Early in the morning, as I walked back to my dorm in the clothes I wore last night, the phrase “I don’t feel that great about myself” traveled around in my head as I thought about the actions I took the night before. It was fun in the moment, but as I went about my day, I didn’t hear from them. Even in the following week, I’m worrying about whether I’m going to see them. After two weeks pass and I hear nothing from them, it’s like that night never happened. And the worst part is, there was no obligation for any connection after, so they’re technically not in the wrong.
Welcome to hookup culture: a messy and very prevalent part of college life — and, in my experience, one of the worst features about college. The American Psychological Association (APA) describes hookup culture as one that’s “becoming more engrained in popular culture, reflecting both evolved sexual predilections and changing social and sexual scripts. Hookup activities may include a wide range of sexual behaviors, such as kissing, oral sex and penetrative intercourse. However, these encounters often transpire without any promise of — or desire for — a more traditional romantic relationship.” It’s an established fact that there isn’t a concrete promise or obligation for any contact after a hookup, and it’s problematic because not only is there an uneven level of satisfaction and lack of respect, but it is no way to create or foster a relationship.
The problem begins with how popular hookup culture has become. It’s so much a part of the college lifestyle that it’s at the point where people subconsciously feel forced and pressured to do it because their peers are. Looking back on my experiences, I think about where the respect lies in a hookup. Where is the respect when you become intimate with someone, and then never hear from them? How does that make you feel? It makes me feel pretty crappy, and I think it would make you feel crappy, too.
In an online study by APA, out of “1,468 undergraduate students, participants reported a variety of consequences: 27.1 percent felt embarrassed, 24.7 percent reported emotional difficulties, 20.8 percent experienced loss of respect and 10 percent reported difficulties with a steady partner.” And in another recent study involving 200 undergraduates, “78 percent of women and 72 percent of men who had uncommitted sex” of any kind reported that they felt regret as a consequence of that encounter. The reason for this regret is simple: It’s because the encounter was meaningless and noncommittal. You don’t get to know the person at all and there is no obligation to.
When there is no necessity or promise to keep in contact with a person, the hope of a relationship is lost. I would much rather get to know someone first and have a better feeling after I come home from the night before. While everyone is different and may hook up with someone for different reasons, this regret found across the board is why hookup culture remains problematic.
Willa Scolari is an undeclared sophomore.