Commentary: The pain of trying to date in a hookup culture

(Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

When I entered university, my thoughts on sex was that it didn’t happen unless you were in a relationship. I wasn’t interested in hookups and I’d had no experience with them.

That changed quickly.

I was working on an assignment with a classmate in his dorm room when he asked me if I wanted to “do stuff.”

I was surprised and appalled. Is this what happens in university? Am I supposed to just hookup with a guy and hope for the best?

Fast forward three years and I’ve learned hookups are not uncommon but relationships seem to be.

I’ve had my share of hookups and I’ve had sex with guys hoping it will lead to a relationship. I’ve also come to the realization I’m looking for a relationship in a hookup culture.

In this busy world, people have less time to date and instead just seem to want quick hookups or sex without the commitment of a relationship.

Lisa Wade, a professor of sociology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, says this has become the norm at many colleges and universities in America. In her article “The Rise of Hookup Sexual Culture on American College Campuses” she talks about how American campuses appear to be characterized by the hookup culture.

“Students must contend with this culture even if they are not especially sexually active,” Wade writes. “Individual students can and do opt-out of casual hookup sexual encounters, but few can escape dealing with that culture.”

When dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Plenty of Fish are the only ones being used, can we escape the hookup culture?

When Tinder first came out it was predominately used for hookups. Now more and more people are using it as a dating app, but there are still many people using it for its original purpose. It is becoming harder and harder to meet people the “old-fashioned” way by going to the local bar and buying a drink for the person you find attractive or asking them out to coffee.

Now people see it as an advance for sex or they’re scared to accept a drink because they don’t know if it’s been drugged. If you do ask them to coffee, you don’t know if it’s ever going to happen, or if they’ll even show up. Because apparently in 2018 people still just don’t show up instead of saying no to a date and you’re left sitting in a café awkwardly by yourself while you wait for your roommate to come pick your sorry ass up.

People begin to question what’s wrong with them when they can’t find a date. Is it because they didn’t forward those chain-message emails when they were in middle school? Or is it because everyone around them seems to be interested in something else?

Can we find the people who are still interested in dating and commitment? If someone bought me a drink down at The Cellar Pub I’d be thrilled, but can I really expect someone to do that if I don’t dare do it myself for fear of what they will think in this fucked up culture we’ve created?

Maybe someday we will be able to do that without worrying about the expectations that come along with it.