Curated from: Learn - shy
Being a part of a generation where sneaky links are no longer as low-key as before and potential partners are a swipe away, there’s a high possibility of us having a casual hookup with someone at some point in our lives.
“Hookup culture” is defined as a culture that accepts and encourages casual sex encounters without necessarily needing emotional intimacy, bonding or a committed relationship. It has reinvented the modern dating scene and expectations of new partners.
However “common” it may be, a quick google search for “hookup culture” returns results that are, unfortunately, mostly negative.
How then should we approach this new modern dating norm? And is hookup culture really as bad as the reputation that it has?
Before engaging in any hookups, be completely clear about what you want to get out of it
In a study done on the relation between casual sex and well-being, it was found that whether or not the well-being after casual sex improved was tied to their motivation behind choosing to pursue a casual sex relationship. The study broke down the motivations for hooking up based on these categories:
Autonomous: the individual was interested in the possibility of personal enjoyment, and learning more about their sexuality
Controlled: the individual wanted to improve their self-esteem, avoid unpleasant feelings, felt obliged to hook up to fit in with their friends, or get revenge on a previous partner/friend
Amotivational: the individual was tricked, coerced, or intoxicated into hooking up
Relational: the individual hoped that hooking up could lead to a long-term relationship
Results from the study indicated that individuals who hooked up due to non-autonomous reasons experienced a decrease in well-being compared to people who did not hookup and also to those who hooked up due to autonomous reasons which are motivated more by seeking personal fulfilment.
Given that those who had intrinsic motivations that benefitted them personally experienced greater improvements on their well-being, the choice on whether or not to hookup should best be made by listening to one’s inner voice and what they feel is right.
It is completely normal to want to try out new things sexually or explore your sexual identity more, and if you do not feel ready to get into a committed relationship yet, then this is a possible method of experimentation. However, if you feel that your reasons for hooking up are shifting to please the people or circumstances externally (ie: all your friends are doing it, someone that you are romantically interested in is only interesting in something casual), then you might want to rethink your choice to engage in hookup culture.
Why does hookup culture have such a bad reputation?
It promotes the treatment of seeing other individuals as objects
In general, hookup culture is another by-product of instant gratification — your needs and wants can and should be satisfied instantly, and if the means you used to satisfy yourself did not fully fulfil your cravings, then you should easily switch to another “upgraded” means.
And when taken into the context of sexual pleasure which requires another human being, it is easy to dismiss someone as “not good enough in bed” or “does not turn me on enough”, and easily replace them with another casual sex partner — essentially treating them like an object. Although there is a mutual understanding that these hookup partners are not permanent, the feelings of rejection, however subtle, might still cause some hits on one’s self-esteem.
Having completely non-emotional sexual intimacy is harder than it sounds
Did you know that love and bonding hormones are released post-sex for females? Feelings are so unpredictable, and what more when toying with someone that you experience in such close physical intimacy. While some people may be able to completely view sex as a pure physical activity without bringing any feelings involved, there is no guarantee that the no-strings attached is COMPLETELY no strings, which is why there are so many horror and heartbreak stories of having unreciprocated feelings for someone that was meant to be strictly a hookup.
And on the other end of the spectrum, while trying to completely eradicate any feelings that may surface during the hookup experience, sex can become so mechanical — and another avenue where your emotions are repressed.
Creates another societal expectation relating to sex, dating, and relationships
“I realised that I’d done it. I’d just had sex like a man. I left feeling powerful, potent, and incredibly alive. I felt like I owned this city – nothing and no one could get in my way.”, said Carrie Bradshaw of Sex & the City after she accepted oral sex from a lover but did not offer any in return.
Casual hookups are often celebrated as sexual liberation for women, where exploring pleasure and having a decreased focus on chastity become a norm. However, when the societal standard of casual sex is still likened to what males have set, females are encouraged to match the way they hookup to imitate male sexuality.
And since having non-committal sexual relations is now a norm, the expectation for individuals to have casual sex rather than a real relationship is greater, and those that are still seeking purely romantic, long-term relationships might feel afraid to pursue them in fear of not fitting in with society.
Overall, due to the bad reputation that hookup culture has, one might feel guilty to engage in it, even if their reasons were for self fulfillment and personal pleasure. So, how then can one continue to explore what they want to sexually and in the way they want to, without feeling regret afterwards?
How do I stop feeling guilty about hooking up?
