of my growth was realizing there was often another side to those discussions. The side where they left feeling sexually unfulfilled, used, hurt, or wondering if they would ever get that, “Hey, I would love to see you again” text.

I think back to some of the encounters I’ve had, where it was clear that taking the time to get to know me was never ranked as a top priority. It almost always led to the part I hated most: having to explain why I didn’t want to have sex and subsequently feeling burdened by guilt. Even worse, there were times when they would say they completely understood or respected my decision, and then I would never hear from them again. I had felt so heartbroken, and so dumb for feeling so heartbroken. I would tear myself apart with gut-wrenching questions about if it was something I did, or if it was what I didn’t do. Those were the times I felt the most uninteresting. When I felt like I was good for one thing, and if I couldn’t provide that one thing, I became useless.

Sometimes I think love and romance are dead because we’ve let them die. There used to be formal break-ups, now there’s ghosting. There used to be flowers bought, now there’s stories liked. Love letters were written, and now your contact name in their phone is “Trin girl”. We are so worried about seeming clingy or desperate that instead of saying how we truly feel, or communicating what we really want, we stay quiet, drop hints, and hope that they’ll follow the script in our minds.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you if hookup culture doesn’t align with your values. In fact, so many of us grapple with embracing this viewpoint on relationships and intimacy. It took me a long time to understand that I didn’t need to change what I believed, and that it’s a valuable realization to understand casual hookups don’t resonate with you. When you recognize your desire for more meaningful connections, in comparison to a series of fleeting encounters, you gain the ability to seize the reins of your romantic and sexual life, pursuing connections that truly fulfill you.

Society loves to tell us two things, 1) Sex isn’t special anymore, but it is dirty and awesome, and 2) If you’re ever in love or catch real feelings, you should never say so. I couldn’t disagree more. A hot take? Perhaps, but I think sex is better with someone you love, for the same reason that everything is better with someone you love. For me, I think sex has the ability to be transcendental. You become emotionally intertwined with the person you’re sharing that love with. One way to describe it would be that it’s like you’re doing something with that person, rather than doing something to them.

Nobody ever wants to admit that they’re in need of far more than what they’ve been settling for. As a generation, we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that meaningless gestures like being texted before midnight are flattering. But I think that being vulnerable enough to admit how you feel, is incomparably braver than acting like you’re above love. I hope someone finds the same comfort in this, as I have.

So next time you meet someone on Hinge, who later kisses you, while explaining how as much as they really like you, they’re not interested in having a relationship, but they still think you should have sex because it’ll “be fun”, understand that you set the boundaries. And if that doesn’t align with their expectations, they aren’t the one. Sometimes you have to be brave enough to break your own heart.

Your existence isn’t meant to be solely for the consumption of others, and your being doesn’t rely on making someone else content by suppressing, concealing, or diminishing aspects of yourself.

And what a lovely thought it is that someone, somewhere, would feel lucky just to get a kiss, if anything at all, at the end of the night.

Logan Nikki

Queen's U '23

My name is Logan Nikki, I'm a graduate student with a degree in Sociology and a certificate in Media Studies. I'm passionate about music, literature, film, and art. Currently, in pursuit of wholeness rather than perfection.