Is it possible to find love in what skeptics are calling a “hookup culture?” With the development of new technology for millennials and jaded Gen-Xers, there has been more emphasis placed on hooking up casually than actually using all this dating technology to find a soul mate. No doubt, casual sex is increasing in contemporary society—not only as depicted in the media, but in rising numbers.
Casual Dating on the Rise
According to studies cited by the University of Iowa News Services, a non-monogamous lifestyle increased by 44 percent for women and 25 percent for men when being involved with a friend, and 30 percent for women and 43 percent for men when involved with a stranger. According to a Psychology Today story, numbers from 2004 to 2012 suggested that younger people were more likely to have casual sex and less romantic sex.
It’s not necessarily that this generation is jaded about love. In fact, it may well be that the younger generation simply wants to sample the “other side” before making such a major commitment.
Relationship expert and author, Cindi Sansone-Braff explained hookup culture perfectly when she made the following statement.
“Commitment-phobia is the #1 reason that people are engaging in hookups and not real relationships. Men and women alike have become afraid of true intimacy and commitment, because a real relationship asks a person to grow up, to heal his or her issues, and to care for and respect another human being.”
Sex without romantic commitment is arguably an aspect of human nature and it has been around for centuries, if not millennia. Thousands of years ago, prominent kings and patriarchs had concubines for strictly non-romantic purposes. Hundreds of years ago, men visited brothels. Women were shedding their romantic obligation hundreds of years ago, particularly in Paris and other parts of Europe. Sexual revolutions come and go every few centuries and the recurring “outrage” over such matters, from a conservative society, is always predictable.
The Dating Mindset
The question is this: Can the idealist still find love in an online world where hookups are the norm and no one is talking about commitment? Of course.
“The first step to finding love is to be intentional about what you want. Often people say they are looking for love but don’t let that desire drive their actions. If I want a lobster dinner but keep going to McDonalds, I’m going to be very disappointed. If you want a serious relationship surround yourself with people who value love and meaningful connections,” explained Esther Boykin, a well-known licensed Love, Marriage and Relationship therapist in the D.C. Metro area.
There are two approaches that can work. One, using dating apps and online sites and stating that you are only looking for a serious relationship. If this is the case, the idealist would beware of people who avoid talking about their past, their viewpoints or their values in life and instead seemed more interested in flirting.
“Be realistic, not romantic. Don’t develop a fantasy about the man until you know the facts. It’s a tough world out there,” cautions Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. a licensed psychotherapist in California.
The other option would be to start casually dating other app users but to make an effort to connect romantically with them, before, during or after sex. This is often perceived as a weakness by some, who might suggest that talking about love or emotional compatibility is getting too “clingy.” But, it’s not, it’s only a “weakness” if you fall for the other person and allow your emotions to override your good judgment.
When it comes to hooking up on the first date, Jonathan Bennett of The Popular Man offered the following advice.
“It really depends on each individual. However, for large numbers of people, hooking up on the first date does set the wrong tone. It removes all mystery and challenge. It also frames that person as someone to further hook up with, not settle down with in a long term relationship.”
Many people who do hook up may have never tried to honestly communicate with a partner and enjoy mental and emotional intimacy. It may be a new experience for them and you both may be surprised at what you learn about the other person.
The experience could be as simple as engaging in more “cigarette talk” or “afterglow talk,” rather than skipping town ASAP.
Love is Always Around the Corner
Maya Jordan, a sex and relationship expert, shared insight on the hookup culture. “Sometimes people I work with talk to me about love and I always tell them, ‘finding love is always an option. It just depends if you can open your heart honestly without trusting naively. The basic acknowledgement that you enjoy hooking up, but are always interested in a deeper soulful or loving connection, is the first sign of maturity—and of a more attractive and confident person in general.'”
Finding love in a hookup culture is possible if you want it and if you are man or woman enough to handle the possibility of a romantic spark. You may be surprised at what you find if you look close enough. It all starts by being honest with yourself and setting the right expectation about what you want from the get go.
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