There's Still Hope For The Hopeless Romantic In 21st Century Hookup Culture

There's Still Hope For The Hopeless Romantic In 21st Century Hookup Culture

In a society that promotes and encourages hookup culture, a young person wanting a strong, lasting relationship may feel hopeless.

I remember the warm, cozy Saturday mornings I would spend as a child, nestled into the living room couch playing with Bratz or Barbie dolls and drawing fanciful, yet unsophisticated, pictures of my future wedding. All of my Bratz and Barbie dolls had boyfriends (some of them had to share boyfriends because the doll industry is seriously lacking male representation) and I would spend most of my free time taking my dolls on dates or marrying them to one another. I’ve had a traditional view of love and relationships since I was a little girl: you find someone you like, marry them, have a copious amount of babies, die together — the end.

As an adolescent, I longed for the days I would go to fancy restaurants with my partner or take long walks on the beach; images of spending Christmas together and taking them on family vacations swirled through my head. I saw dating as one simplistic, unchanging thing.

Imagine the shock I experienced once I actually grew up.

I entered the dating scene during the reign of the “Netflix and Chill” era (I guess that’s one of the consequences of being part of Gen Z). As a naive and overly hopeful young woman, I failed to realize that the days of traditional courting had ended and were replaced with a new custom: hookup culture. I was the 16-year-old girl who expected a dapper young man to meet my parents before taking me out. I expected this imaginary young man to ask me about all of my interests and desires, to bring me flowers every time we saw each other (at least until the two-month mark -- then he’s free to drop the uber-romantic facade). I expected to be dating this young man for a couple of months before he even thought about touching anything below my neck.

I didn’t expect for anyone to “slide” into my DMs, saying gross things — which they thought were charming, but were merely nothing more than virtual catcalling — or for them to expect to hook-up the first time we meet each other.

I quickly realized that our generation had morphed the idea of dating into something non-committal and easy-going. Dates turned into hanging out. People “talked” (a slang word to describe doing things with someone that you'd do with your boyfriend/girlfriend, without having to actually call them or treat them like your boyfriend/girlfriend) for months before actually entering a relationship — if they ever did. People would “talk” to multiple people at the same time, not having any significant interest in either person they were engaging with. People hooked up and never talked again. People talked just to hook up. In this new-age and confusing dating scene, I just about saw it all. The only thing I didn’t see was actual love.

Okay, let me not get too dramatic. I actually had a boyfriend during my sophomore and junior year of high school. I knew quite a few people who were dating and not just hooking up. There was never a complete lack of close-knit and meaningful commitments, but the number of people in these commitments were not the majority. As I studied the world around me and how people my age interact with each other, I noticed that this new form of dating was never a cause of concern for them. In fact, I don’t think they ever saw it as a new form of dating. How could they? It’s all we’ve ever truly known.

Love is not glorified in this generation: sex is. From the music, television programs, and films, we’re being told that our goal is not to enter into a stable relationship but to “smash” as many people as possible.

When there’s music blasting on the radio with lyrics hooked over a catchy beat, telling us “I don’t want no wife, I just want her for one night,” we nod our heads and dance along, growing fonder of the idea of casual sex. When a character on our favorite TV show has a storyline centered around their relationships with multiple people (at the same time), we grow to love them, accepting the behavior and mimicking it in our own life.

The culture we are immersed in sees sex as a game, a pastime. It likens physical intimacy to something as inconsequential as playing Parcheesi. It places sex over emotional connection — because sex is more fun and commitment is too much work.

The culture we are immersed in sees relationships as an end goal, not something on-going. We are taught to consume as many people as possible, not to grasp just one. In college especially, it seems like hookup culture is the only form of dating. “We’re young,” they say, “explore. There’s no fun in settling down.” Settling down is undesirable in our fast-paced and hedonistic society. Hooking up is placed over developing a relationship — because hooking up is more fun and relationships are too much work.

