Students should reflect on consequences of hook-up culture

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Hookup culture has come to dominate American college campuses, and even casual forms of traditional dating have largely been displaced. As a society, we have shifted away from a marriage-oriented culture toward a culture which delays emotional intimacy in favor of physical exploration.

Many of us are aware of the benefits of modern romantic culture. We are no longer expected to be wed by 20 or have kids by 25. We have more time to find ourselves and avoid the stress of commitment.

That said, few college students seem to reflect on what we lose when we actively avoid long-term relationships by adopting hookup-oriented lifestyles.

Hookup culture doesn’t teach us the skills we need to be emotionally mature adults. In fact, it encourages us to put off emotional maturity as long as possible. Are you having an issue with the person you’ve been seeing? Did you get into an argument? Don’t waste your time trying to resolve your differences, just move on to the next person. Because hookup culture only prioritizes physical intimacy, the partners we choose become interchangeable.

Given the incredible support that millions of Americans gave to marriage equality across the country, it almost seems silly to suggest that people don’t care that much about marriage anymore. But in reality, millennials’ aversion toward long-term relationships is well documented. Less than 33 percent of millennials consider marriage to be an important part of a happy life, and about 25 percent said they are against the idea of getting married.

Given how opposed we’ve become to serious relationships, we might assume they have serious negative impacts on our lives. Empirical studies say otherwise. When we reflect on serious relationships or marriages, they provide benefits that hookup culture can’t give us. According to research conducted by Psychology Today, long-term relationships yield considerable mental health benefits. People in long-term relationships enjoy an increased sense of emotional security and tend to make healthier long-term decisions.  

Beyond aiding our mental health, serious relationships are also linked to improved physical health. Married couples suffer from fewer heart attacks than their single counterparts and even have higher life-expectancy rates than their single counterparts.  

I don’t want to deride people who participate and even support aspects of hook-up culture. Each of us deserves the right to choose how we manage our private lives, and I firmly believe the “right” choice for any individual is unique. But as a broader trend, we should recognize that hook-up culture hasn’t just opened the door to a more flexible way of life. It has also discouraged people from pursuing more conventional romantic relationships, and that trade-off has real world consequences.

Instead of simply buying into the hookup culture we’ve been assimilated into, each of us should take time to consider what kind of lifestyle will truly be healthiest for us.