Take Back the Hookup

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Lately, it seems like all anyone talks about when it comes to our sex lives is how terrible hooking up is. Our generation gets so much flac about how we fear intimacy, how our relationships with each other are meaningless, and how we’ve singlehandedly killed the traditional date. To the critics who say we mellenials are soulless, sex-craved fiends, I say, lighten up.

Hooking up with no intention of fulfilling a serious relationship is not a bad thing – or at least, it doesn’t have to be. “Hookup culture” is only a culture if we make it that way. It doesn’t have to be the defining characteristic of our generation’s approach to dating, but it can be a part of it.

Lily Goodspeed, a senior at Brown University, is a member of the Brown branch of FemSex, a workshop held at numerous universities throughout the country that, according to the FemSex Brown website, seeks to “de-stigmatize female sexuality.” Based on what she’s learned as a member of FemSex, Goodspeed believes that there are two essential components to a successful, consensual hookup: “Honesty, and that means honesty between people, but also honesty with yourself,” said Goodspeed. “And communication between the participants so that expectations are understood.”

Sometimes our problem is that we have a hard time separating the hookup from the committed relationship. Hooking up was once seen as a means to an end, as a way to test the waters for a potential future relationship. But these days, hooking up is more frequently perceived as a casual, recreational activity. Because it’s often unclear which category a hookup falls into, for those looking to settle down, hooking up can be a dangerous path.

But for those who aren’t interested in committing themselves to one person just yet, hooking up can be a healthy way to satisfy baser desires. It’s all the fun without the commitment, which, for a busy, sexually charged college student, may be the ideal option. “I honestly feel like whatever is best is what each individual wants,” said Goodspeed. And if what you want is not a relationship, but rather, a non-committal fling in the sack, then hooking up can be a good thing.

Goodspeed also makes a point about the standardization of relationships. “I think that all of these conversations forget that each relationship is two specific, individual people working out a specific relationship,” she said. “I can say ‘I want something more than a hookup’ till the cows come home, but if I meet a specific person and I want to hook up with him, that’s not contradictory.”

 Obviously, many people’s end goal is to find someone that they can have a meaningful, long-term relationship with. But, as Goodspeed says, that doesn’t mean we have to write off hooking up altogether, or that we can’t have a little fun while we’re waiting for prince charming. If we take hooking up for what it is – commitment-free, casual fun – and we’re safe and smart about it, then hooking up can remain a part of our sexual arsenal, without defining it.  

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