Teens prefer hasty hookups over dedicated dating

By Nora Holland, Arts Editor

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Whether it’s “friends with benefits” or “no strings attached,” casual hook ups have become increasingly common among high school students.

The definition of hooking up varies greatly depending on the point of view, but the most general description is a physical interaction—anywhere from making out to casual sex—between two people who are not in an exclusive relationship. Casual dating or long-term relationships are no longer the main focus of the average teenager’s romantic life.

“I decide to hook up because it’s an easy, fun thing to do,” junior Leah* said. “There are no real feelings attached and there’s no pressure in having to see the other person again.”

In past decades, the typical style of high school romance was to go out on dates so that two people could decide if they are compatible and then talk exclusivity. In some parts of the U.S. this tradition still stands, but overall, hooking up, especially in MoCo and CHS, has become more common than dating.

According to a May 2003 Boston Magazine article on teenage dating trends, the sexualization of teen culture over the years has  led to a change in dating habits. Social media and unrestricted access to the internet has altered some teenagers’ opinions on monogamy.

This trend is portrayed all over the media, normalizing one night stands and getting together with no strings attached. Hook ups now occur between characters in almost all popular TV shows, movies and books that teens are exposed to.

According to junior Matt*, TV shows and movies now portray characters with reputations for getting with people often, thus normalizing hookups since this makes it seem as if this is what everyone else is doing.

For some teenagers, hooking up with a certain number of people has become a goal to attain. Some teens go to parties or other social events with the intention of hooking up with someone there. It could be someone they know was going to be there, someone they have a crush on or someone they have never met before. They focus on quantity—the number of hookups—while others on quality.

“I hype [hookups] up when it’s with someone really attractive,” Kurt* said.

One reason some teens may choose hookups over relationships is because of the commitment and responsibility that comes with a serious relationship. Unlike dating, hooking up does not require teens to be devoted to one specific person. Instead, hookups allow teenagers the freedom and flexibility to experiment.

“I prefer hooking up because it’s easier and less stressful than being in a relationship,” Leah* said.

Even though teens may favor hooking up, not all aspects of this trend are positive. Hooking up often creates awkward social environments, especially when it occurs between friends. This can lead to one-sided feelings, misunderstandings and confusion for both people involved.

According to junior Tyler*, hookups can generate “unwanted feelings toward the other person” and make it “unclear where the relationship stands” unless it is defined afterwards.

Although hooking up is a big part of the culture of high school students, high school relationships are not extinct. Long-term relationships are still present among teenagers and many teens date throughout their high school years. Some people hook up until they start dating or resume after they end relationships, but others still see the value in dating.

“I prefer being in a relationship because I get more satisfaction out of being there for someone,” Matt* said.

According to an Observer survey taken of 32 CHS students, 53 percent of the students have hooked up with someone in the past, and 65 percent prefer relationships to hooking up.

The increasing trend of hooking up amid teenagers is proof of how different teen sexuality is from decades ago. The internet being a source of education is most likely part of the explanation for why this trend is occurring, but high school is a time for students to explore and figure out their identities; maybe hooking up is some teenagers’ way to discover what makes them happy and have fun.

*name was changed for anonymity of the source