I always thought that with sex comes emotional connection, but in this generation, we are taught to not feel any emotion at all. We have decided that sex is physical — nothing more and nothing less. This transformation of sex as an unemotional experience makes it easy to disassociate it from romance altogether. The generation to which I belong sees this experience as something as non-intimate as watching a movie. You would watch a movie with just about anyone, right? And for this reason, precisely, is why people my age can engage in hookup culture.

When sex becomes as unexceptional as watching a movie, it becomes something we practice regularly and without commitment. Why date someone when you can partake in the most “fun” activity without any ties? Why long for anything deeper when you can just have fun? My generation, accustomed to instant gratification, longs for and appreciates hookup culture.

So where does this leave all of the young hopeless romantics? Where does this leave the people who see sex as a spiritual and emotional activity? (And who are very selective of who they do it with?) Where does this leave the people who want a commitment, a lasting expression of love and affection, a person to exist with and not just to experience?

It leaves us on the outside looking in.

It leaves us with the stigma of being boring.

It leaves us lonely.

It leaves us together.

For those of us who share these ideas about sex and relationships, it feels like we’re truly alone in the world. We are surrounded by a culture that tells us our sentiments are wrong. There is a wedge between us and most of our generation but that wedge drives us hopeless romantics together.

We don’t have to adapt to hookup culture to find a partner, or wallow in despair over how we will never find a partner.

We just have to find each other.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

Literally, so hot RN

Literally, so hot RN

I Am A Hopeless Romantic Living In A World Where One-Night Stands Are The Norm

It's the little things.


In today's society, it can certainly start to feel like no one takes love seriously anymore.

Whether it's that one couple who has broken up and gotten back together more times than you can count, the two friends-with-benefits no one can figure out, your local womanizer, or just hookups in general, love and lust are a huge part of specifically college life and culture.

As a hopeless romantic, being part of a generation that "just wants to have fun" can be really frustrating, especially when you just want to find something real. It is so easy for people to put on a fake act just to get what they want and sometimes this can be extremely hard to see through. I'm sure we've all had some kind of incident with someone who played nice but had ulterior motives and the sad truth is that it can be impossible to recognize a person's artificiality.

I am a hopeless romantic.

I have always classified myself as such, and it has remained true. Sure, I can make the most of the freedoms I have as a single college woman, but deep down I just want to find my person.

I've had my fair share of letdowns, and I think we all have, but being a hopeless romantic makes it that much more difficult to get past the "what ifs" and fantasies that come along with starting something with someone new. We may already have our hearts set on a person when they decide they've gotten what they wanted and leave.

For me, I find myself caught up in the little things that someone does. I have always been someone who picks up on small details in situations, and sometimes this works against me.

I pick up on the small facial expressions that he may not even realize he is making; the ones that tell you when their guard has been let down, even just for a split second.

I pick up on the way he sits our two cellphones side by side on the nightstand, taking care to line them up perfectly as if that's just their spot.

I pick up on the short moments of laughter where he actually lets himself laugh and forgets about the act.

I pick up on things, and sometimes I end up hurting because of it.

When it comes down to it, though, I wouldn't change the way that I am. I wouldn't change the fact that I find myself in the search for more in a society that mostly only offers me less.

The trait that tends to hurt me most is also the one that I value most. Even if noticing all the little things is something that contributes to my own heartache, I love those moments. There is something beautiful about those tiny things shared by two people, even if the connection ends there.

Sure, it can be hard. But so can everything.

It's just a matter of finding the beauty.

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5 Movie Sex Scenes That Would Never Go Down Like That In Real Life

There's a lot of time, scripts, makeup, and lights that are involved in these scenes that make them what they are, unlike the sex that happens in real life.

