“I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me … everyday,” is what Ryan Gosling’s character, Noah, said to Allie (Rachael McAdams) as he begged her to choose him instead of her fiancé in a pivotal scene in the riveting emotional fluffer, The Notebook.
Back in the good-ol’-days of drive-in movie dates, chocolate-covered strawberries with flowers and corny Hallmark cards that generically express the feelings of the emotionally stunted, this type of sappy profession of one’s inner soul was once an admirable quality of a potential lover.
Nowadays, these types of lines are as likely to win over a woman’s heart and panties as restraining orders are likely to gain friends.
Contemporary American hookup culture has its roots in the 1920s, according to evolutionary biologist Justin Garcia.
Technological advancements, such as the automobile and movie theaters, brought young couples out of their parents’ homes and constant supervision, giving them more freedom and opportunity for sexy time. Never has seeing a woman’s elbows and ankles been so readily available.
With the loosening sexual morals and the advancement of feminism and birth control that accompanied the sexual revolution in the 1960s, sex became unhinged from nuptials and non-marital sex became more socially accepted.
Fast-paced modern society, combined with mobile technology and social media, has bourgeoned hookup culture and courtship has evolved from developing instant intimacy to an endless barrage of dick pics, creepy pickup lines and mind games.
However, this isn’t all bad, as the hookup culture has marked the beginning of a demise of outdated, religious, misogynistic sexual double standards, as women are more free to explore their sexuality with less judgment from sexually frustrated moral purists and creepy old priests who choose to share the love of Jesus with their subservient alter boys.
But is our collective Attention Deficit Disorder turning into Affection Deficit Disorder?
In her landmark book, The End of Sex; How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy, Donna Freitas, a religion professor at Boston University, argues this phenomena sacrifices long-term emotional development for short-term sexual pleasure.
She surveyed and extensively interviewed over 2,500 college students at religious, secular public and secular private schools.
Freitas discovered both men and women students are deeply unhappy with hookup culture. Meaningless intercourse apparently led them to associate sexuality with “ambivalence, boredom, isolation and loneliness,” yet they reluctantly accept hooking up as an obligatory prerequisite of young adulthood.
Nevertheless, this blatantly jaded view presupposes young men and women are completely devoid of the ability to cultivate a relationship that grows from casual sex and that “traditional” courtship of admitting one’s desire during the heated passion of encountering love at first sight is actually attractive.
A New York Times article “I Heart Unpredictable Love,” cites a study conducted by Gregory Berns scanned his subjects’ brains with an M.R.I. while giving them fruit juice and water. The subjects either received water or fruit juice as a reward at random intervals, or they were administered every 10 seconds.
Berns found unpredictable rewards result in increased dopamine releases than predictable ones. Since more dopamine means more pleasure, one implication of this study is that people experience more pleasure with unpredictable rewards than with predictable ones.
So equate this with a capricious potential romantic partner, and it’s more likely that people are initially attracted to the intrigue of mystery, mental gymnastics and randomized social validation rather than straightforward transparency and the confession of one’s feelings.
Essentially, texting and casual dialogue has transformed courting into a mental chess match, where every message, smooth line, date and reaction is strategically planned to elicit a certain kind of emotion in order to play mind games that stimulate subconscious arousal rather than express genuine emotions.
Next time you think about answering a text from that potential someone or want to plan a date with them; wait an hour, or a day, or a week, or a year, or even a decade to respond, so neediness isn’t displayed. Psychology shows that being random, spontaneous and opaque is the key to attraction.
The only way to show interest is through disinterest, so the other person’s disinterest turns into interest while your disinterest hides your interest and over time, hopefully, the initial interest doesn’t gradually fade into disinterest because showing interest creates disinterest. It makes sense because the only way to properly pursue someone is to manipulate their emotions.
We now live in a world that disregards cheesy romance lines and proliferates magical dating apps, like Tinder, which connect just as many private parts as hearts. Men and women continue to cycle through each other like a lifestyle hipster snob cycles through curated homeless person ensembles at Urban Outfitters every three months to seem trendy.
But is the hookup culture the scourge of the millennial generation or a natural progression of human intimacy?
As men and women drift through partners after countless 30-second jackhammer doggystyle sessions, there’s an opportunity to find that significant other as people are constantly being connected through technology and social events without the need for an idealized Hollywood portrayal of romance.
Lifestyles are constantly being challenged and diversified in America. Traditional nuclear families have now expanded to cohabitation, gay and lesbian couples and single parents. There’s no reason that random, sloppy coitus can’t coexist with dating.
People look for different kinds of relationships at different points in their lives, so there’s really no right or wrong way to conduct one’s personal life.
In the midst of all this casual sex and questioning of traditional dating values, the main takeaways from the emerging hookup culture are the cliché expressions, “do what makes you happy” and “be yourself and people will love you for who you are.”
Men shouldn’t let the number of sexual conquests dictate their self-worth, while women shouldn’t allow sex to devalue them. As long as people know what they’re looking for in life and refuse to allow other people’s perceptions of them to influence their self-esteem, then maybe hookup horndogs and hopeless romantics can pursue their affectionate ambitions together in the modern dating world.
Life is simply a series of random events, and the universe will inevitably unfold as it was meant to.
Everyone will eventually find that special someone, whether it’s in the bed sheets or their beating hearts.
Or maybe you’ll just die cold, bitter and alone. I don’t know, I’m not Cupid.