1. Explore your personal beliefs
Look back on the exposure you had as a child, in the media, or the societal norms you were raised in, and how that has affected your perceptions of sex and relationships. Now, compare this with what you personally believe or engage in. For example, you were raised conservative and in a purity culture type of mindset, but you believe in having casual sex for pleasure and exploration. This then causes you to feel guilt.
Figure out what it is you would actually want your life to be like, and reframe your prior expectations with facts that are grounded in reality.
2. Have clear intentions and stick to it
Other times, the guilt we feel might stem from breaking our own personal standards, such as the boundaries in which we are comfortable for a casual sex encounter. That’s why it is important to set some boundaries for what you are ok with in various contexts. Some guiding questions would be:
What would you be ok with if it’s just the first meeting?
And would you be willing to try out a new type of sex or position if you’re more comfortable with this person?
When would you consider yourself to be “comfortable” with someone?
And for sticking to these intentions when you’re mid hookup, we get that it is so easy to get swept up in the moment, so a good tip would be to practice enthusiastic consent during each stage of things escalating. This means that you are truly happy and excited about each new act you engage in, and not just mindlessly go with the flow. Always remember to stay mindful and present, and more importantly, know that consent can be withdrawn at any time. And if your partner does not respect that, then it’s bye bye!
3. And if you still feel guilty post-hookup
Don’t worry, this is also extremely common! First, you could try to see if the guilt you feel stems from society’s anti-sex attitudes, or if you felt that you did not respect your boundaries enough. If you feel that the guilt stems from other places, take the time to forgive yourself, and take a break from sex if that would help. As uncomfortable as it may be, try to see if you can learn a lesson from this, and how you can improve for future sex experiences. Also know that the process of setting boundaries is one of trial and error, so you can redefine how your boundaries might change after these new realisations.
And here are some other tips to get the best experience out of your hookups
Use condoms and lube
Self-explanatory!! Condoms will help you to make the experience as safe as possible — by protecting you from any sexually transmitted illnesses AND of course, unwanted *offspring*. Using lube will helps to relieve pain and discomfort, prevent damage to the skin, and ultimately enhance the sexual experience. Learn more here!
Communicate your wants, needs and boundaries
1. Use the 3 buckets method with your partner to communicate your needs.
The 3 buckets are 1) Yes, 2) Maybe, 3) No. Let one another know what kind of sexual activities fall into which categories. This helps communicate your boundaries and can even open up more things you can explore but didn’t know each other were open to before!
2. Drawing boundaries with your partner about what you are comfortable with trying and not
Use a rating system from -10 to 10. Anal sex could be a 7 for you, but a -10 for your partner. From this simple exercise, you can find out that it is something they don’t want to explore at all and you will not end up pushing them to do it with you unwittingly. Having conversations is important!
3. Pro-tip: Do not talk about sex before / during sex
This tends to ruin the mood because it is hard to go back into a romantic headspace after you “intellectualise” the conversation, or have had some disagreements during the conversation about what you like/don’t like during sex. Talk about it when you guys have alone time together over a meal or a walk. If you are in an open relationship or have casual sex, it is even more important to communicate well about your needs!
How NOT to catch feels for your hookup partner
1. Have a deeper understanding of yourself
Ask yourself what you’re actually looking for, how much you can invest, and how your emotional or sexual baggage might affect you.
Remember that an NSA FWB-ship is meant to be a mutual pleasure experience, and put aside any expectations of needing commitment.
2. Be clear about the boundaries you set
Communicate the terms of the relationship that you want with kindness and respect, and also some of your no-no’s when it comes to sexual activities so you both know what to expect.
If you feel a need to reassess the boundaries, don’t be afraid to be upfront when telling your FWB.
3. Keep it in the bedroom
Try to keep your activities to what you’d be doing in the bedroom, instead of “date-like” activities (since these might make it easier for you to catch feels).
Additionally, don’t close yourself off to meeting other people, and don’t be upset if your FWB gets romantically involved with someone else.
Should you hookup?
The choice on whether or not you would be ready to engage in hookups depends on your motivations and relationship goals. If what you desire is greater variety and exploration, then short-term, low-commitment styles might work for you. On the flip side, if emotional intimacy is something that you are looking for, or if you know that sex and emotional intimacy are very closely linked for you, maybe hooking up is something you could put off for awhile. And in the meantime, check out these options on how to continue self-pleasuring yourself 😉