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BENITEZ: Hookup culture has ruined dating for Generation Z

Column: Hear Me Out

Hookup culture and popular online dating apps, like Tinder, have taken over the college dating scene, making it difficult for young people to find committed romantic relationships. – Photo by Good Faces Agency / Unsplash

In today’s age, dating in your 20s is close to an impossible task. Somewhere in the last couple of decades, our generation has managed to normalize hookup culture, separating us even more from each other and creating a whole new world of relationships.

In the 1960s, Betty Friedan published her iconic book "The Feminine Mystique," which launched the second wave of feminism. From that crucial part of feminist history came the sexual revolution — women were questioning traditional sexual roles while battling for a fair place in society.

Members of the movement said that women should have the same sexual freedoms as everyone else, and they should be treated the same regardless of what they decide to do with their bodies. This movement shifted the entire conversion regarding casual sex and laid the groundwork for what we now know as hookup culture.

As decades went by, more and more people started enrolling in college to get a higher education. Being away from parental supervision in an environment filled with young people meant that college campuses became the place for sexual experimentation and casual encounters with potential partners.

It became a well-known stereotype that going to college meant sleeping with many people and that one should not date or they will miss out. Somehow, this is still expected of college students.

Tinder launched in 2012, and approximately two years later, Bumble followed. With the advancements in technology and the constant use of smartphones, dating apps have become the center of modern dating and a big propulsor of today’s hookup culture.

With no strings attached and the must-have dating apps, young people are able to find casual partners and set up dates without having to even leave their bedrooms. The idea that being in a serious relationship in college is a no-go and is still continuously perpetuated.

This all leads to this very tragic conclusion: Dating in your 20s, especially in college, is challenging. Hookup culture, which encourages and accepts sexual casual encounters, has ruined dating for Generation Z.

First, meeting someone organically is impossible nowadays. People are not expecting to be approached and do not want to risk approaching someone and getting rejected in person.

On top of that, smartphones have consumed everyone’s attention, causing us to not look at the world around us anymore. Dating apps, Instagram or Snapchat are generally the places of first contact for people looking to date, and it is something you have to always be on top of.

Moreover, hookup culture has created this new phenomenon known as situationships. These are relationships where the people involved are more than friends but not actually dating, although they tend to be exclusive.

Situationships involve feelings and emotional intimacy while lacking commitment and traditional labels, and they have become the protagonist of dating culture for young people. Hookup culture is so prominent that people are afraid of missing out, causing them to refuse to commit to a partner, even though the benefits of being in a relationship are all there.

This all comes from the perspective that college is a good time for experimenting, which is not completely wrong, but it does not apply to the majority of students.

Most importantly, hookup culture defends the idea that someone should have more than one sexual partner at the same time. Even though having multiple partners works well for some people, it is important to note all the negative impacts it can have on people who are not interested or who are not ready to deal with the experience.

For instance, a 2013 study found that engaging in high-risk sexual behavior in college, which could include having multiple sexual partners at the same time, could be linked to mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety.

It is important to mention that hookup culture also reinforces negative gender stereotypes in our society. There is an expectation that men should be the ones pursuing women, which can lead to unequal power during sexual encounters.

Ultimately, hookup culture leaves us unfulfilled and empty.

The lack of security, stability, companionship and emotional intimacy that stems from a lack of commitment and romantic relationships is extremely hurtful, even if you do not notice it at first.

The societal expectation of gaining experience at college is nothing more than a meaningless and hurtful way to keep people from doing what they really want to do. No one has to have certain experiences if they do not want to and that should be the norm.

Hookup culture can go away once we start doing things for ourselves and not for the sake of being accepted.

Marina Benitez is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and minoring in gender and media. Her column, "Hear me out," runs on alternate Tuesdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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