Category Archives: Short-term Relationships

Is hooking up bad for us once we have stopped hooking up???

I am not here to belabor the “sinful repugnance” of hookup culture as our grandparents or parents might. Kids these days…. Nor am I here to bemoan a bygone era of dates to the soda shoppe and nice boys asking permission to court a man’s daughter. They are over and there is no point whining about yesteryear.

Yet, we have to ask ourselves, is hookup culture “bad” for us?

Something like 70% of college students will experience a casual sexual encounter during college. Why? It is fun. It is exciting. It is hip. Who does not want to feel desired?Hookup culture can be empowering. It is a chance to experience a diverse array of sexual situations with many different partners. Casual sex can be a great way to try new things like toys and positions. It is a chance to learn good communication skills and better express ourselves in vulnerable situations. It can increase sexual aptitude. But it can also hurt us when feelings arise and human decency is absent from purely physical encounters.

Sure there are some negative ramifications for those who invest in and participate wholeheartedly in the endless buffet of sexual encounters that permeate college campuses. Yet, there were negative components to dating in 1950 and courting in 1850 and arranged marriages in 1500. It is therefore silly to assume that there are no consequences to whatever mating style we are experiencing this century. But what I want to discuss is how the ghosts of hookup culture follow us out of the dorm rooms and into the adult world. What happens when we are tired of meaningless sexual encounters and actually want real monogamy??? How does the hookup culture influence the dating choices we make long after we have left the frat basements???

Everyone’s sexual experiences are different. For some it is a chance to explore their sexualities in a way that is vulnerable, empowering, and fun. For a lot of millennials, they feel that sex should not always be confined to committed relationships. Sometimes they just want sex. For fun.

Hookup culture does not always create baggage, sometimes we enter hookup culture with our own baggage and that correlation does not equal causation.

However, I am not saying that all hookups are great sexual experiences where both the man and woman orgasm, high five and then get dressed and go on their merry ways, grinning ear to ear with that post sex glow and a sense of liberation. Hookup culture does not always stay in hookup culture, and that sometimes its baggage can follow participants into their next relationships.

  1. There is a strong correlation between hookup culture and women who say “men ain’t shit” 

Sometimes hookup culture breeds a sense of mistrust between genders. Hookup culture is meant to be “carefree” and “easy” and “fun” right? Yet it often ends up turning men and women against each other after the initial thrill wears off and reality starts to set in. Sometimes women learn from hookup culture that all men want is sex and men learn that all women are “hoes.” This carries into later life stages when people actually want to date and marry and settle down, but they find that those feelings of resentment and mistrust still exist. In college, hookup culture is easy because it is assumed that almost everyone is interested in the same thing, meaningless sex, but now that that is no longer the case how can you decipher who wants more and who is still in it for the physical?

Likewise, hookup culture is not really about compassion or respect, it is in fact pretty selfish. It is sometimes about meeting your own needs and getting in and out quickly with very little regard to other people’s feelings. Too often it is a direct negation of feelings and a deliberate effort to diminish and underestimate encounters. Most of the time people get ignored and treated poorly for the sake of maintaining the image that it was all “meaningless.” It is easy to see how these sentiments might breed a sense of mistrust between genders if you spent years of college life, and perhaps beyond, getting treated like a masturbation toy or being ignored by people whom had seen you naked and vulnerable, even if that is what was preferred at the time.

2. Hookup culture is kind of cold…

Hookup culture can antagonize feelings, attachment and even basic human kindness in favor of no-strings attached, meaningless, casual, carefree sex where feelings are the enemy. The logic behind hookup culture goes something like this: if relationships are about mutual respect, kindness, empathy, compassion, meaning and selflessness, in order to make sure that a hookup remains the meaningless antithesis of a relationship it must be devoid of all of those things. In fact just so everyone is clear how meaningless and truly casual a hookup is, it must be disrespectful, unkind, apathetic, disinterested, meaningless, and selfish, lest anyone mistake a hookup for something more. This might work well for those in the college arena who are merely looking for sex and are not interested in a relationship at the time, but let us not believe that this is an attitude that can just be dropped once the diploma is in hand.

Hookup culture can teach and prepare participants to treat sex like NBD and therefore the people they have sex with are NBD. Hookup culture sometimes encourages participants to turn a blind eye to the humanity of the people they get with. They are just mediums of pleasure and nothing more. Men become susceptible to actions and attitudes that objectify and demean women, while women adopt attitudes of suppressing feelings, fearing commitment, not standing up for themselves and treating their partners with aloof indifference. This is a hard cycle to break and I can see why. It is difficult to go from training one’s self to treat sex with a blase approach to experiencing it as a meaningful, loving component to commitment.

