"Hookup Culture": I Cringe Just Typing This

Photo by Pixabay

Photo by Pixabay

"Hookups" are the way young people commonly describe relationships with each other. As quoted from this ABC News online report "Want To Have A Hookup? What Does It Mean?" "Hookups have replaced casual sex and even dating on many college campuses over the years, but as is so often the case when sex is discussed, it's not altogether clear what everybody is talking about when they say 'hookup.' One new study at a large university suggests that most young people are doing it, although not everyone agrees what 'it' is."

A researcher from this report sought to clarify the term: "Hooking up is used to describe a sexual encounter (vaginal, anal, or oral sex) between two people who are not in a dating or serious relationship and do not expect anything further," their study says. It adds that most students "describe hookups as spontaneous sexual encounters fueled by alcohol that usually unfold without communication about sexual health and consent or protection against sexually transmitted infections."

The University of Iowa concluded that the United States has seen a major shift toward nonromantic sexual partnerships, people becoming sexually involved when they are just casually dating or not dating at all."

Do you understand why I'm cringing????

There are scores of articles and information similar to this out there if you do a Google search on "hook ups" or even "why aren't young people dating anymore." It's all pretty similar over the last 10 years or so.

As you read further, you see that there is much talk between young people about "hookups" and even exaggerations about what they really are and what actually happens.

I'm relieved I guess a little bit to find out the researchers discovered that in many cases on college campuses hookups involved "kissing" and "fooling around" but not intercourse – and can still be termed a "hook up."

And here's the rub. If you use a term for getting together with someone but have no idea what "hooking up" will actually mean, how do you know what you're walking into?

The article further states, "None of this is likely to come as a shock to college students these days, although some parents will probably find it disturbing...there is serious concern over the connection between hookups and the spread of venereal disease, as well as 'non-consensual sex.' Make that date rape, just to clear up any possible ambiguity."

So this is my point exactly.

I'm not only worried about the mental health/self respect aspects of "hooking up" – for guys or girls – but what about safety?

Do college campuses – or we as parents – do enough to prepare our young people how to deal with this ambiguity? Do we help our young people decide what is truly right for them, or just let them go and "figure it out."

I've always contended – based on psychological data – that people value feeling important and cared about. A lot of research indicates that this basic human need - of being loved and accepted for who you are – is the secret to long life and excellent health. So basically, I'm saying that feeling value personally is an important human need, regardless of gender.

Dating to get to know someone means you take the time to do this the right way.

Yes, I am a traditionalist.

I am in favor of the guy asking the girl out in a respectful way, walking to the door to pick her up and take her back to the door at the end of the night – and of making a point of talking to parents politely. And treated her like a gentleman when they're out of our site.

Yes, our society needs to treat males and females equally – but in the end, I still think male chivalry is best.

It's not that the guy is saying "You aren't safe unless I'M here" or "you can't open a door for yourself." It's saying "I know you are capable of anything you want. But I respect you, and will act like a gentleman around you."

It is often a humbling and vulnerable experience to ask someone out on a date. It takes time to plan to go and do something. Because you're getting to know someone, the person asking has to put in some effort to make things nice and has thought about what their date might like to do.

Sending a text that says "Wanna hookup?" or just getting blasted drinking at a party and then hooking up – whatever that might mean – doesn't take integrity, imagination, kind thoughts or humility. And it's not selfless in any way.

And while I tend to want the boy to put himself out there first, a girl can certainly ask out a guy in a nice way, too. Because that is the basis for friendship and emotional intimacy, and these are the things that make people feel good about themselves.

I went to high school and college in the 1980s. I wouldn't call it an "innocent" time. People had "friends with benefits" and one-night stands – but when I was in college that was pretty uncommon. And I knew a lot of people at a good-size public university. Most of the people I knew did the dating thing. Not all the relationships lasted, but I know a few people celebrating 25-30 years of happy marriages following successful college relationships.

I'm being told young people think differently about each other these days – but should they? And are they really, truly different now than in previous generations? I don't think they are. People are people. Times change, but people don't.

I read another article that says that hookups "empower" young women – that they can demand sex as equally as men and have their own sexual needs met.

I suppose so that could be empowering. But not really – at least not in the long term.

Research I've read indicates that after any sexual encounter, people feel euphoric and good about themselves. In the case of a hookup, it's exciting to feel like there is a smorgasbord of attractive people to meet, get the attention of one of them and get caught up in the moment.

But when time passes after an encounter – maybe just a day or so - people often feel the opposite about themselves and have serious regrets – especially if they were hoping the encounter was going to become something more than just casual. This is true for women AND men.

Research also indicates the more hookups people have, the worse they feel about themselves instead of the other way around – despite how much bragging they might do about their conquests.

My eighteen-year-old daughter will leave for college in two weeks, and she has a lot of thinking to do about what she wants to surround herself with. I worry about her dealing with the pressure of "everyone" talking about being involved in the hook up culture.

She has dated some really nice boys. She has also spent the last few months on her own, which I think is good for learning self-reliance.

I have no issues with some casual dating - meaning actually going out on dates. I think she agrees,

While I think some people feel "complimented" about being asked to hook up, she seems not so thrilled.

A few months back she was working on homework and I saw that she was Snapchatting someone and I told her it was time to get to work, not Snapchat. She told me a boy from class had missed a few days and asked for her help to catch up. I did see her taking pictures of classroom notes and sending them – and then I saw her face change.

"What?" I asked.

"Nothing." She mumbled.

"What is it?" I asked again.

"I don't know. I was helping this guy and we started having a fun conversation on Snapchat about the music and shows we liked. Then all of a sudden he said 'I think you're hot. Wanna hookup?' I didn't really expect things to go that way. I thought he actually liked me."

So I'm thinking, whatever happened to "Hey are you free Friday? Want to get pizza?" and seeing where things go from there.

Why did this boy think it was OK to ask her to hook up over homework when he was just getting to know her? Why doesn't HE know better? Is it OK to say/text this to her because a guy thinks she's pretty? She is a pleasant-looking girl who likes to dress up some days but often wears yoga pants and her favorite college sweatshirt. She is friendly and likes to be social but she isn't wild or out of control. She said boys ask her this all the time over social media – seemingly out of the blue. I was really surprised. I guess I should know better.

I would be LIVID if I found out my son said/texted "Wanna hook up?" to a girl. I've made a point of telling him this repeatedly. He's only 15 and hasn't dated yet. He's entering his second year of high school so maybe things will change this year. He's a nice-looking kid and I'm well aware that girls also ask boys for hook-ups. Often with a nude picture of themselves. To my knowledge that hasn't happened to him yet, but I can't imagine it won't.

How is this OK?


I honestly don't think of myself as a prude. But I have lived long enough to know what experiences you want your kid to have, and which ones you don't.

I've also read that young adults are actually having about the same amount of casual sex as previous generations. It's not hard for me to believe – the 1970s were a wild time and clearly women had found a new voice and wanted equality with men in a lot of ways. Better birth control that was readily available obviously helped out the "sexual revolution."

I wonder if people who did whatever they wanted sexually then would do things differently if they could live it over again.

I'm sure some wouldn't.

But at a time when young people – especially young adults in college and high school – are dealing with anxiety and depression at record levels – maybe choosing to value a person for who they are instead of a body to get pleasure from would be a good start for developing a good sense of self and respect for others.

Or am I just a prude?

Subscribe by email here to make sure you don't miss a post. It's spam-free and you can opt out whenever you like.

Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Leave a comment