The myth of ‘Hookup Culture’

Hooking up. Is it more than just casual sex? Javiera Lo-Loyola explores the myth surrounding our Hookup Culture, and the damaging impact it has on relationships.


It’s a term we’ve all heard of before.                

Hooking up has become a common topic of conversation, especially when agreeing on what exactly it means to hook up. From kissing to hand jobs, sex or sexting, definitions on this social norm differ hugely. Urban Dictionary says hooking up is a, “casual sexual activity. Sex while not in a relationship. Similar to a one-night stand, but it can happen repeatedly.” So in this case, since we all love Urban Dictionary, hooking up means casual sex.

Sex in general can be confusing and intimate - but is it as common as we think? As the millennials of society, we have been raised with the ease of technology and social media, which gave way to the rise in dating apps. And with that, a false reputation of only engaging in casual sex, and not needing any education or guidance because there's a wealth of information at our fingertips. 

Yet, according to a new report conducted by Harvard, millennials frequently feel clueless and lost on how to even start a healthy dating relationship, often leaving them concerned about how to develop one seriously. The study surveyed 3,000 Americans aged 18 to 25 on their attitudes towards sex and relationships, which brought a surprising revelation about our romantic lives: we’re having way less casual sex than you may think. Research indicates that a large majority of young people are not hooking up regularly. In fact, about 85 per cent of millennials prefer other options to hooking up, such as as spending time with friends or having sex in a serious relationship. In the same vein, dating expert Jane Donovan observed in an Australian study that an increasing number of young people use Tinder to date seriously, rather than just hooking-up.

We’re having less casual sex. So what?

The myth of our rampant hook up culture has quite a number of negative consequences. The report by Harvard articulates that because of this myth, two major difficulties related to young peoples' romantic and sexual experiences are ignored. Firstly, it prevents significant preparation and education on developing and sustaining healthy, romantic relationships. Secondly, most adults appear to be doing shockingly little to effectively address pervasive misogyny and sexual harassment among teens and young adults.

According to the study, because we hold a reputation of hooking up on a regular basis, we are educated less about all-things sex. This creates an unhinged awkwardness around relationships, and a higher likelihood that issues such as sexual harassment won't be recognised and ultimately, tackled. Education and communication are the keys to fixing this misrepresentation of sex and eventually, making sexual violence a thing of the past. We need to learn to talk about relationships in more detail and realise that sex, while it is part of everyone's lives, still needs to be talked about in a constructive way. 

By debunking the myth that we as young people only want to hookup, and erasing this misconception that we are some kind of technology-crazed, pleasure-seeking race of humans - we might just help everyone out. We have to live more without a fear of sex or relationships; We need to have our hearts broken and break some hearts. We need to make mistakes, and experience what it is to truly care for someone in order to learn what makes human relationships so complicated, worthwhile, and amazing.

Javiera Lo-Loyola is a first-year Journalism/International Studies student at UTS who needs to take a deep breath after someone asks what she studies. She is a baller at heart who can touch the ring… when it's lowered.