3. Hookup culture creates bad habits 

Hook up culture is actually a lot like porn. It is addictive. it is cheap. And most of all it creates unrealistic expectations. I am legitimately worried how I am going to keep the sexual attention of my future husband/monogamous partner knowing that like most of our generation he probably engaged in the hookup culture. How can I, as one woman, possibly keep a man’s interest sexually who spent years of college and young adulthood getting sex from different women. Even if I am 100000x better in bed I still cannot replace the thrill of the chase or the thrill that comes with conquering a “new woman.” How can I expect to hold his attention if the alternative to monogamy and real relationships is the addictive, ever-thrilling pursuit of new pussy that was encouraged of him in his youth?

It is positively daunting and can set up both genders to ultimately fail.  You just cannot replace the excitement of not knowing who you are going to end up in bed with no matter how great the relationship, and that is why so many people in long term relationships seek how to “keep things spicy.” Likewise, women often partake in hookup culture for the thrill of being chosen and desired by many different men, something that is not a component of monogamy. It is an aphrodisiac in itself to be picked out of a crowd of other young, hot people. This element of hooking up can create boredom or anxiety in monogamous relationships later down the road, no matter how great the relationship is.

Also, lots of hookup culture hinges off of comparison in a lot of ways. Men compare the hotness of conquests. Women compare dick size. Men compare how good she gave head. Blah blah blah. When hookup culture enthusiastically encourages as many partners as possible it is impossible for there not to be an element of physical comparison. Especially when sex is meant to be casual and shallow, there is little else to base the encounter off of besides appearance and sexual aptitude.

There is also an external social aspect of hookup culture that happens exclusively between friends in which swapping details of last night’s sordid affair makes for great conversation. It is a part of the culture to sit at brunch with your friends and giggle over what happened and who did who and how good so and so was and hot she was and yaddah yah. Yet, when comparison takes center stage this can be damaging to how individuals view sex later on in life. It can be intimidating to be in bed with a man or women that has been in a lot of other people’s beds. “How will I compare?” or “how will they compare?” becomes a hugely daunting question riddled with insecurity and anxiety.

Likewise, sex is bound to be less enjoyable for someone who has trained their perception of sex to be all about comparison. Someone who has been with a lot of people cannot help but continue to rank and compare and analyze the skills and attributes of the person lying naked next to them, and that can have a negative impact on their sex life even after they are in a relationship and there is no one left to compare to.

So what’s the verdict?

I am not here to rag on hooking up, it is an intrinsic part of our dating/mating culture now and has its merits. In most ways “it is what it is” and there is no point in whining about the good old days. But it is also naive to pretend that it is all good either, or that hooking up is always some milestone of progress for sexual liberation and empowerment. There are a lot of negative aspects and corruption that comes into play when a culture revolves around meeting only your own needs.

I get it Millennials are busy getting their lives together and hooking up seems like an effortless way to meet your own needs while also having fun, but without the rigidity of commitment. Yet, it is important to understand the impact of these seemingly “careless” and ‘carefree” sexual experiences and remember that they can influence us long after the next morning’s hangover.

*Check out this Ted Talk on the “benefits” of hookup culture. I feel like many of the perceived benefits were fleeting, short-termed, misrepresented and did little to outweigh the cons, although she presents the cons as barely more than nuisances (STDs and unwanted pregnancies and broken hearts). I am honestly shocked that some PhD advisor passed this as legit research let alone sound advice to young people.

Good luck,

Ellie xx

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Happy Cuffing Season!

Don’t let yourself get caught single this time of year…

It is that time of year again. Time for pumpkin spice lattes and fall foliage and slutty Halloween Costumes empowered women dressing in ways that exude confidence and feminine sexuality, and of course dropping your summer fling like its hot.

The lazy, hazy days of summer have now passed us. We are now drifting into the time of year when cuddling with bae by an open fire suddenly sounds far more appealing than a steamy hookup after a beach party bacchanal.

For those of us unfamiliar with the dating seasons of the millennial calendar allow me to introduce cuffing season. Summer flings are over and it is time to nail down a partner for the always romantic cooler months of the year. Sure a pumpkin patch with the gals is fun enough, but wouldn’t it better if there was a special someone to hold your mitten-covered hand as you strolled through throngs of preschoolers smashing pumpkins? Wouldn’t the holidays be much more enjoyable with a bae to take to family events so they can stop harassing you about settling down? Who are you going to drink mulled cider with after a long day in the crisp, cool air??? What is NYE without a special person to toast the new year with and enjoy a midnight kiss????

let’s be honest, these holidays were not made for single people, in fact they often mock single people. Mistletoe? Couple Costumes? What the hell am I suppose to be thankful for if I am alone on Thanksgiving???? What is Christmas without an expensive gift from a beau that you can exchange for store credit later on???? Valentines’s Day is often referred to as SAD or Singles Awareness Day….You get my point.

