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Is Romance Dead? Hookup Culture Thinks So

Is Romance Dead? Hookup Culture Thinks So

“Romantic goals change from finding boyfriends to finding hook up buddies…a guy we don’t actually really like, but we think he is really attractive and hot and good in bed.”  -Student at U of Penn

I was in the liquor store yesterday, choosing between flavors of my favorite Clear Creek brandies  when I went on to share my excitement about my purchase with the two 20-something guys behind the counter. I said “this stuff can really bring fire to a kiss and heat up your intimate life…” He responded with, “I don’t have an intimate life.” His co-worker joined in the conversation adding, “Yeah, being in love is so ten minutes ago.” I argued, “But this is the time of your life for falling in love. This is what your 20s are for.” Apparently not for this generation.

The death of love and romance for our youth is not really news. I have been witnessing the diminishing numbers of kids choosing to partner for over a decade within my own kids. They were among a small minority of their peers in high school that had steady boy and girlfriends.  As singles at the University, they both reported how dating was dead. This generation of college students don’t believe in romance. How could they when everyone they know is hooking up.  This new relationship form is actually just sex without the relationship. One girl was quoted in the NY Times report saying, “Ten years from now I won’t remember who I slept with… but I will remember what is on my transcript…”  The idea that early sexual partners will not even register in long term memory reflects just how deeply cut off our youth is from the essence of what it means to be an intimate human.

While we have long attributed this kind of unattached, no responsibility sex drive to young men, now young women also report not wanting to get attached or have to be responsible to another’s needs or feelings. They are too ambitious, too busy, too driven by their own goals to want “the complications” of love. This trend does not bode well for us as a culture.

Not only because it reduces the magical connection of sexuality, but often turns it into an party experience we only have when we get drunk enough. Statistically, drunk sex is does not make for very good sex.  Orgasm rates for women are below 10 percent and, not surprisingly, guys who are hooking up are not that concerned with the woman’s sexual satisfaction. In addition the lines of consent and desire blur during drunk hook ups, so much so that it is not uncommon to walk away wondering if it was sexual abuse that took place instead.  After all of this, it is hard to keep your self-respect in tact.

No one is talking about the emotional damage that incurs when young people initiate themselves sexually with repeated loveless interludes. They come to believe that the real thing — having someone love you and make love to you — is archaic, not possible and not available. Instead, we spin a cultural story about individual achievement being the primary source of satisfaction and promote the very mixed experience of being alone as a freedom from the weight and responsibility of relating.

In actuality, individual achievements run dry fast when they are not shared by people who care for us and the richest, most rewarding and developmentally important work we do with this life is learning the challenging ways of loving others at least as much as we love ourselves.

It is not an accident that this generation of youth wants little to do with the monogamy and long term intimacy practices they have witnessed growing up. How do we teach the critically important lesson of how choosing love over convenience frees us to become our best selves? How even the experience of a broken heart is worthy of our attention because it is how we become compassionate?

The fabric of our lives is based in our relationships. Culturally, we are at a crossroads and a reckoning. Can we bear witness to the shredding fabric in our families, communities and youth culture without recognizing what is most truly human in us is being lost?  We need to rehabilitate the concept of loving relationships and commit to providing comprehensive skill development in the practices that bring our desire and ability to relate back to the center of our lives.  A future without this has no soul.

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

91 comments

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8:00AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

Thanks - hooking up just doesn't appeal to me!

7:56AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

Two main factors are behind this. The lack of respect men have for women, and women wanting to act like the men do. Women used to have the high moral ground, and they need to regain that. I believe this would make men want to be emotionally more with women, and women would have men who would respect them.

1:24AM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

Its not dead...just fast and drive through

12:17PM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

Everyone is different.

8:03PM PDT on Aug 31, 2013

Thanks!

9:24AM PDT on Aug 31, 2013

Romance isn't dead, it's just on facebook now

6:43PM PDT on Aug 30, 2013

Too bad.

10:31AM PDT on Aug 29, 2013

continued.. my best friend since 6th grade just to be crushed and heartbroken years later after we'd made a life together. hook ups didnt kill love, hook ups have existed (esp in youth) for hundreds of years. they just werent as out in the open. what ruined love was people not respecting each other

10:29AM PDT on Aug 29, 2013

don't blame it on this generation only. the divorce of the older generation isn't helping. how can the youth beleive in something that failed so completely in their parents generation? so share the blame author and authors age group, it isn't just hook up culture. people don't seem to know how to openly communicate. dedicate and commit anymore. I am 22 and I know hook up types, but i also know commitment types, and I assure you the past was full of hook ups too. You are saying the 70s weren't full of flings and promiscuity? Right. History tells a different story. the acceptance of divorce and the acceptanc e of not having to be tied to misery forever isn't a bad thing. why suffer in silence when you can live? if both parties know whats up, and agree thatthey want the same things who are you to judge? I was married. i married my highschool sweetheart. He was my 2nd (my first was rape so he doesnt count anyway).. my first love. we dated 2 years, got married after highschool, were married for 2 years and had a beautiful little baby when I left. did i leave to hook up? nope. I left bc he became possessive, controlling and angry. he also became a cheater. not a hook up but a serious affair that ruined what little we still had. now I am with my current and hopefully my forever guy, we have been together for 2.5 years. and guess what? i dont want to marry him. not yet. not for awhile. i want to be certain... I do NOT want to repeat my mistake of being head over heels for years with

3:30AM PDT on Aug 26, 2013

Noted

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