There are varied reasons why people cheat, and the crux of their intentions is not a simple matter. However, maybe a part of the cheating can be accounted for from the culture we have accepted: The Hook Up Culture. In college it is not a stretch to say that the cases of infidelity, are mixed with the blurred lines presented by “The Hook Up Culture.” In this culture there is no officially together, there is always the poor excuse “It’s not like we’re together, or he is my boyfriend/girlfriend.” So, when we are betrayed, we don’t know to call it for what it is: cheating. This culture has caused the most problems in our generation’s romantic lives. We are afraid to be the “crazed” one to call out the “hook-up” for stepping out because after all, you guys weren’t “official” right?
I sought out and spoke with Jason Parcouver PhD and Associate Director of Public Health, Research and Information Systems of Loyola University Maryland. He explained that cheating is far too complex to place in a box, but maybe the focus should be pulled into the culture in which we define cheating, aka, the hook up culture. He referenced the works of sociologist Lisa Wade, who has researched the matter and found “that while many university students ‘hook up’ at some point during college, about a third of college hookups end with kissing, and that less than 15 percent of college students are engaging in some form of physical contact more than twice a year.” Parcouver explained that this means that there is a huge misconception that everyone in college is hooking up and doing it frequently. Which means, for the lot of us that may have bought into this hook-up culture façade, we’re buying into a concept that not everyone partakes in. This opens the door to other issues such as vulnerability. “This is also problematic because casual sex is linked with regret, depression and low self-esteem, and the majority of unwanted or non-consensual sex occurs in the context of a hookup, often with alcohol involved,” said Parcouver.
Later in the conversation Parcouver added another kicker, that quite frankly, even I was surprised at: not only do many students not want to partake in the hook up culture, but he drew from the research of Donna Freitas, and said “[research] has shown that what most college students really want is emotionally intimacy. They pine for old-fashioned dates and a sense of meaningful connection.” So, maybe we’re missing something here. Maybe there are more people than expected that want something real. And as a result, when we do fall into the hook up culture, seeing that as the only option, we do get attached, and when or if that person missteps, it feels like a cheat and it very well is, because it is a form of betrayal. We are just afraid to call it for what it is, because the essence of hook up culture is to never define the relationship.
There are a few “take aways” here: (1) maybe the hook up culture isn’t as big as you think it is (2) there are students out there that do want a real relationship, again more than you might think and (3) the essence of the hook up culture, is for things to be undefined. So, if you want something definable, be real with yourself, and don’t participate in it. If you are in the culture, and you do feel betrayed, call it for what it is, and move on from that person. Basically, if your hookup buddy is seeing someone else, we can define it as cheating darlings, and you all deserve better.
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