Hookups. They’re as much of a part of college tradition as cheap beer and late nights worrying about your future. Even Case Western Reserve University, which has a distinct lack of party scene, has developed what is tantamount to a hookup culture. As students pour in from around the country, opportunities for future hookups are guaranteed to increase. For those who have yet thrown themselves into a hookup—and for those who are considering doing it again—I would like to take this opportunity to outline 5 reasons why you should (and should not!) move forward with a hookup.
5 reasons that you should NOT have a hookup
Because everyone is doing it (not really)
If you haven’t had the chance to take one of the university’s very educational Sociology 101 courses, let me save you a couple of chapters of reading and tell you that many of our perceptions surrounding casual sex are wildly inaccurate to the realities of everyday college life. Perhaps it is our growing need for meaningful relationships or the fact that housing prices have forced us to live in our parent’s homes for longer, but young adults are having much less casual sex than ever before. In fact, according to a study developed by Rutgers University-New Brunswick, the number of men aged 18 to 23 who admitted to having casual sex in the month prior dropped from 38 to 24% over the course of 10 years. Women of the same age saw a similar drop in percentage, from 31 to 22%. But if we, as a generation, are hooking up less, then why does it feel like everyone is getting it on? Unfortunately, the reality of young adults having less casual sex does not change the fact that we can still feel left out of the proverbial loop. It might seem cheesy, but in this instance, I am reminded of the classic mom expression, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?” Except in this scenario, research shows us that not very many people are actually jumping off a bridge, even if it feels like they are.
2. Because you’re lonely (it won’t help long term)
College is a stressful time even without the looming threat of a pandemic. First-year students are slowly becoming acclimated to their new environment while second- and third-years are forced to remember what exactly it’s like to work with their classmates in person. Everyone is so eager to have friends and create experiences, but no one has been in an open social setting in almost two years. The transition between pre-pandemic college life and our current COVID-19 reality is guaranteed to cause some difficulties and perhaps even a great degree of loneliness. To deal with this loneliness, it might be natural to want to run to the arms of the closest willing person for some good, old-fashioned physical comfort. However, this remains only a temporary solution to a larger issue. An alternative to physical comfort is seeking out ways to bond with fellow students. This could be through joining clubs or sports, checking out events hosted by student organizations or working out in the community. If your struggles continue to persist, CWRU also offers counseling sessions at no cost to students. These combined efforts will be far more beneficial in treating loneliness than any short-term affair could be. By resisting the temptation to get immediate comfort, you provide yourself with the opportunity to gain a long-term healthier mindset. So, in the case of hooking up, delay the oldest kind of gratification and wait a couple of months before you start throwing yourself back into the quagmire that we call CWRU’s hookup scene.
3. Because you just broke up with a high school partner (who hasn’t?)
Everyone knows the story. The young romance that blossomed in high school has been inevitably dashed when you move hours away to go to college. Now, here you are, a couple of weeks into school with only ice cream and a soft blanket for comfort. So what do you do? You hit the town and try to find someone to hook up with. Unfortunately, as well-intentioned as your hook-up attempts may be, I would be remiss if I didn’t act like a good friend and remind you that shacking up with someone for the sake of getting over an ex is rarely a good idea. Maybe it’ll make you feel better, maybe it won’t. Either way, any satisfaction that you get from a post-relationship hookup will be short-lived at best and will probably make you feel worse in the long term. Countless love songs have reminded us that heartbreak, even after something as cliche as a high school relationship, is one of those things that just takes some time to work through. Not having the added work that comes along with having hookups can make it a little easier to help navigate your post-relationship feelings
4. Because you’re looking for love (setting yourself up for disappointment)
Although some STEM students might disagree—there is no specific equation that you can put into a calculator to find the love of your life. Dating in college is a gamble and the odds are not always in our favor. Some people will date their entire collegiate career while others might remain single all four years. Some couples will end in marriage while others will end in heartbreak. However, if I were to make a guess, hookups are probably not the best for finding true love. Now, I will have a disclaimer that it is not unheard of for two individuals to enter a relationship after hooking up together for a short time. However, these couples are the exception, not the rule. If you approach a hook-up with the intention of finding your forever partner, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. If it happens—great! You just had an unexpected surprise. But there is nothing worse than setting unreasonable expectations and then inevitably not being able to meet those expectations. Be kind to yourself and your possible partners by remaining optimistic, but reasonable about your sexual escapades. If love is your end goal, dating is much more likely to produce a better outcome.
5. Because it’s been a while (you can wait)
Look, I get it. You’ve been stuck inside for the past year-and-a-half—at least some of which was spent with your parents’ watchful eye ensuring that your extracurricular activities go no further than hand holding. Now, you’re shoved into a small enclosure with hundreds of other young adults, so your first instinct is to throw caution into the wind. But hooking up just to say that you have is tantamount to taking an extra shot just because it’s your record amount. It might feel good now, but it’s going to hurt when it comes back up. Hookups are not a race and you’re not going to get a prize for being the most accomplished. So go at your own pace and your own comfortability. Take note of how you’re feeling and what you think the future has in store. It will take people weeks to get adjusted to actually seeing their classmates in person, so you can be assured that no one is judging you for taking your time to get back in the game. The beauty of casual relationships is that they will always be there when you’re ready.