This time of year comes with couplings that change just as quickly as the leaves do and soon those summer hookups are ready to be replaced with their cuddling, monogamous counterparts.Even the baddest bitches and the most serial fuckboys are ready to accept commitment during this time. Something about the changing of the seasons makes us want to settle down and depart from our promiscuous ways even if it is just for a few months.

Now that I have everyone’s hearts beating a bit faster and their cheeks just a little flushed, welcome to cuffing season. It is time to get cuffed to the season’s latest fling for the months of October- March before you dump their ass for a spring fling. But hurry or else all the good ones are going to be taken and you don’t want to still be on the prowl come Veterans Day when everyone else has coupled off to enjoy their 3 day weekend in the warm embrace of their lover and you are left to help mom and dad put up their Christmas lights.

So what is a young millennial to do? How/Where do I find bae? What do you look for in a cuffing mate?

1. Bae doesn’t need to last the year, they just need to suffice for a few months, so don’t set your expectations too high. He just needs to be polite to mom and grandma, know how to decorate a tree and have an affinity for horror films. All other attributes are just bonuses.

2. Fuckbuddies are so last season. Now it is all about cuddlebuddies. If you want to maximize your cuddle experience I recommend the dad bod. He will have more cushion for you to rest your head on and will not guilt you into working out when you should be knocking back eggnog and eating a healthy dozen of grandma’s xmas cookies.

3. The dating apps are a pretty reliable source of eager young beta males ready to hold your hand on Candy Cane Lane and buy you the dreamiest Christmas gifts. He is also willing to do all the sappy, cheesy stuff with you that a fuckboi would have zero interest in. The way to find these desperate betas is easy, namely because most men turn into one this time of year anyways. What can i say the spirit of the holidays is infectious. Ask all your matches if they want to go to a pumpkin patch or a tree lighting ceremony or whatever holiday bullshit. Ugly Christmas Sweater parties are also good. Just remember that while summer was for hookups and one night stands, cuffing season is for mushy activities that last week’s no-strings-attached-fuckbuddy would not be interested in.

4. If you are a guy, avoid the party girls for a while. Don’t worry they will still be there when winter thaws into bikini season and mini skirts start showing up again (okay fine they were there the whole time). In the mean time, cuffing season is about finding “good girls” to bring home to mom so that your parents don’t think you’re a player who will never ever settle down and give them grandchildren. You need to assuage their anxiety for a brief few months with a nice girl who doesn’t hate her dad.

5. Another note for men, this is a good time to get some seasonal work. While the cuddling and Netflix as chestnuts roast on the open fire might sound like a breather for your wallet, expensive holiday events, Christmas presents and Valentines’s Day will be a burden on the ol’ budget. Be sure to not spend too much though. Remember she is gonna be gone by March anyways.

6. For both genders, gifts should stay in the under 20$ range. Don’t waste your money on someone that is gonna be old news by the time President’s Day rolls around. Also, lavish gifts wreak of “catching feelings” and “desperation” something that is to be avoided during this season. Remember, your beau is not meant to be long term, so don’t treat them like a long-term investment. You are just here for the corn mazes and the admiration of pleasantly surprised relatives who thought you were going to die alone.

Best of luck out there! I hope you all find your flannel-adorned hottie to snuggle up with this cuffing season! Most importantly remember to not catch feelings with your temporary fling! While the mistletoe and romantic renditions of “All I want for Christmas is You” might persuade you otherwise, just remember that nobody wants to be attached come bring break and this hoe is only going to hold you back.

Good luck,

Ellie xx

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Types of Relationships only Millennials can Relate to

Millennials have been blamed for ruining romance. We get all the shit because we love ambiguity and hate commitment. “We aren’t dating, we are just talking” or “we are just fuck buddies, we don’t have feelings for one another.”* cue huge eyeroll* In order to alleviate some of the burden that comes with that daunting “what are we” question, I have compiled a list of terms that refer to the equally confusing and ambiguous pre/not quite-exclusive relationships that Millennials are so famous for. Here is a comprehensive list of the vernacular.

“Friends with Benefits” a mythical land where purely “platonic” friends use each other for sex with no strings attached and no one gets their feelings hurt. Both parties mutually agree to pretend that things wont get too complicated or that their friendship will not be ruined. LOL.

“On Going Booty Call” a long term relationship that occurs only past the hours of 12am and the only activity is sex. Conversation and personal information is kept to a minimum. Please leave within 10 minutes of finishing.

“Talking” “We are just talking” is code for: we text a lot and may have hooked up a few times, but we aren’t really committed to anything happening. “Talking” is usually a plethora of gifs, emojis, and empty, vapid conversation to fill in the space until you meet (again) in person.

