DISCLAIMER: This article is an opinion editorial piece based on the author’s experience and opinions. This article does contain 21st-century slang and profanity language to fit the context.
As I navigate my way into my second year at college and slowly reach my 20’s, It becomes more crucial for me to start exploring different areas of my life. That includes addressing my new insecurities, faults, preference, dating life… Part of finding out your identity is paving way for understanding and opportunities in the areas that we may not be familiar with– it requires having an open mind to accepting change, and change is scary.
The topic of relationships has always been one that has made me slightly uncomfortable. You can know what you want, know what’s needed to have a healthy relationship, and even have a few experiences, but really understanding the bad and good of different kinds of relationships can be difficult to do. There are factors outside of what we can process and see as “good morals” in relationships that make stereotypical “bad” relationships more negative.
While it has always been a thing for different people of different ages to try, hookups have been a strong relationship preference today. Friends with benefits, sneaky links, f**k buddies, one-night stands, boyfriend and girlfriend without the label–whatever term you give it still comes down to one definition of hookup culture.
HOOKING UP? GROSS!
It has become a concept that there are certain things in life that are relatively normal but considered disturbing, gross, or morally wrong; Hookup culture is nothing shy of the concept. Part of the belief that relationships should only be between two individuals who are committed to being in love with each other (the boyfriend and girlfriend standard) also entitles religious values of no sex before marriage: this portrays hooking up and one-night stands as an “evil” outlook.
As time goes on, what is seen as not socially acceptable is seen more as rebellious in nature, which encourages people to participate in rebellious acts. There are certain things that are not as scandalous that fall into the rebellious category such as skating, getting piercings and tattoos, partying and going to bars, and much more.
If any of these things are normal things to do today, what does hooking up have anything to do with it? Part of participating in things that are known to ‘rebel’ against what society expects us to follow can be thrilling.
The Psychology and Why
According to Psychology Today on the fundamentals of sex, modern hooking up wasn’t popularized in sexual relationships until the 1990s and is now considered a more normal ‘traditional’ route to follow over the boyfriend-and-girlfriend standard of dating. Based on a survey done for this research at Syracuse University, “While more young men than women revel in casual sex, men are not the only young adults interested in what my generation called one-night stands.”
With a higher rate of people willingly wanting to participate in hookups (excluding intercourse caused by being forced, obligated, or done due to being drunk), choosing to highlight hookup culture is a way to explore sexual adulthood. Choosing to hook up with people rather than stick with getting to know someone and date them shouldn’t have to be seen as “evil” or even rebellious.
Not everyone is ready to jump into a relationship that comes with its own set of “rules” involving commitment–choosing to do something more casual with no strings attached can be a flexible way to still understand one’s sexuality, preference, and orientation without having to feel pressured to be committed to a person.
In a generation that is more self-aware of psychological aspects from trauma being passed down from family members, young adults and teens are more cautious about committing to serious relationships and making connections. Friends with benefits and one-night stands may be seen as more convenient to still have sexual relationships when one may not be ready for a relationship.
Although choosing to have a more simple relationship should be more normalized and not seen as corrupting, there are common problems that follow along. Wanting to get as much of the college experience to me means doing things out of my element; more many, however, doing something because everyone is interested in it could be disguised as just wanting to do new things.
It’s crucial to know when to not romanticize anything in hookup culture; it can be more damaging than entertaining and fun. Many college students have shared their experiences over the summer of 2021 with failed talking stages, and sneaky links (the modern preferred term) gone wrong.
KNOW THE RED FLAGS
People who rather stay as links than date someone they express interest in are more likely to have bad intentions that lead to heartbreak. Many people who rather have the same consistent partner to hook up with often express having more than a casual interest in the person they are involved with, but rather use the ideology of hooking up to suppress their emotions.
How people decide to cope with their struggles and feelings is on them, but know your own limits and intentions. If you’re more than interested in the person who wants to casually hook up, settling to be just a sneaky link may not be a good idea. If someone states that they’re not ready for a relationship, don’t expect a casual hookup to turn into a loving relationship.
Love bombing is never pretty in a relationship, and it’s just as bad to see in other forms of relationships. Love bombing is very similar to spreading honey over something sour–it’s a temporary fix to cover the taste, but it doesn’t stay on forever. When someone feels the need to gas you up and shower you in compliments- and no, this doesn’t mean just flirting- the relationship goes beyond sexual interest.
Love bombing is a form of manipulation to reel someone’s interest and attention into them, and once that person knows they have more than just your interest in hooking up in, they go from being your f**k buddy to f**king you over. Setting the title of just friends with benefits, sneaky links, f**k buddies, all need to have its set of rules agreed between all individuals involved and lines shouldn’t be crossed. If you’re not in a relationship with them, don’t let them treat you like you are in one, and don’t give them relationship treatment.
HOW TO OVERCOME
The most logical and important thing to do when agreeing to hook up with someone is to know their intention from the get-go. Make sure that you and the other person are on the same page. Is it a one-time thing? Is it two friends doing romantic things such as having intimacy but no sexual activities or romantic feelings? Are you going to be exclusive to each other or are you open to hooking up with other people?
Once you’ve found someone who wants the same thing that you do, you’re more than likely to avoid any consequences that can result in heartbreak and hurt feelings. The next goal (and priority to do with everyone who comes into your life no matter the level of friendship or relationship you have) is to set boundaries. Is your agreement private? What methods of protection will you both agree to use and have if any? Does your relationship go outside of the bedroom (such as light flirting when hanging out with friends)?
The last piece of advice is to always make sure you are safe. Being sexually involved with people means the risk of spreading diseases is high. Assure that your partner(s) is tested and constantly be getting tested yourself. It’s also important to make sure that a trusted friend knows your location if you agree to go to a stranger’s place or meet in a secondary spot. Staying safe goes beyond your physical health; don’t feel pressured to do anything even with someone you agree to be sexually active with if you’re not in the mood and always emphasize consent.
KISS AND TELL
Hookup culture may be popularized and can appear to be fun, interesting, and common for people your age to try. Having different kinds of relationships in the sexual aspect can be tricky and is more complex than movies make it seem–it’s often more glamorized than the reality of how it works.
Everyone’s needs, intentions, and experiences will always be different; always be open-minded to what you can try and experience with and seek out advice or guidance from others who have expertise in that area. If it’s not for you, then it’s not for you. If it is, then do kiss and tell your tips and trick to having a healthy hookup to help build a safer hookup culture for those new to it.