Generation Hookup.

Via Wendy Strgar
on Jul 26, 2013
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“Romantic goals change from finding boyfriends to finding hook up buddies… a guy we don’t actually really like, but we think he is really attractive and hot and good in bed.”

~ Student at University of Pennsylvania

I was in the liquor store yesterday, choosing between flavors of my favorite Clear Creek brandies when I went on to share my excitement about my purchase with the two 20-something guys behind the counter.

I said, “this stuff can really bring fire to a kiss and heat up your intimate life…”

To which, he responded, “I don’t have an intimate life.”

His co-worker joined in the conversation adding, “yeah being in love is so ten minutes ago.”

“But this is the time of your life for falling in love,” I argued. “This is what the 20s are for.”

Apparently not for this generation.

The death of love and romance for our youth is not really news. I have been witnessing the diminishing numbers of kids choosing to partner for over a decade within my own kids. They were among a small minority of their peers in high school that had steady boy and girl friends. As singles at the University, they both reported how dating was dead.

This generation of college students doesn’t believe in romance. How could they when everyone they know is hooking up? This new form of relationship is actually just sex without the relationship. One girl quoted in the NY Times report  said, “10 years from now I won’t remember who I slept with… but I will remember what is on my transcript…”  The idea that early sexual partners will not even register in long-term memory reflects just how deeply cut off our youth is from the essence of what it means to be an intimate human.

While we have long-attributed this kind of unattached, no responsibility sex drive to young men, now young women also report not wanting to get attached or have to be responsible to another’s needs or feelings. They are too ambitious, too busy, too driven by their own goals to want “the complications” of love.

This trend does not bode well for us as a culture. Not only because it reduces the magical connection of sexuality down to convenience store practices—which generally require a stop at the convenience store to get drunk enough to follow through. Statistically, drunk sex does not make for very good sex either. Orgasm rates for women are below 10 percent and, not surprisingly, guys who are hooking up are not that concerned with the woman’s sexual satisfaction. In addition, the lines of consent and desire blur in drunken hooking up, such that it is not uncommon to walk away wondering if it was sexual abuse that took place instead. It is hard to keep your self-respect in tact.

No one is talking about the emotional damage that incurs when young people initiate themselves sexually with repeated loveless interludes and come to believe that the real thing, of having someone love you and make love to you is archaic, not possible, not available.

Instead, we spin a cultural story about individual achievement being the primary source of satisfaction and promote the very mixed experience of being alone as a freedom from the weight and responsibility of relating. In actuality, individual achievements run dry fast when they are not shared by people who care for us and the richest, most rewarding and developmentally important work we do with this life is learning the challenging ways of loving others at least as much as we love ourselves.

It is not an accident that this generation of youth wants little to do with the monogamy and long-term intimacy practices they have witnessed growing up. How do we teach the critically important lessons of how choosing love over convenience frees us to become our best selves and that even the experience of a broken heart is worthy of our attention because it is how we become compassionate?

The fabric of our lives is based in our relationships. Culturally, we are at a crossroads and a reckoning. Can we bear witness to the shredding fabric in our families, communities and youth culture without recognizing what is most truly human in us is being lost? We need to rehabilitate the concept of loving relationships and commit to providing comprehensive skill development in the practices that bring our desire and ability to relate back to the center of our lives. The future without has no soul.

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Ed: Sara Crolick


About Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family. In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy, she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative advice. It has been called "the essential guide for relationships." The book is available on ebook, as well as in paperback online. Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


18 Responses to “Generation Hookup.”

  1. Christine says:

    I don't know if its a bad thing.. It's not choosing convenience over love….it's choosing a meaningful relationship over a lustful one. We have so much turmoil when we are young and are world is so much more complicated… I think our youth are more educated and want to find out who they are before they commit to another…..are world is overpopulated anyways… Why not take a breather and figure out who and what we really are before we take the jump….it's not that they don't want meaningful relationships… That's intrinsic… They just don't want to continue the status quo….

  2. Amy says:

    Great article. I'm a divorced single mom in my 40s, and unfortunately, I find that a lot of men in this age group are adopting the same mentality. Apparently women too, otherwise they wouldn't have anyone to do it with. I don't find anything remotely satisfying about it. I miss the love and connection of a good relationship.

  3. Jasmine says:

    Thanks for writing this! I have decided to make some changes in my life because the way I was handling life was no longer working. I stopped drinking and doing any drugs and I have been celibate for 17 months. I am a single mom of a 7 year old and would like to have a commited relationship again. Seeing that someone cares to write about this gives me some hope.

  4. Laura says:

    Okay….Please read the book Bonobo Handshake!!
    Please reconsider your thinking.. I totally disagree with you..
    Friends with Benefits is very liberating..!!
    And why do you associate drugs & alcohol with a "hook Up"? In fact there are many abusive alcoholic relationships where women's need and not met… many marriages where people have sex but are not actually intimate.
    You can be intimate with a trusted friend…and share benefits of sexual pleasure.
    Are you saying that if you are not in relationship.. you don't deserve to have sex?
    … And for the record.. SEX IS GOOD FOR YOU!.. You can be passionate healthy and sober whether your in a relationship or not!
    Women should be taking control of their orgasm and going out & getting it with trusted person or persons..
    You have a great writing style.. Just please don't be so judgemental..
    Please read the book Bonobo Handshake

  5. Shalee says:

    Sometimes sex is just sex. Toys get boring and feeling someone creates a connection you miss in the world for IM, text and emails. When you make that true connection "Making Love" means something so much more. I am a single woman, raising a daughter by myself with 2 jobs. I feel it's just as important to show my daughter that you can achieve your dream,s as it is to find My Love. Until then… Safe sex with a FWB works!