“Dating” Aka you go on dates, but are also going on dates with other people as well.

 “Hooking up” awww yes the most vague expression in the millennial dictionary, and one that almost always needs clarification. Does hooking up mean sex? Making out? Everything but sex?? Who knows! It’s truly a modern mystery of our time. It is the equivalent of dating purgatory between meeting someone better to have sex with or actually deciding to commit to the person whose bed you end up in every time you go out. *strong likelihood that alcohol has influenced this tryst.

“Seeing each other” is more committed than “dating”, but definitely not exclusive. You are probably both seeing other people, but the number of others is dwindling and things are a bit more serious. Careful, you might be getting dangerously close to having “the talk.”

“Sex with an ex”is pretty self-explanatory. You weren’t right for each other at the time, but your bodies are right for each other now. There were reasons you broke up, but the sex was not one of them. You are both under the spell that this couldn’t possibly have consequences or end badly. So young. So naïve.

“Pretty much together” You are basically dating-except not. This is a term that girls will use around their gal pals when their friends ask “so how are things with that guy?” ( as if those bitches don’t know his name after 6 straight months of deciphering every text with you). Girls will say “oh we are pretty much together” in order to not lose face in front of their friends who can probably detect her bullshit a mile away and know perfectly well they are just fucking and he is not going to commit.

“We’re just friends” Tricky. This is something that is said when trying to explain to a third party why you are not having sex. It is either said because you would be embarrassed to be mistaken as together, or you want a get-out-of-jail-free card for why you are not hitting that.
“We’re not exclusive” 1. The last words on your lips right before your partner throws a fit, makes an ultimatum and manipulates you into becoming monogamous. 2. A man’s way of explaining to his bros or potential hookups that he could still fuck if he wanted to.

“Internet affair” Not sure what to call this, but this is when the relationship exists solely in that rectangle in your pocket. You do not hang in rl, but your DMs are flooded with flirty messages, a few illicit photos, and no real commitment.

 “He/she is not ready” what this means is that you are waiting on someone’s back burner to go from B-list to first string. They are seeing others, but keep you hanging around with the promise that “someday” you could be together. You are delusional enough to believe that with a few choice words, and opportune actions you could move up the ladder and actually be their priority. You are likely to get caught saying bullshit things like “now is not a good time for him/her” or ” They are not ready to be with me.” No sweetie, and they never will be.

Unfortunately in Millennial-land it’s a pretty big risk to have the whole “what are we convo”- what if one person is more serious than the other? What if labels are not PC? What if one person has commitment issues? (don’t we all lol). Everybody wants to be the “cool” person in the relationship that does not give a fuck if the other person hooks up with a someone else. Alas, most of us are not that cool, but dammit if we won’t do anything in our power to trick others and ourselves into thinking we do not give a fuck.

As a result, relationships can exist in limbo for weeks, months or even years, never classifying themselves as anything more than a flirtation, and certainly not a real relationship. With this anxiety in place, committed relationships start to resemble a modern Camelot. Do they even exist?

To be honest, if you are in one of these areas for more than a few months somebody just flat out does not want to commit. Sorry, but they are being intentional about not solidifying the relationship. If someone wants to be with you they will take it to the next level and have the conversation that takes you from booty call to plus one at family dinners.

Obviously stuff gets complicated and I am not a big fan of the old standby, “if its meant to be it will be,” but at some point a lot of these grey area relationships need to take a good, long look in the mirror and get real about where they are headed.

It is not cool to lead people on. It is also not cool to stay in relationships that are not gonna give you what you are looking for. Or maybe you’re cool with them not going anywhere- more power to you- but for the rest of us not wanting to die alone, we will see you in therapy. Just remember that casual relationships are only casual if it is consensual.

If you are both cool with your no-strings-attached-sex-consort pact, good for you guys. But if you are unhappy with your relationship status it is imperative to figure out the situation and know when to leave. This is the necessary turning point and it is just not going to magically happen unless you suck it up and confront the situation. Be honest with yourself. Are you staying in a relationship that is not a relationship because the sex is good? Because you don’t want to be alone? Because you don’t want to confront issues in your personal life? You are afraid you will never find anyone better? Because you are afraid of change? None of these are good enough reasons to be complacent in an arrangement that is not giving you what you want or deserve.

Relationships are a total gamble, and frankly there is both dumb-luck and strategy involved. Maybe you both want the same things, but life is complicated and you were both too shy? Maybe they don’t want to be with you but they were enjoying flirting and hooking up? But always know when to walk away. Have the self-respect to step out of a relationship that is not going where you want it to go, if anywhere. But you certainly won’t get anywhere if you don’t take some risks and show your hand once in a while. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses and move the fuck on.

good luck,
Ellie xx

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