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Do We Live in a Hookup Culture?

Photo by Yogas Design on Unsplash

According to modern media outlets, we as members of Generation Y live in the “hookup culture,” but do we really? College Avenue reached out to CSU students to see what hookup culture means to them and if they personally partake in it.

We live in a pretty open community, so many people were willing to share their experiences with us, and we got a wide range of answers. We talked to everyone from self-proclaimed “Tinder Pros” to virgins saving themselves for Christ, and we learned a lot along the way.

Do we really live in a hookup culture? From our research, we would say no.

Sure, there are people who take part in dating apps like Tinder. These apps are built for bringing people together for whatever purpose they may have. Most people assume Tinder is for hooking up, but we found it is more of a mix.

How does Tinder work? Pictures of real people in your area pop of on your phone. You can either swipe right if you think the person is attractive or interesting or you can swipe left if you are not interested. If the same people you indicate you are interested in are also interested in you, then you are matched up and can start talking.

We asked Luke M. how he thinks Tinder is really used. Is it really just a dating app, or is it a way to link up with potential one-night stands? What does that say about our generation and our society?

“I personally use Tinder solely for hookups.” — Luke M., CSU student

“I personally use Tinder solely for hookups,” Luke said. “If there is nothing going on during a certain night, I will go on Tinder and see if there are any girls who want to ‘hang out.’ I’ve met a few people off Tinder and have simply hooked up with them and not talked to them again.

“Tinder shows that our culture can be relatively shallow, due to the fact that you are judging people simply on their looks. It is not like where people go in seek of a relationship, because, on Tinder, you only get matched with people whom you think are attractive and wish to seek some sort of physical relationship with.”

But is that all Tinder is? Sure, some people love that lifestyle, and more power to them. However, is that really all that Tinder is, a hookup site bred from the hookup culture?

“I haven’t really found people who just want to hook up on it,” our second source said, a freshman communications major who wishes to remain anonymous. “I think that’s what Tinder was originally for, but I think here and in my hometown it’s become more of a dating thing.

“I’ve actually found it to be more of a dating app. It’s not so much just hookup and it’s not so much this is just for relationships, either. But, I do know several people who have met their boyfriends and girlfriends through Tinder.

“I deleted [Tinder] three times, and when I reopened it I met my significant other, so I don’t think it’s about bad or good, it’s about the people you meet. If it helps you find someone you like who likes you, you should use it.”

To follow up, we asked our interviewee how she used Tinder herself, and her response was very different from Luke M.

“I actually recently deleted it, but I came from a different state and I just wanted to meet new people,” she said. “I think everyone wants to have a relationship and to meet new people, and so I was just going to see who I met and go from there.

“I definitely didn’t get it just for hooking up or to find a serious significant other, it was just to see. I’ve talked to quite a bit of people over texting and have actually met three people in person.”

“The last person I met I’m actually still talking to today. We’ve hung out a couple times and we hang out on the weekends, so it kind of turned into a relationship thing, so we’ll see where it goes.”

“I’ve talked to quite a bit of people over texting and have actually met three people in person.”— Anonymous CSU student

Through this interview and others, we found Tinder may not always be about hookups, although it can be if you really want it to be. Either way is fine, as long as you are comfortable.

That being said, does the fact that hookups and one-night stands exist mean we live in a world where hookups and fast-paced sexual relationships are the norm? Unsurprisingly, no. Out of the 10 people we talked to, only one participated in the practices of the “hookup culture.”

The other nine all advocated for personal choice, and all nine of them waited to have sexual contact, some still waiting for marriage but the majority either waited or are still waiting for the right person and a meaningful relationship.

“We both wanted to make sure it was with someone that we really cared about and really loved,” an anonymous undeclared sophomore said. “We were both on the same page about that. So, we decided to wait a year because we felt  like we had really connected on a different level than people that just meet randomly.”

We asked our final interviewee what she thought about the hookup culture. Did she ever feel pressured to participate?

“I feel like there was pressure for me to talk to boys even if I didn’t want to, and there is still pressure for my friends to go home with someone, even if they don’t want to,” she said.

“To me, our society has become very obsessed with sex, and it has turned it into something that it shouldn’t have become. I think it’s become a way for people to feel loved, but in reality, when you wait with someone that you really love, there is nothing like it.”

Our interviewee also thought that the negative impact of a random hookup far outweighed the brief immediate gratification.

“When you hook up with people, you feel love for a second, but it’s even worse than when you started,” she said. “When you wait and are in a relationship, and you both agree on this one thing that you’re going to do, it really is more powerful and feels more like love than hooking up with random people.

“Sex can be positive if it is someone that you care about, but it can be really negative, like a double-edged sword.

“It’s not like I shame the hookup culture because sometimes you have to travel around and meet and experience different people, but it shouldn’t be a sex thing.”

“Sex can be positive if it is someone that you care about, but it can be really negative, like a double-edged sword.”— Anonymous CSU student

We asked her if deciding to have sex had affected her relationship, and how she felt the expectation of sex affected other relationships.

“If you wait and have sex with someone you will care about, there won’t be that expectation,” she said. “It will really allow you to get to a deeper level of love and commitment.

“On the flip side, if you get in a relationship just because you start having sex, the expectation is that you will continue to have sex and it will be held at a higher standard.”

The interviewee believes that waiting improved her relationship with her significant other overall.

“Before we had sex, we loved each other and trusted each other, but after it happened, it’s way more than before,” she said. “Now we are like best friends who really trust and really believe in each other and support each other.

“I believe it happened because of waiting, and I don’t think it would have happened otherwise.”

We set out in this process expecting to delve into the rumored hookup culture, to see why it is such a craze and how students were participating, but we have walked away knowing that our idea of the hookup culture is all there is. It is an idea, more of a myth than a fact.

In fact, more people are waiting, maybe not saving themselves, but waiting for when they are ready to dive into a sexual relationship and waiting for the right person and the right time in their lives to begin.

The people who felt like they were the outliers are actually much closer to the norm than any of them thought. Healthy, communicative relationships are more popular than anyone would have guessed.

We do not  know about you, but that made us feel pretty good about our generation. The important thing is not about whether you wait or whether you like hookups, it is that you choose a lifestyle that you are comfortable with and that makes you happy.

The hookup culture may not be that big of a deal, but if you want to, you can, and if you do not, you are not alone, and that is pretty amazing.

This article was produced for College Avenue’s Love, Sex, and Relationships issue.

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