A Look at Hook-up Culture and Love

Abstract: In this article, I will examine a chain of actions that happens in peoples’ lives and how this order of actions shapes the way that one views love in a hook-up culture. First, I look at teaching love at an early age. Then an examination of personal interpretation of love in early dating life. Later, I question how one must “fit” love in a predominantly hook-up culture. Lastly, after these chain of events, I will lead to a conclusion that a person will emulate the very hook-up culture they were taught to reject initially.


more dating appsDating is tough. If you have found yourself bouncing from lover to lover with nothing solid coming out of it, do not be afraid or insecure, you’re not alone. It is the fact of the dating age we are in now; passionate love has stepped aside and hook-up culture has taken center stage with the physical interactions that men and women experience with the ease and access of Grindr, Tinder, and other online “dating” apps. With these trivial and short-lived sexual encounters becoming the norm, one may ask themselves what came of love? Where did it go and how? Though I do not have all the answers, I do have a theory of events that people our age have experienced that could shine some light on the backstage of hook-up culture and give us a better idea of where the love has gone.

Teaching Love

Think back to when you were a child and remember how you were taught what love was. You probably learned something from your parent’s marriage, something about affection and promises from your grandparents, and something about innocence from your teachings in elementary. These things as a whole make a definition of love that is fit for a child’s understanding. This understanding is the foundation building blocks for our later understandings of love. A feature to notice here is that with these foundational building blocks of love are the beliefs we take into the dating world when we get older; these foundational beliefs about love, being something like promises, companionship, and innocence, are incompatible with common dating/sexual practices.

As people get into their early teens, they enter the dating world and the pivotal moment when they put these foundational beliefs about love to use. Some people joke about 13-14-year-old couples taking their young relationships too seriously but you can’t really blame them. When teens think about finding “the one”, everyone will be “the one” when their understanding of love is all that. It is them using only their foundational beliefs about love to practice what they think love is at that time.

As they get older, teens come to understand what sex is. Its infectious, one kid learns about sex and he tells all his friends about sex. Then they start telling their friends about sex, which tell their friends about sex. Next thing you know, these young adults learn about sex and for some reason they think they should be having it. It is the beginning of their understanding of the hook-up culture. What occurs is that the teenage group-think about love is something where there is heavy companionship that sex fits into.

Hook-up culture brings along an assortment of beliefs contrasting from our foundational beliefs about love. The culture’s practices are ideas of non-monogamy, hedonistic pro-sexual tendencies, and essentially, an abandonment of those foundational beliefs about love. Hook-up culture involves the fast-paced nature of online dating and the normalization of “one-night stands”. These practices ensue beliefs that are just incompatible with our foundational beliefs about love and after some time, these beliefs are at ends.

Beliefs at Ends

When these our foundational beliefs of love are at ends with the beliefs of hook-up culture, one must choose which beliefs to uphold. Some people choose the foundational beliefs and not partake in hook-up culture, that is fine. But sex and hook-up culture are all around us, and to fit a world-to-mind view, one would accept that hook-up culture norms are the way to go. I would say this transition is a belief like “if everyone else is doing it, I should to”. With this adoption of hook-up culture, taking part in the online dating and fast-paced nature of the world, people then are solidifying new beliefs about sex and love through practice. These new beliefs are focused upon the self instead of focusing on someone else. You are not trying to create strong bonds with your sexual partners but instead focusing on your own happiness and mutual happiness both parties get from the act. Hook-up culture does not destroy our conceptualization of love but I believe that it mutates it.

imagesPeople like the idea of love. The need for companionship is within our very human nature. Some people within hook-up culture try to suffice this need by focusing on their platonic friends, but others do not want to fully abandon their beliefs about love because of hook-culture. It would be irrational to do so and would presume some whole dichotomy between sex and love. These people still hold onto the belief that love can exist within hook-up culture. It does, but not in the way that foundational beliefs about love had it. The important thing is whereas it used to be companionship with sex fitting into it; it is now sex trying to fit companionship into it and if companionship upheld as many beliefs as it did, then one must condense these foundational beliefs or else they be at ends again. So, our belief of love becomes mutated from its origin.

Playing the Part

Now that one has created this new idea of love that is compatible with hook-up culture, they partake in the practices that emulate the very nature of their new love. They will meet people who still uphold foundational beliefs about love and they will, unwillingly, be the aid that helps that person adopt the beliefs of hook-up culture. Like the teenagers learning about sex, young adults will manifest the beliefs and practices of hook-up culture and influence their friends, which will influence their friends and so on. They will partake in something that they were so against in their younger years, thus creating a chain that reinforces the culture’s survival.

One could say that hook-up culture is more self-taught with the creation of pornography that is so easily accessible in the technology age. Though this may seem reasonable, it comes with some added features. The first is that pornography is common for teaching people what sex is like and not what a culture about sex is. Here would take an approach that looks at pornography as an educational tool. If it is an educational tool, the beliefs that are “taught” would be beliefs about sex that reflect the beliefs of the porn industry, i.e., sex as a violent phenomenon. Besides the slimming existence of rape culture, I don’t think pornography as the cause of hook-up culture and therefore the loss of love would be a confident response to the theory constructed here. It would be better to say that porn is one of the many factors one learns but not the root cause.

Final Notes

I would like to remind the reader that this is just a theory gathered from my own individual experiences and those I discussed this topic with. From discussions I’ve had with people, many are quick to say that hook-up culture has changed love but no one seems to have many answers as to why. The purpose of this article was to shed light on a generic concern about the topic of love within hook-up culture. Though it may not hit the nail head on, hopefully this instead, allows an outlet for one to broaden outlets of their own when they think about companionship in the age of online dating.


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