Hook-up culture is getting us nowhere but into a mess of tangled sheets and unreturned text messages.
It’s one of the not-so-glamorous trademarks of our generation, and has resulted in more than a handful of millennials keeping their relationships so physically intimate that little exists beyond just that.
For all but a few, traditional dating has taken a back seat and with casual hook-ups eagerly taking the wheel. In the coming months, I’ll be a maid of honour for one of the few friends my age to be in a committed partnership and the reality of non-committed relationships is glaring.
Research done by The Globe and Mail in 2013 estimates that 80 per cent of Canadian undergraduate students participate in at least one hook-up during their university career, this percentage includes anything from make out sessions to oral sex, but the statistic drops by half when it comes to full-on intercourse.
Why — as a student who is only a month and a half younger than her soon-to-be married best friend — is it that I, like most of my generation, have fewer long-term relationship prospects than dollars in my loan-stricken bank account?
Hook-up culture is getting us nowhere is because we’re too busy trying to get ourselves somewhere.
Like everything else, relationships are an investment of time and effort: they need to be nurtured in order to be sustained, but for full-time students like me, the commitment isn’t always feasible.
On top of a heavy course load, extracurricular activities and maintaining my commitment to friends and family, it’s unrealistic to think that a partnership won’t suffer amongst these responsibilities.
This is especially clear in a technology-ridden era when so many of our interactions occur conveniently, albeit impersonally, through a touchscreen, making going the extra mile to interact with someone and pursue a relationship even more burdensome.
Our world is rapidly evolving, and as the technological generation we are not only expected to participate and contribute to this growth, but maintain a competitive edge that will keep us at the forefront of success amongst these innovative changes.
This means working and learning harder and with more intention than we have before, it requires us to prioritize which endeavours are most deserving of our limited time.
However, it causes many young people to become hesitant about pursuing relationships that may not be worth their while.
So what do we do? How do we remain close to one another without committing so much that we begin to slide down our generation’s ladder of success?
We hook up.
We might have a friend, a casual acquaintance, or maybe a new object of our attention every second Friday and commit ourselves to them for only as long as they’re in our presence.
We get to experience intimate human closeness, feel the touch of another’s skin on ours without the worry that they’ll be texting you obligatory pleasantries or that they’ll want more time than you can afford without your other commitments beginning to slip.
Unless there’s time to add another commitment to an already leaning tower, we find ourselves looking for instant satisfaction of this desire. We turn to apps like Tinder that not only offer a quick and easy way to become involved without commitment, but perpetuates this toxic hook-up culture in a generation of people who already have little patience to meet and get to know each other.
Without face-to-face contact and the opportunity to gauge someone’s body language as a part of the conversation, the ability to truly get to know one another slips further and further into the realm of artificial connectedness where we are constantly logged in, but never truly connecting.
This hook-up culture is so toxic because of the lack of emotional intimacy it promotes. Hook-ups are carried out to satisfy your own desire and therefore don’t require the attentiveness to a partner’s needs that make an exclusive relationship so fulfilling.
As a result, millennials won’t only be incapable of creating lasting relationships due to their fleeting experience, but are missing out on the sense of connectedness that comes from being physically involved with someone they love and care for.
This insubstantial experience, however, is exactly what some find to be so appealing about hook-up culture: it creates a divide between physical and emotional intimacy that in our busy lives may be the very thing that works for us.
But, if you just participate in this culture because you’re too busy for an exclusive relationship, it’s bound to get messy when it satisfies no more than just your physical desires.
What happens then to those in the group of people who are unable to commit wholeheartedly but are unwilling to participate in this rampantly growing hook-up culture?
We become stuck between a rock and a hard place where, unless we find someone with the same goals and expectations of a relationship as we have, we might decide it’s not worth the effort to put ourselves out there and try. Instead, we keep our energy focused on those other responsibilities that make it so hard to balance a relationship in the first place.
Maybe that’s the way to do it — to focus our efforts on being the best version of ourselves that we can be, and find ourselves delightfully surprised when we find someone who is worth having too much on our plates for.
Until that happens though, don’t be afraid to say “I do” to dating.
Kasey Caines is a fourth year English major.
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