Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thoughts on the "Hookup Culture"

The New York Times recently published a story on the "hookup culture".  I figure I'd go ahead and lend a critical eye on the entire concept, being a guy who doesn't participate in such a culture, nor benefit from it in any way.

For those who don't know, the "hookup culture" is basically a type of relationship between people that revolves entirely (or almost entirely) around sex.  Sometimes an ongoing relationship like a friends with benefits thing, sometimes a one night stand, and sometimes sex that one party or the other hopes is actually indicative of something more.

I've always been a relationship minded guy.  The idea of sleeping with someone I wouldn't otherwise want to be around never appealed to me.  I also grew up with the understanding that the best time to look for relationships was in college.  It was in college that women appreciated men who were smart and had a good future in front of them.  Plus, you were likely to meet women who had a good deal in common with you.  Unlike high school where everyone (men and women) were largely immature, short sighted, and had no idea what they really wanted in life.  All good points I think, I can't imagine anyone thinking that any of those last points are off base.

I also come from a part of the country where people pretty much stay in the area even after graduating.  Very few people move far away.  That's probably because this is one of the few parts of the country that didn't completely die after the recession of 2008-09.  Consequently, dating in college is a lot less risky since you'll probably have no problem staying together after graduation.  This is most likely why I know quite a few people my age who are married (and contrary to the stereotype, are college educated and working professionals).

So all of that said, I have a hard time relating to people who feel like hooking up is a great alternative to messy breakups or broken hearts.  Or even a detriment to your career.  Because for the married women I know, it's not in any way a detriment.

Again, sample size and selectivity bias.

There are some things, attitudes I guess, that concern me about this whole concept though.  For one, the idea that someone could spend their 20s hooking up, and that willing, appealing partners will be around when you get to your 30s and want to "settle down".  It goes for both genders I guess, but the difference is that older men can fairly easily settle down with younger women, whereas that's not generally a trend you see with women.  Beyond that, it seems, kind of presumptuous.  What if the marriage minded men in their 30s don't want to marry women who spent their 20s hooking up?  What if those men are already married?  What if the women who spent their 20s hooking up end up getting to their 30s and all the men who are single are either divorcees or inexperienced guys (virgins perhaps?) like myself?

College is probably the only time in your life that you will be around other people of similar age, background and life goals for a prolonged period of time.  I know it might be hard trying to figure out what you want out of a relationship when you're 18 or 19, or even that the prospect of dating someone for 3 or 4 years and having to figure out how to coordinate your lives will be hard, but you know what?  Life's tough.  There's no guarantee that it's going to be any easier in 8-10 years.  And there's no guarantee that life is going to sit and wait for you to be ready.

I'm not trying to say whether you should or shouldn't go for hookups.  I'm a live and let live kind of guy.  If you want to hook up, go hook up.  But don't do it because you think relationships are too hard or you're just going to wait for them become easier.  Because they don't get easier.  They probably get harder.

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