  6. nunh says:

    Love is wonderful! If you do not love someone, share your life, fire up the intimacy – you are missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures. This does not need to cost a thing and giving someone love can be the greatest gift! Physical, sexual and emotional – love is a flame that burns brightly when first lit and continues to warm us as time moves on.

  7. Naoki says:

    These teens are more liberated and self actualized. Women don't want to deal with the emotional abuse that many young relationships bring on. Men don't want to feel obligated to connect just because of sex.

    I applaud the Generation Hookup for defining sex on their own terms. If other generations were so great, why was domestic violence, divorce, STDS and dissatisfaction so prevalent in our parent's "loving" relationships.

    There is a new way to love, date and have sex. They are not all tied in together. You can be in love, yet never have sex. Have great sex yet never be in love. Date yet be completely plutonic. I welcome the new rules for "hooking up"

  8. genext13 says:

    This happened before but they called it a revolution during an "Age of Love." What happened there? AIDS and disco music. It was a similar situation in the times of the flappers. And this too shall pass…

  9. Snowyogi says:

    Speaking as a 30 something, our parents’ generation didn’t do much to show us that a monogamous relationship can be happy and fulfilling and last…

  10. Allison says:

    Speaking as a 19 year old, I see both sides. I am personally in a long term relationship, but I'm also in an open relationship. Hookups for me don't need to take place under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but I'm probably not the norm at my school. I see girls who are liberated by hookups and those who hookup because of their insecurities. But more often than not, I see young people who don't believe that monogamy can exist anymore. I personally am not sure I believe in monogamy, or "the one" or "true love" and my parents are happily and successfully married. The divorce rate in America is sky high. We live in this weird culture where we are suppressed sexually, with poor high school sex ed programs, and little sexual social equality between the genders, but slowly I think my generation is deciding to make up their own rules and to teach themselves. I think that there are good things and bad things about this, but I think that it may ultimately result in happier marriages and long-term relationships, and better sex lives. Girls don't want to live the Disney dream anymore. They want to be their own hero.

  11. Adam says:

    Generation hookup? Yeah right. Using a few examples of people describing their frivolous sex life as a blanket for an entire generation is ridiculous. Not to mention that those chosen are in college which for many is a liberating time when their previous childhood selves, pressured by peers and family, are given the opportunity to reassert the way they want to live their lives.

    Every generation has individuals that go through this and those that don't. Unless you have some type of statistic comparing the number of sex partners someone by the age of 30 has, coupled with average relationship durations, and have the same data for previous generations, don't throw out such ridiculous generalizations. And if you do, let's see how well our generation compares with the 60s generation.

  12. Heather says:

    Conversations about love, sex and relationships often get heated because what people expect and need from each is very personal. If you are happy, fulfilled and at peace with the way you conduct your personal life then – as long as you are not hurting others along the way – all to you. Who am I, or anyone, to judge? Why should people conform – either to monogamy or hooking up – to make others feel comfortable?

    What worries me more about what is being said in the above article is the apparent prevalence of sex, by people of any age, under the influence of drugs and alcohol. I know how dangerous this is. It leaves people open to all sorts of abuse that can have catastrophic mental and physical effects. Love and relationships are things that cannot be taught – you don't understand how powerful it is to be in a loving relationship until you are in the right one – but we can teach our young people about safe choices when it comes to sex and relationships that don't open them up to the possibilities of STDs, domestic abuse and rape.

    Love is natural. If we want to teach our children about love then make sure we bring them up to feel safe, secure and loved and to see the healthy relationships of their caregivers. Lets raise them to be confident, compassionate people with high self-esteem and the ability to relate to other people and know what's right for themselves emotionally and sexually.

  13. Crispy says:

    Highly promiscuous people who regularly rotate partners are a slim minority in the overall population, no? I'd imagine they'd be above average looking as well and most likely extroverted personality types. I don't think introverted Average Joes and Plain Janes are getting laid like tile, are they?

  14. JohnH says:

    Does anyone but me connect this "hookup attitude" with the current discussion of the increase in rapes? If sex is so disregarded and regulated to a simple bodily function, then the line between consent and rape become very confused and vague. Mix that with immaturity, peer pressure, drugs and alcohol, what possibly could go wrong?!

  15. Guest says:

    Totally don't agree with this article.. consider a staggering amount of marriages end in divorce… children are ripped apart from divorce and general hate is on the rise between highschool sweethearts and jumped the gun cause they thought they were in "love"

    I was always in the seeking relationship mode. Had a really long relationship unfold cause i didn't know who i was and what i wanted…

    Took with this generations.. i'll just have fun til i find the one .. and that's how it worked… i hooked up with alot of great people .. not exactly my one… and then i found her… and she had done the same and we used all those experiences to weed out our perfect outcome

    happily married and had a lot of fun on the way:P not for everyone but lets face it … i think it's the better way

  16. Lynnah says:

    Yes. Exactly. This.

  17. Padma Drago says:

    Bonobos are communal animals. Living in a polyamorous community is much different than human mega-societies where people fuck and then turn their backs on one another.
    Women have a natural love-bonding mechanism, but after 3-5 men, their hearts get broken too many times and they become like men psychologically.

    All over the world, people agree that american women are more like men than women…

  18. Isabel says:

    This is just "slut" shaming. So what if people just want to hook up? Evolution didn't make humans monogamous romantics. In the seck of sand in the fabric of the history of mankind, that's what we'd call a trend. We are wired to breed like the mammals we are. And yes, we need love, but we also need to be able to fulfill our sexuality as we deem fit. Each person chooses what kind of experience he or she wants. This is like saying, "You don't know what's best for your life, which only you live, but I do."