5 reasons you SHOULD have a hookup
Because everyone is open and completely consenting
This goes without saying that the first and most essential part of hooking-up should also be the most freely given—consent. I know, I know. Between the orientation week seminars and the strategically placed campus bathroom posters, you might think that you have a firm grasp of the concept of consent. Unfortunately, as the recently-retired Instagram account @cwru.survivors has reminded us over the past year, consent is something that needs to be continuously and unabashedly re-established. So here I am reminding you that consent between two or more parties need to be both open and verbal. For those who think that this would be stifling the mood, I remind you that there is nothing sexier than when a person recognizes your needs and checks in on how you’re feeling throughout a sexual situation—hookup or otherwise. If the person that you are choosing to engage with is even just a little bit hesitant, it’s best to just call it a night. I promise, there will always be opportunities for further exploration on a different day. And if there isn’t, then that person was not really ready to move forward with the encounter anyways.
2. Because you’re down for something casual
When it comes to hookups, casual is the name of the game. Hookups allow you to forget the pressure that comes with dating and courtship, allowing two individuals to get their rocks off without all of the complicated “what-ifs” of a serious relationship. Whether it be your traditional “one-night stand” or the mutually advantageous “friends with benefits,” you should never go into a hook-up expecting anything to come of it other than an evening of fun. I would highly encourage you to make your expectations and desires explicitly clear to your partner before moving forward. Here, communication is key. Talk to your partner and confirm the nature of your hookup, because I promise nothing ruins one more quickly than someone getting feelings that may not be reciprocated. Take some time. Think it over first. If you like the idea of something fun with no strings attached, hookups might be the right path for you.
3. Because you like your hookup partner
Although hookups are designed for casual experiences, this does not necessarily mean that your partner always has to be some random stranger. In fact, to make the most out of your hook-up experience, I would recommend that you choose someone that actually you enjoy being around. Now, when I use the term “enjoy” I do not mean that you have to love your hookup partner—in fact, you don’t even have to know them for very long. But choosing someone that you like spending time with—even outside of the bedroom—can go a long way to ensure that both experiences are satisfying. Not only does this help ensure that everyone meets their ultimate goals, but this also creates an environment where honesty and open communication can flourish. Are all needs being met? Is everyone having a good time? All of these questions and more can be answered because you actually enjoy listening and talking to the person answering them. Being friends also encourages a certain level of intimacy that can be useful when going over difficult subjects such as possible body insecurities, triggers and hookup expectations.
4. Because it’s the best time for experimentation
As students, you are slowly growing into the people that you want to become––figuring out what you like, what you don’t like and what you’re open to learning more about. This includes all of our interests––from classes to hobbies and, yes, even sex. Perhaps it is my appreciation for the “free love” movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s, but I have always enjoyed the idea of using college as the time to explore your own personal sensuality. Social pressures from parents, peers and even our own partners can make it difficult to navigate our own sexual interests. Add a little bit of religious guilt into the mix and you have a complex that makes it nearly impossible to figure out what you like in the bedroom. But you’re back at college now, you can be exactly who you want to be and try whatever you want to try. If you don’t like something—that’s fine! Try something else. It seems kind of cliche, but the age-old adage of “I experimented in college” is true. Experimentation is the foundation of finding answers, so you might just learn something about yourself along the way! Pick up a ceramics course if you enjoy sculpting, join The Observer if you enjoy writing and maybe try a bit of light choking if you think you might be into that. And remember to always have a safeword and press on the side of the neck–not the larynx!
5. Because it’s fun
Ultimately, the whole point of hookups is to have fun. Maybe you use it for stress relief or maybe that Marvin Gaye song just really got you in the mood, but regardless you are supposed to leave the experience feeling better than you did going in. You should not be leaving your hookup partner’s house in a walk of shame—you should be skipping down the sidewalk feeling light, breezy and overall sexually satisfied. Is it going to be perfect all of the time? Of course not, what relationships—including casual ones—are? At the end of the day, it should be an experience that leaves you feeling comfortable and confident about your decision. Once hookups start becoming a nuisance or a chore, the point is defeated. If hookups have brought more difficulty in your life than orgasms, delete Tinder and just walk away.
In conclusion, may all of your hookups be stress-free and all of your endings be happy.
College is hard, but relationships and sex are even harder (pun intended). In this latest Observer advice column, the ever-thoughtful Miss Bea Haven reprises her role as the go-to guide for all things scandalous at CWRU. Got questions or in need of advice? Anonymously email firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be featured in next week’s article!