The Hookup Culture Hurts Everything—Including Your Future Marriage
From magazine headlines and your favorite televisions series to asking your friend what they did over the weekend, you can begin to think that pretty much everyone is having sex without a wedding ring on their left hand.
But even though a majority of people will have sex before their wedding day, that doesn’t mean that hooking up is healthy. Just because it seems like everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean that hooking up is free from consequences. Check out these five reasons why the hookup culture of today can have damaging effects in the future.
Hooking up today? Your present and future relationships may suffer
The phrase “hooking up” is pretty ambiguous. In a recent study, half of those interviewed described “hooking up” as involving sex, but nine percent said “hooking up” doesn’t have to involve sex at all.
In other words, even though everyone is talking about it, no one is quite sure exactly what the phrase means. But what is agreed on is that hooking up involves some kind of sexual interaction between people who expect to have no romantic commitment after their hookup.
Studies show that about 80 percent of college students will graduate with at least one hookup experience. Hooking up makes sex casual and commonplace—after all, everyone’s doing it, right? But viewing sex through the casual hookup lens stops us from seeing how sex can truly unite two people who are going to be committed to each other for life.
The Kinsey Institute notes that one of the five factors that predict infidelity in a relationship is having had a high number of prior sex partners. Studies show that infidelity is a horrible experience for married couples, and has been rated by therapists as the most damaging and difficult issues to treat in couples therapy.
If, as a culture, we’re glorifying the hookup culture in the present moment, how will we view sexual intimacy in the future? Hooking up is destroying how we look at intimacy, and you can bet this will be detrimental to our future marriages.
Some sexually transmitted diseases increase your risk of cancer
In a recently published study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that almost 23 percent of American adults between ages 18 and 59 have a type of genital human papilloma virus (HPV) that increases their risks for some cancers.
“We tend to overlook the fact that 20 percent of us are carrying the virus that can cause cancer,” Geraldine McQuillan told the Washington Post in an interview about the study. “People really need to realize that this is a serious concern.”
Even more harrowing, the study found that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease found in America. Approximately 80 million people are currently infected with the STD. That staggering number isn’t shrinking, either. Doctors identify 14 million new infections each year (in both teens and adults!).
Thankfully, some of these infections will go away without any treatment or further physical consequences. But that isn’t the case for all of them. Some strains of HPV potentially lead to cancer later on in life. The CDC says that every year 31,000 men and women are told they have cancer that’s been caused by an HPV infection.
Hooking up leaves us with a lot of unwanted side effects
Kinsey Institute researcher Justin Garcia and colleagues revealed in a study quite a few unintended emotional consequences of hooking up, even though your favorite television couple experiences hookups as something completely normal and enjoyable.
So when we experience hookup culture in our own lives, we question if something is wrong with us if we experience regret after a hookup. If there was supposed to be no strings attached, how come some of us experience regret?
In addition to regret that some will experience after casual and uncommitted sexual interaction, you may also experience future sexual dysfunction, disappointment, confusion, embarrassment, guilt, and low self-esteem.
Garcia found that even though individuals usually reported feeling proud, nervous, excited, and desirable or wanted before and during the hookup, their feelings became negative afterward.
But for women, hooking up hurts in a particular way. Anne Campbell, a psychologist from Durham University, has done research that shows that the morning after a hookup, 80 percent of men had overall positive feelings; meanwhile, only 54 percent of women felt satisfied with the encounter. Even though it may seem like everyone around you is having sex, women aren’t finding fulfillment in the hookup culture.
Hooking up isn’t as freeing as most people say it is
Thanks to the sexual revolution, we’re led to think that hooking up with someone is about expressing your sexual freedom without getting tied down in the messy commitment of a relationship.
Instead of investing in a relationship and authentically getting to encounter another human being, we’re trading it in for the superficial alternative of hookups.
Intentional romantic relationships provide an environment for discernment and the chance to get to know someone on a deeper level. But hookups offer a rush of excitement, pleasure, instant gratification, and something to brag about the next day.
Leah Fessler, a graduate of Middlebury College, wrote her senior thesis on hooking up on campus. In her paper, Can She Really ‘Play that Game’ Too?, Fessler wrote:
“The truth is that, for many women, there’s nothing liberating about emotionless, non-committal sex. The young women I spoke with were taking part in hookup culture because they thought that was what guys wanted, or because they hoped a casual encounter would be a stepping stone to commitment.”
The artificial contraceptive pill that was ushered in during the sexual liberation movement told us that we could enjoy sex without the “inconvenience” of getting pregnant. But today, we’ve been tricked into thinking that hooking up relieves us of the “inconvenience” of emotions and relationships.
Couples who wait until after “I do” are happier in the long run
Recent studies have revealed that couples who wait until after their wedding night for sex actually rated the stability of their relationships 22 percent higher than those whose sex life developed earlier on in their relationship. Additionally, couples who waited until marriage for sex had 20 percent increased levels of satisfaction in their marriage relationship.
What is the reason that those couples who do wait report such higher levels of happiness with their relationship? Researchers say it could be because those couples experienced a higher level of communication from before they said, “I do.” Because they expressed their love and desire for each other in other ways than sex, they were able to get to know each other better when they were dating and engaged.
Instead of freeing us, hooking up has robbed us of the gift of authentic romantic relationships, friendships, and the beauty of willing the good of another person. We’ve created the idea of a “friend with benefits,” but we’ve lost both friendship and benefits.
Chloe Langr is a very short stay-at-home-wife, whose growth has probably been stunted by the inhumane amounts of coffee she regularly consumes. When she is not buried in a growing stack of books, she can be found spending time with her husband, geeking out over Theology of the Body, or podcasting. You can find more about her on her blog "Old Fashioned Girl."