Plot twist: “hook-up culture” is not the reason you’re single.
Last week, an article called about why we need to kill hook-up culture showed up on my Facebook timeline. Because of the nature of clickbait, I followed the link to find out why our glorious culture of casual sex should be eradicated.
According to this girl’s article, the hook-up culture is destroying intimacy, it’s making it difficult for us to fall in love and it’s dangerous. (There were seven reasons, obviously, but they were along the lines of “You deserve better!”). This isn’t the first article I’ve seen making the rounds on Facebook. Google “hook-up culture” and you’ll likely find a host of articles condemning the horrible culture that is hook-ups.
“Whatever happened to romance?” they say, “Whatever happened to old-fashioned dates?” “Whatever happened to love?” ask the first-person accounts of unanswered text messages.
There’s no denying that people are less relationship-prone than they used to be. According to a Sept. 15 Washington Post article, there are more single American adults than married ones for the first time ever. But we shouldn’t blame the hook-up culture.
“Hook-up culture” has become the scapegoat for not finding love. Hook-up culture is now considered the villain that lurks in the background of every potential relationship, just waiting for two college students to develop feelings for each other so it can swoop in and make one person suddenly have commitment-phobia. Supposedly, hook-up culture is the reason guys only text girls after 1 a.m.; it’s the reason “dates” no longer exist; it’s the reason Tinder is such an unpleasant experience.
Don’t hate the game, hate the player.
It seems to me that a lot of people in our generation are under the impression that the hook-up culture is a new epidemic that’s spreading rapidly. People have always hooked up. And people have always screwed people over in the love department. Think the hook-up culture is the reason Mr. Wrong ignored your text? Well, in Pride and Prejudice, a book written in 1813 by Jane Austen, rich heartthrob Mr. Bingley courted soft-spoken Jane for a few months before moving back to London and ignoring all of Jane’s letters. Sound familiar? And in Scott F. Fitzgerald’s 1926 book The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan hooked up with former flame Jay Gatsby, and then ignored his phone call right before he got shot (spoiler alert).
So as it turns out, it’s not the hook-up culture that caused your friend-with-benefits to have a serious case of the non-feels; it’s just human nature.
The main difference between then and now, is that it’s socially acceptable to be in control of your sexuality without being in a committed relationship. Maybe teenagers in the 1950s went on more “dates,” but women would also be ostracized if they had sex before marriage. It’s no longer taboo to talk about sex and have sex with someone other than your significant other. Maybe the hook-up culture is better publicized, but it’s not a new problem. And calling for an end to it is calling for an end to empowered single-ness, and it’s implying that those who embrace the hook-up culture are unfeeling, commitment phobic people set on ruining the chances of those who want a “real” relationship.
Blaming the hook-up culture for a lack of commitment is unfair. There are people who want relationships, and there are people who don’t. Hook-up centric people are not the problem; the lack of communication between individual people is. Those who want a relationship shouldn’t try and change someone who isn’t interested in one. Because why should everyone want to commit themselves to someone? Yes, relationships can be awesome. But just as there is a dark side to the hook-up culture, relationships can be unhealthy too. Where hook-ups can be cold and unsatisfying, relationships can turn stale just as easily.
Instead of fighting to end the hook-up culture, we should work on figuring out what we want from our own interactions. If you want a relationship, wait for a relationship. If you want to have sex without the intention of dating, you have every right to. It’s your life, so do what you want — but leave the hook-up culture out of it.