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.
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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

11 Thoughts You Have While Losing Your Virginity

Oh my god, it's happening!

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Everyone has an idea of how they want the first time they have sex to be like. And while you might have this idea, and you might be prepared, you definitely aren't prepared for how awkward it can be. (Or for those awkward thoughts that are racing through your mind as it's happening.) So I surveyed former virgins about they were thinking about it when they had sex for the first time.

Here are all the thoughts they had when they lost their virginity:

1. "Is it over yet?"

OK, so this one was me. But it was so BORING. He laid there and didn't do anything, I was on top and I thought it was going to hurt but it didn't... I'll let you guys connect the dots. But anyway, I lied to him said that it hurt and asked if we could stop just so it would be over.

2. "I hope I'm doing OK."

Let's be real here though, this was probably everyone.

3. "This is happening. This is happening."

Probably everyones thoughts right when things start heating up.

4. "Well, this isn't what I expected. It's nothing like the movies."

Losing your virginity is nothing like "Fifty Shades of Grey." It's more like fifty shades of red from, embarrassment and putting in work.

5. "I hope it doesn't hurt—it hurts, when is this going to end."

I would bet that a lot of girls had this thought.

6. "He's not going anywhere."

I got a bunch of these comments.

7. "She's amazing."

Once again I got a bunch of these.

8. "This is happening fast."

It probably did, one minute you're putting on Netflix and the next you're naked...

9. "Do I really want this?"

If this is what you're thinking, just stop... yes even in the middle of it.

10. "I don't want this to end."

#CantRelate

11. "Will I look any different?"

I mean you don't look like your orgasm face, but no you won't look different.

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Contrary To Popular Belief, Friends With Benefits Can Work—But Only If You’re Willing To Take 'Friends' Out Of The Equation

The beauty of being friends with benefits is that if you find someone you trust, you can have that intimacy, without any expectations or jealousy.

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I was involved in a very toxic, controlling and jealousy-fueled relationship a few years back which was why, upon breaking off from it, I swore to myself that I will never ever commit into another relationship until I truly found The One.

After all, I'll be the one to admit—the college dating scene sucks. Every time I convince myself to try going out more and to start dating again, I end up instead going on one god-awful first date after another, relying on friends to set me up with guys, and being stampeded by that anxiety-inducing responsibility of having to text, call and snapchat a boy around the clock just to convince him that I'm into him.

I never actually considered having casual relationships or god forbid—even a friends with benefits situation with any guy I met. Maybe it's just my conservative upbringing in which my parents constantly drilled it into my head that I definitely shouldn't go around messing around with a different guy each week. Or maybe it was my reluctance to give it up to some random guy I just met and consequently come off as “easy."

But then this guy came along. And he completely transformed me, and how I viewed casual relationships.

Let's just call him "John."

But John is someone who I hit it off with from the moment we met and he's probably the only guy I've met who I had a physical attraction to, but not an emotional attraction to.

I have to admit that although he portrays this “bad boy" persona on the exterior, he does truly have a kind soul on the inside which I'm usually able to see right through. But this “bad boy" image is probably why I wouldn't consider dating him in a serious relationship. I mean, because if I brought a guy like him home, my dad would most likely flip shit and my mom would throw a plant at him.

On top of that, our interests and career paths are so different from each other that it's hard to find things to relate to or build mutual respect for each other. He's graduating in a few months, heading off to grad school or perhaps even starting a entry level corporate job, and I don't ever see myself trying to commit to someone like that when I'm still stuck in school with a gazillion responsibilities to keep track of.

But well I'll put it this way—we were extremely attracted to each other, and one thing led to another and we hooked up. And as we sat next to each other talking unanimously for probably an hour after doing the deed, we both decided that we weren't looking for a relationship but that we definitely didn't want this to be some kind of one-night stand.

So we decided to be friends with benefits.

Now, I think the reason why friends with benefits is so looked down upon in our generation is that it defines everything that's wrong with dating culture today. It takes away the conventional method of wooing someone, going on a few dates and then using intimacy as a way to express your love for one another. And also, many people don't like it because it's easy to catch feelings for someone, and that's it's nearly impossible for it to actually work out.

But contrary to popular belief, it actually works.

But here's the catch: friends with benefits is NOT a balancing act of being friends and being sex partners. Rather, you have to be willing to give up one side of the equation in order to successfully obtain the other.

And in the case between me and John, we gave up trying to be “friends" in order to maintain the “benefits" and as a result, it works out perfectly.

The beauty of being "friends with benefits" is that if you find someone you trust, you can have that intimacy, without any expectations or jealousy. And if you stop considering them to be your “friend," then you don't constantly have to think about them or try to make time to see them and you don't even need to freak out if you haven't heard from them for a few days.

But when you do get to see them and get to hang out, it's just this beautiful time you both can savor and really be in the moment without having to express all your emotional thoughts and feelings. Everything is stress-free between me and John, because of the lack of expectation of trying to either make this into an intimate relationship or trying to still be “friends" on top of it.

So here's my main piece of advice to anyone who wants friends with benefits without catching feelings: do not start texting each other all the time or try seeing each other too much. Because if you do, that's when you start catching feelings and try developing something more in the relationship.

If I had the choice, I probably wouldn't have followed John on Instagram (and I encourage you not to), just so I don't ever have to have that thought of whether he was watching my Insta Story or not, or who that girl was in his picture.

My other advice is to take try to take the notion of "friends" out of the equation. As mentioned above, I feel as if most of the time when "friends with benefits" doesn't work out, it's because you both are trying so hard to keep up the "friends" part of it that it begins to blur the lines together, which leads to confusion and heartbreak.

And if you find yourself still wanting to be his "friend" after enjoying the "benefits", I would recommend you to STOP what you're doing and have a conversation with him ASAP.

Be honest, be upfront and don't impose.

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