The hookup hype
Hookup culture has captivated the lives of the younger generation, and is quickly replacing traditional relationships. Romance and dating are becoming a thing of the past for many high school students
Julia Masterson, 2020 graduate, said she experienced how hookup culture captivates teenagers.
“I had some friends that fully transformed. They went from wanting to save themselves until marriage and then ended up going crazy. They started hooking up with so many different people, because it was just such a normalized thing,” Masterson said.
Although some do see the appeal in a committed relationship, hook ups are often the easier choice.
“With a relationship, you get consistency and someone to hang out with,” Junior Tyler Wolf said. “But it’s high school, most people aren’t really looking for that.”
High school comes with homework and countless opportunities for extracurricular activities. Creating a relationship with someone else would involve taking out time for them, said Wolf.
“Responsibilities come with a relationship, but sometimes people only want the intimate side of things, so they turn to a hookup,” Wolf said.
Junior Julie Dean shared what she thinks is an appealing aspect of hookup culture.
“I think people look for hookups rather than relationships because they don’t require an emotional connection as much as relationships do,” Dean said. “A lot of the time, people choose to get into the relationship without actually having to commit to a person.”
Wolf stated being committed to someone else can be fun, but it is not always simple.
“Being in a relationship is great if you can find it. But once something happens, like someone gets their heart broken, it often isn’t what they’re looking for anymore. They start to look for those quick connections,” Wolf said.
But for some, high school love can be real. Seniors Maya Welde and Luke Sallman have been dating for three years. Both of their parents were high school sweethearts. Through watching her parents, Welde said she was shown that young love is possible, and can work.
“My parents have been together since they were 17, and I’ve always felt lucky to have that model of love,” Welde said.
Another successful representation of high school sweethearts is science teacher Michael Richards and his wife, Julie Richards. The pair has been together for almost 15 years. Richards and his wife met when he was a sophomore and she was a freshman.
According to those who have been in a committed relationship, such as Welde and Sallman, a relationship is stronger once a label is established.
“I think actually having the title of dating says that I see him on a deeper level than just attraction; there’s a sort of deeper substance to our relationship,” Welde said. “He’s my best friend and my boyfriend.”
Richards said a title can create clarity for the people involved.
According to Sallman, defining a relationship shows that the couple actually wants to spend time together.
“Even just hanging out with her, we get to have fun. We’ll play games or just watch movies, and it means we’re content just being in each other’s company,” Sallman said.
The pair said it is no easier to be in a committed relationship; it has its set of flaws and struggles as well.
“It’s hard to know who you want to be already, and getting involved in a relationship that isn’t right for you can be hard, and probably won’t work,” Sallman said. “It would be better to be apart than trapped in that sort of relationship.”
But for Welde and Sallman, they believe the commitment works and is worth it.
“If your intention is just that physical attraction, or a temporary companion, maybe [hookups] are just better for you,” Welde said. “But for us, even with everything that comes with it, we wanted someone long term.”
In contrast to Welde, Wolf said many teenagers find themselves in a position where settling down is not a path they want just yet.
“We’re teenagers, everything’s constantly changing. How can we really know what we want?” Wolf said.
Junior Thomas Peterson said there is a reason the younger generation seems to be the main contributors to hookup culture.
“We’re young. We don’t have a lot of strong morals yet. We make decisions off of impulse, especially because we’re in high school, our brains are still developing,” Peterson said.
Wolf added it is common to make snap judgments of someone based on their physical appearance.
“It has to do with infatuation. We’re quickly attracted to someone, and become obsessed with the idea of them or being around them, instead of the person themself,” Wolf said.
Masterson said it’s easier to find a quick connection with someone in recent years.
“I think what’s changed the most is the way that people have been communicating in general, like with Snapchat. I’ve definitely noticed that people just have the ability to talk to more people at once,” Masterson said.
Peterson shared his point of view on the perceived increase in hookups.
“[Societal] culture has shifted a bit. Virginity is less of an enforced idea,” Peterson said.
Wolf suggested another potential reason for the shift.
“In the ‘50s, a lot of women took [on] the role of a housewife after high school. It was not as common for girls to get a higher education. But, once women started attending college, obviously, hookups started happening,” Wolf said.
Richards said he observed how his students are impacted by the lack of commitment associated with hookup culture, despite most students being private about their relationships.
“You typically see one person getting hurt and it’s stereotypically the girl,” Richards said.
Dean shared her perspective on the differences in hookup culture for girls and guys.
“It definitely makes women feel less valued, because most of the time it’s men seeking out women for [a hookup] and I think women are more likely to catch feelings,” Dean said.
Additionally, Dean said women are often negatively stereotyped compared to how men are viewed.
“If a girl gets with a lot of people, everyone hears about it and thinks of them as someone who gets around. Versus with men, you see them as more desirable because they are getting with that many girls,” Dean said.
Wolf explained his view on how hookup culture is perceived differently for girls and guys.
“I heard this thing recently, for how girls and boys’ [sex] life is seen. ‘If you have a key, and it opens a lot of locks, it’s a master key. But, if you have a lock, and it can be opened by a lot of keys, it’s a broken lock,’” Wolf said. “I don’t know why it’s this way, but I’ll admit that is how boys and girls are perceived.”
Dean said hookup culture can make people be perceived in a variety of ways. But, at the end of the day, she said it is important to remain considerate of others’ decisions.
“I think [men and women] need to treat people with more respect,” Dean said. “Even if you’re still participating in [hookups], be more open minded to actual relationships as well.”