Before I delve into the complex topic of hooking up, let me start by saying I know I will get a lot of kick back on both sides of this issue; However, you can’t possibly talk about living single, without discussing the ‘hook up” culture. This article is intended for those that desire to have a relationship in their lives.
It is not intended for singles who are at a point in their lives where that have NO interest in finding someone romantically with whom they can share their life. If you just want to have fun without considering any costs at all, then this article probably wouldn’t be beneficial to you.
The article is written to provide information in hopefully a nonjudgmental way. I am certainly not a prude and have made my mistakes and missteps along the way. I have hopefully learned from my mistakes in an effort to grow and become a better version of myself.
I do think that it is important to know all angles of a situation when making decisions so that we can make better decisions for our lives. Whether you agree or disagree with the article, it’s all good. Either way, this article is written to spark discussion and most importantly to make you think about what you REALLY want.
For many singles, dating, courtship and just plain going steady is… So 1980’s. Long gone are the days where a gentleman shows his interest by awkwardly asking you to dinner or to a movie.
Long gone are the days when he brought you candy and roses and showered you with attention and affection, just to spend time with you. That’s all changed in the new dating world. It has apparently been replaced with requests to “ Neflick and Chill”, which is code for sex with no form of commitment.
So what is this concept of hooking up for casual sex. Where did it come from and how the heck did it get here. The concept is so pervasive and so mainstream now that movies have been made to normalize, glamorize and even celebrate this new wave of dating.
The idea of hook ups are made so appealing as to suggest that hookups can be both physically and emotionally satisfying . Some examples of such movies are “ Hooking Up” released in 2009 , “No String Attached” released in 2011, “ “Friends with Benefits” released in 2011, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. These movies are classified as romantic comedies, but in real life, these types of arrangements are anything but romantic . They are not meant to be and that is the point.
I am not advocating or condemning this practice, this article is simply to provide information, so that you are informed and can make up your own mind and decide what is best for you. As a single person, you will encounter many situations to navigate.
You will make decisions in your journey that are best for you. The issue of “hooking up” is only one of them. Three of the most glamorized benefits of hooking up are: getting your physical needs met without the “burden” of a relationship, having the freedom to date around and explore other options and not having to answer to another person.
Since Hollywood has done a blockbuster job of glamorizing these assumed benefits, I would like to explore some other things that may not be as evident Let’s explore all sides, Let’s begin the conversation!
So what is this thing called hook ups and how and when did this phenomenon take shape in society? The term hooking up, is actually hard to define, because it really depends upon the “agreement” that exists between the two people that are actually hooking up.
It can take the anywhere from one night stands to friends with benefits and possibly everything else in between. For some, the act of kissing may constitute hooking up. So it really does depend upon the parties involved, as to what makes up this arrangement.
Although, casual encounters are much more prevalent in our society, they clearly are nothing new. People have been having commitment-free sexual encounters for decades. Some say the hook up culture started to emerge in the 1920’s with the increase of automobile usage and movie theaters.
This new found freedom and accessibility allowed many young adults and teenagers alike, to date without chaperons and encouraged such behaviors. The culture further gained momentum in the 1960’s.
The feminist movement also gave rise to women promoting their sense of sexual expression and freedom. In 1960 the FDA approved the first birth control pill. With the invention of the birth control pill, more hook ups could take place without the worry of unplanned pregnancies; In addition, attitudes towards sexually in general, were also starting to change.
There was a shift in societal beliefs for many people. Many people were starting to reject the beliefs of their parents and those of the church; Furthermore, slowly accepting the concept of having more than one sexual partner in a lifetime.
From it’s beginning, the culture of “hooking up’ has grown and expanded. The most prevalent reasons are the accessibility of sex on television, the big screen, the internet, magazines and everywhere else in between.
You can’t escape the images and the messages. The images are vivid and message is clear, “Everybody’s doing it and so should you.” Whether you decide to or not is entirely up to you, of course. Just be informed and know what you’re are getting into and the emotional risks involved.
For all of it’s presumed benefits there are many down sides particularly for women that should be considered. These types of “arrangements” are almost always short lived as usually one of the two people involved will start to form an emotional attachment. Usually, BUT not always it is the woman who starts to have feelings for the other person.
Everything seems fun and fine in the beginning until one party starts to have feelings for the other and gets hurt. Some would argue that men are just better at detaching and compartmentalizing sexual encounters than women.
The jury is still out on that one, it seems.
It does seem though that most women are not as well suited for these types of arrangements, thanks to Biology. According to an article written in Psychology Today, women release Oxytocin during sexual activities.
There is also many who do not subscribe to this theory; However, you do not need science to know that most women do have a very nurturing bond and there is definitely a reason for it. When you educate yourself, it all really does make you wonder if there is any truth to it.
Oxytocin in a hormone that is released by the pituitary gland, which is a pea sized structure at the base of the brain. Oxytocin is called, at times, the bonding chemical and is also released during breastfeeding. It is this hormone that encourages to nurture and to bond.
If you are a woman and have ever breastfed you know the feeling. After, sexual relationships with another person, it is the reason that most women love to cuddle and want to be held after immediately after sex.
Women for the most part (though not all) are not designed to operate like men. Men also secrete oxytocin, but not to the extent that women do and most men do not have the NEED to immediately bond they way women do.