Dr King
Dr King

When I was a child, my idea of sex was confined to what I saw in the media — two people rolling around underneath the sheets of their bed. I didn't understand what was going on at the time until my parents had the birds and the bees talk with me, but still, sex was not something that was discussed regularly in any setting so I couldn't help but use the movies and television as my main source for sex education. When I was a teenager, I started watching rom-coms so my idea of sex expanded to a scenario where two people who loved each other effortlessly fall into a euphoric experience and then they live happily ever after.

Then something about the idea I had changed as I watched the series premiere of "Secret Life of the American Teenager," a popular teen drama from ABC family about a girl who struggles with being a mother in high school. One of the first and most memorable scenes of the show is when Amy Juergens talks to her best friends about what it was like to have sex for the first time. Her friends were ecstatic for her at first until she revealed her dismay, telling them "I didn't exactly realize what was happening until, like, after two seconds, and then it was just over. And it wasn't fun and definitely not like what you see in the movies, you know, all romantic and stuff."

I heard those words and was immediately taken aback. As a 13-year-old, sex wasn't on my mind much, but I couldn't help but hope that I could experience the magic I saw on screen. Then eight years later I have sex for the first time and I realized that what she said was right...not about the part about it not being fun, but more-so about the part that sex is not actually like what is depicted in the movies.

Here are five examples in movies that created unrealistic sex scenes for its viewers:

1. "Skyfall"

This steamy scene between Bond and Severine make shower sex look passionate and trouble-free, but do its expectations match reality? No. What they don't show you is the sting from the water getting into your eyes, the awkward positions your bodies have to accommodate with if there's a significant height difference between you and your partner and the fact that water is a terrible substitute for lube because it strips away the natural lubrication your genitals produce.

2. "No Strings Attached"

Sometimes there are those moments when you want to have sex, but you don't have that much time on your hands so you have to fit in a quick session before work in the morning, in between classes, or right before the kids come back home. Though Natalie Portman's "O" face is spot on, the main thing that makes her quickie with Ashton Kutcher's unrealistic is that she still manages to climax after 45 seconds without any kind of foreplay, lube, or toys involved. The female orgasm is still possible during a quickie, but in real life, there will still have to be creative measures involved so that enough stimulation outside of penetration is involved to get her warmed up.

3. "Fifty Shades of Grey"

As much as I enjoyed the playfulness behind Ana and Christian dipping ice cream on each other's bodies and licking it off each other, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at how over exaggerated it became. Yes, I understand that when something feels good, a moan or some type of vocalization will happen, but getting some kisses and licks on your thighs isn't going to have you arching your back like a demon going through an exorcism.

4. "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's chemistry and passion in this scene is undeniable and it almost makes you want to start a fight with your partner just so you two can have some hot, angry sex just like them. Here's the problem though. They go from nearly killing each other to being boo'ed up like nothing happened. While angry sex can be a way for some couples to express emotions through adrenaline, it isn't the answer to our problems and shouldn't be a substitute for healthy communication.

5. "Titantic"

The moment in the movie when Kate Winslet's hand slams against the door of the car and drifts down as we stare at her steamy handprint and secretly wish we were sleeping with Leonardo DiCaprio will always be a classic. However, this scene is still a scam for those who hope car sex is as passionate and heartfelt as that. Truth be told, there's limited space to feel comfortable so leg cramps are inevitable and sliding against leather feels awful on your skin. To top things off, if you aren't careful enough, you may get caught by the police and ultimately have to register as a sex offender depending on your state's laws.

I truly hope for the day that sex in the media is represented in more of a realistic way, but until then, we just have to remember to take movies for what they are. Acting. There's a lot of time, scripts, makeup, and lights that are involved in these scenes that make them what they are, unlike the sex that happens in real life. As a matter of fact, sometimes sex isn't romantic. Sometimes it's not a fairy tale. There are times when it can be mind-blowing and other times when it's awkward, funny, or simply not what we expect. Do I appreciate fictional sex? Of course. But mainstream entertainment should also take the time to show us more than the sex we supposedly fantasize about and also show us sex that we can look at and see ourselves.

Dr King
Dr King

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