College Hook-Up Culture Here to Stay Until Students Recognize Their Value

Young adults today are arguably far more socially and sexually advanced than young adults of past generations. I say this mainly because I am currently a college student who witnesses such a claim first hand. I've seen girls receive drunken booty call texts at 1am (and in fact end up going to his place), I've seen guys drink until they do not remember their risque doings the night before, and other individuals making out with every person they pass by at a club. 

In her book titled The End of Sex, author Donna Freitas calls these unfortunate truths dominating the lives of college students as a “hook up culture.” Many spend hours “agonizing over their hopes for Friday night” and “dissect the evenings’ successes or failures” that Saturday morning. Messages from the media as well as influence of peers is what drives this pressure to “hook up” and, as Freitas uncovers, college students are deeply unhappy with this in the longterm. Sure, it might make for momentary happiness and distract them from the fact that they are single. Yet it should make them realize that perhaps their participation and thus reinforcement of this “social contract” of the meaningless hook up culture is the reason for their longer-term unhappiness. Sexuality is increasingly associated with boredom and ambivalence, but it is still practiced as a part of college. So, if we are dwelling in this “unavoidable” hook up culture, what does that meaning for individual dating lives and future relationships?

I’d like to discuss first what even constitutes a date these days. While I've had boyfriends in the past, I think I went on one sit-down dinner date in high school with a significant other (at our local diner), and have gotten drinks with maybe one guy so far in college. I’m not disclosing this information with the world that I don’t get asked out, or that I am anti-social, or that I am even a loser. Quite the contrary. Instead, dating “norms” of the U.S. college culture regarding dating have emerged.

Alex Lewis of the New York Times argues that “instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, [young people] 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.”

In other words, the new date is simply receiving a text on a given weekend afternoon and ending up at the same venue to hang out, usually in a group until those group hang outs surpass perhaps five or six times. Better yet, if you are an immature frat guy or a girl with major commitment issues, that one-on-one time may not even come about. Lewis quoted a male friend of one of her interviewees as saying, “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing [or event I’m going to].”

All these facts simply reiterate the fact that “until college students realize that there are many avenues that lead to sex and long-term relationships, the vast majority will continue to miss out on the romance, intimacy, and satisfying sex they deserve.”

The solution to this challenge of lies in the hands of the students. Until they realize that they deserve more than an endless cycle of blurry one-night stands, this will be a reoccurring problem. If you are interested in hearing a more honest portrait of this issue in young adulthood, pick up a copy of The End of Sex by Donna Freitas.

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Katherine Costello

College student, DC dweller and avid writer

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