In addition, in order to maintain such an hook-up arrangement AND not get hurt, many would have to completely detach their emotions. They would literally have to close down everything except their body.
They would have to completely shut down all of their emotions and be devoid of any feelings at all, is this something that sounds appealing to you? If it’s not, what will you use to make that moree appealing, alcohol or some other substance that will temporarily numb your feelings?
Each time you have the hook up, alcohol or some other substance may need to used so that you can continue to do what may be very difficult for you to do. Will you still be okay with that?
I know I have heard the lines used many times before, that we have ” needs” and this type of arrangement is a way of getting those ” needs” met. Perhaps, for a temporary time, you are correct. The problem with that line of thinking is that people have many needs.
Your physical needs are only one of them. A person not only has the need for physical pleasure, but to be loved, respected and to be desired for who they are. During a hook up, the period of physical pleasure and feelings of desirability will only last during that time frame and maybe shortly afterwards.
When it’s over..It’s Over. You will still have to deal with your other needs that weren’t met. The need to be loved, respected and desired for ALL that you are.
The need to be loved, respected and desired can never be filled by satisfying only your physical pleasure. Without having those other needs met, it can sometimes still leave many with a sense of emptiness and loneliness.
If wanting a relationship is really what you want you can never satisfy this life long desire with a TEMPORARY experience.
In a published article in The Adult Span Journal, Author Leslie Kooyman, is quoted as saying, “Because of a women’s natural nature, they continually search for intimacy, and communication in a relationship, whether consciously or subconsciously
. Due to this need for a committed relationship, casual sexual encounters can have a negative effect on some women, leaving them with anxiety and lower self esteem. It creates a feeling as if the female is never really good enough.” If this applies to you, whether you are male or female, do you really want to risk feeing this way ?
Are those few minutes of pleasure worth dealing with the aftermath of feeling like you were not worth being ” chosen” ?
If you don’t want a relationship, then this information is not for you. Just be careful not to deceive yourself by saying you don’t want a relationship, and deep down inside you know you really do. That’s when things will get a little tricky.
If a loving relationship AND a great sexual relationship is what you desire, then wouldn’t you be better served to put the time and energy necessary in pursuit of that desire ?
The fact is, maintaining being devoid of feelings in a hook up will take up A LOT of emotional energy, whether you realize it or not. Each time you hook up with your “buddy”, you will be at risk for getting hurt. The more times you hook up with them, the risk will get greater.
The hook up culture by it’s very nature is designed to discourage feeling of any kind. If you desire a relationship, how does NOT practicing the skill of intimacy and being discourage to care for someone else help you gain the skills you will need for a loving relationship?
Trying not to get hurt, will take a lot of energy, pursing a real love interest will also take up a lot of emotional energy. Do you really have that much in your emotional bank to pursue both of them at the same time?
Are you willing to risk the negative effects that may take an emotional toll on you? In addition, what will your potential love, think of your side activities, if they ever found out?
Will they trust you completely, not to continue this lifestyle while you are seeing them when times get hard? Will they respect you? Do you care about having them respecting you? Will you respect yourself? Our actions, don’t occur in a vacuum, the things we do, have consequences.
Another effect that mostly affects women, is the double standard that is held against them. Women still can not expect to sexually behave as men do and not expect negative consequences to ensue. Although, it isn’t fair, it still exist. You can agree of disagree with it’s lack of equality, but it’s still a fact of the society we live.
For my beloved single men, I would venture to say that with repeated hook ups, there are some down sides for you. I would have to say that it would be difficult for men to gain the essential relationship skills it will require you to engage with someone they are with outside of the hookup.
The fact is men are wired differently and don’t have the same identical desires for attachment as women do, therefore the risk of emotional hurt may appear to less. Although, with repeated hook ups with the same person, I would have to guess that it would be just as difficult for men.. In order to be successful in relationships, you have to have had practice with being emotionally and intimately connected with another person.
If you are repeatedly hooking up, where are you learning the necessary skills to have a loving relationship. If you don’t ever want a relationship, problem solved. If you do want a successful intimate relationship one day, that will require actually getting the necessary practice of being in one. Just food for thought. ….
For a lot of men (though not all) , it is mostly about the business of getting a need meet, plain and simple. I have had so many guy friends and men I have interviewed, tell me that a man can sexually be with a woman and literally wash her off with his next shower and move on his next conquest.
This is not always the case, but many times it is. For the most part, the hook up culture appears on the surface to benefit men and not so much women. The odds are that men are more likely to get what they want, women are at a greater risk of not really getting what they REALLY want. Is that’s okay with you ?
If all of this is okay with you, then at least you know all of the things to consider. If the risks are to great for you, then you know exactly what you want and plan to put all of your love, energy and passion into finding it.
Make your decisions wisely, as if your happiness and emotional health depends upon it, because it does. Good Luck to all, in your exciting, complicated and complex single journey.
Should you hook up or not hook up? That remains the question.
Feel free to listen to my interview with Dr. Donna Frietas on the Hook Up Culture. Dr. Frietas is a Research Associate with The University of Notre Dame and is the Author of The End of Sex: How The Hook Up Culture Is Leaving A Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled and Confused About Intimacy. You may listen to our interview @ www.queenadventures.com/interviews
Feel free to chime in below on your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you have to say!