So, I Thought Hookup Culture Ended After College…

Remember when you were young, imagining how wide and vast your dating life would be? I pictured I’d have at least five boyfriends by the time I was 25, all relationships spanning at the very minimum a year or two. They would all be so in love with me (of course), but we would have to part ways for school (he probably would go to Ohio State, and I’d be at Columbia), my career (that Editor-in-Chief job does not welcome baggage), or because we just were “growing in different directions.” I had it all figured out.

Yeah, none of that has really happened yet.

When I first came to college, I definitely knew a little bit about hookup culture. You know, this idea that casual sex (such as one-night stands, friends with benefits, etc.) reigns above relationships. In this type of culture, people prefer the ease and apathy of simply hooking up over defining a relationship. They would rather “Netflix and chill” than go out for coffee. I understood that’s how college could be and was not all that surprised when it spanned the entirety of my four years.

Everyone told me it would end once college was over. College is supposed to be the time of your life, and those are years you’ll never get back. Live while you’re young, as One Direction says. So, I embraced it and moved on.

I’ve always been somewhat mature romantically and emotionally, so I began dating up and meeting men who were out of college already. I was ready for a relationship, and the men I knew were not. So, I hopped on Bumble and expected a flood of responses for dates. I was ready to scope out tons of new coffee shops and had a list ready for potential restaurants.

Yeah, that was about six months ago, and I haven’t been on a date since June.

Everyone told me hookup culture ended after college, but I have yet to meet any guy in his 20s who is interested in starting a relationship. Why?


Everyone told me hookup culture ended after college, but I have yet to meet any guy in his 20s who is interested in starting a relationship. Why?


Well, to start, I think dating apps play a big role. Apps have made it easier than ever to meet people and initiate hookups. You meet once, and he or she never texts back. Then, you spend the next night on Bumble again trying to find someone new, and the cycle continues. We spend almost a dozen hours a week playing a game of hot or not as we swipe left and right on our phones. This is bound to make people feel a little uneasy about starting a relationship.

Hookup culture has also affected how we view relationships in the long run. Think about it: if you spent those formative years (18-22) thinking that casual sex and hookups are the types of love you want and need, how else would you know what a relationship is supposed to be like? I almost never get invited out for dinner, but I get asked to “come over and watch a movie” quite frequently. Is this because men suck? Possibly. However, if that’s what our culture tells young men and women dating is, it’s hard to expect them to know any different.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as sex positive as they come. I completely understand the benefits and strengths of hookup culture. Women don’t have to conform to old ideas of sex and intimacy anymore, and I’m here for it. However, I also wish there was a way to keep the benefits of a hookup culture without always feeling like I’m a burden for wanting more.


Source: @lunya


I wish I could finish this with some magic cure-all I’ve used to find the perfect relationship, but this is an issue I’m actively dealing with in my own dating life. I don’t have a quick fix because I haven’t quite mastered how to deal with a hookup culture when it isn’t exactly what I want.

I have, on the other hand, discovered how I can change my own perceptions and ideas of dating to better suit my needs. I am defining what I want, first and foremost. Bumble’s newest update has a feature allowing you to note what you’re looking for and filter your potential matches that way. I have officially ticked the “relationship” box on both ends. No more “well, maybe a hookup can turn into a relationship!” or “just this once!” I know what I want, and I am refusing to accept anything less. (Easier said than done!)

In my journey to rid my life of casual hookups, I’m also making a note to meet more people in traditional and unique ways. Dating apps are fun and all, but many people before me found love in ways other than swiping right. I have always sworn off the ideas of dating my cable repairman or meeting a guy at a coffee shop because I was pessimistic it would ever actually happen to me. While I’m still quite skeptical, I’m not letting my own dating insecurities ruin my chances of meeting someone great.


Have you experienced this? Any advice? Let us know!

  • Amanda

    THIS. I remember thinking during my senior year of college (6 years ago now) how fed up I was with it (maybe it’s for some people but not for me), and then dating apps took over in a big way and it just feels like college all over again

  • Denise Blust Vermillion

    I’m much older than your typical demographic and I find this to be just as much a double-edged sword as you do! Being on the other side of marriage and raising kids, it’s really fun to meet men and just hang out and not have to put the work into it . . . to a certain extent. Now I’m ready to meet someone and get to know them and look forward to seeing them just because. I feel like if a woman says she wants a relationship in a dating app, men will steer clear. But I find it lovely when a man says it – and I hate that!

  • The struggle is real, for sure. Having just exited a relationship, that I wished would have resulted in settling down for good finally, I’m almost desperate to find someone new. How can it feel like some sort of a crime to want to settle down these days… Such a shame.

    Teresa Maria | Outlandish Blog

  • Jessy Ferreira

    THIS IS SO RELATABLE OMG!! personally ive never been on any dating app but for the past few months, ive only met guys that want it all and nothing at the same time… friends with benefits and too afraid to commit. im not saying i want to be in a relationship but i dont want to jump into a guys bed and thinking thats it. been there done that and i want something other than that you know?
    xoxo <3

  • Scott B

    “However, I also wish there was a way to keep the benefits of a hookup culture without always feeling like I’m a burden for wanting more.” Translation: I want to have my cake and eat it too. Women, collectively, could change this tomorrow. They can close their legs and demand marriage before sex. Women want different dating rules at different points of their life. Sorry, you need to delay gratification…if you truly want a relationship, marriage, and kids you need to prioritize that in your actions. There is going to be a lot of “left over” women in western society in the next 10 years and I predict the scapegoat, as usual, will be men.

  • SouthCoast

    “Women don’t have to conform to old ideas of sex and intimacy anymore” That’s a major part of your problem there. You’re absolutely right that you don’t have to, and men don’t have to accept you after participating in the hook up culture. Go be free ladies throw away your most attractive and fertile years away on bad boys that will not commit. But know now that when you are done and come looking for good men to commit they won’t be there. You don’t owe us sex, and we don’t owe you commitment.

  • Grant Howat

    Hookups require two to tango.
    When you were young and chaste, you could have bargained your sexuality for commitment. You can still do so, but you’d have to lower your standards now that sex doesn’t mean the same to you as it would have, had you “saved yourself”.
    Because of the psychological changes that you have surely gone through during your hook-up lifestyle, the men you would prefer to have commitment from will be looking for women who have “saved themselves”. So you’ll have to accept that you’ll now need to look at different men in order to find one who would choose to commit with you.
    But my advice to those men would have to be to stay away from a long term commitment with somebody who is so used to variety, as a relationship with such a person will not last.