She willingly agreed, secretly convinced that this would in time lead to a real relationship

She willingly agreed, secretly convinced that this would in time lead to a real relationship

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The Fourcast

[dropcap]A current senior at Hockaday, who agreed to speak under the alias Stephanie, had the biggest crush on a boy last year. However, he said he was not ready for a relationship but just wanted to hang out, to be friends with benefits. [/dropcap]

“I said okay, but the whole time I was thinking, ‘Well maybe now he’ll like me.’ I mistook physical affection for some underlying emotional affection as well,” she said, “which of course it wasn’t.” Stephanie soon discovered that he had a girlfriend, and she was devastated. Left with a shattered self-esteem, she experienced firsthand the effects of hookup culture.

Dr. Kathleen Bogle, author of the book “Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus,” said the hookup culture, in a large sense, is a result of women entering the workforce. “In the 1950s, men got married around age 22, and women got married around age 20, so they were using their high school and early college years to find ‘the one,’” Bogle said. “Now that people are marrying in their late 20s on average, they think they have all the time in the world to settle down, which paves the way for casual hookups in the meantime.”

With girls also facing pressures to focus on school and careers, the hookup culture has found its way onto college campuses and now high schools, making dating and long-term relationships an anomaly. The time commitment and expectations a relationship demands have become too much for many full-time students to handle.

According to Campus Explorer, 33 percent of college seniors have been on less than two “real” dates in their four years as a college student, though 72 percent of the students interviewed admitted to having had a one-night stand.

However, while the world views this new culture as having “no strings attached,” The Fourcast investigates the real-world implications it has for both girls and society.


[dropcap]Having just broken up with her boyfriend, a girl can resort to a quick hookup. Either to brag to their friends or maintain a reputation, girls can often seek quick self-esteem boosts in casual hookups. A freshman student, who agreed to speak under the alias Ruby, said that she has watched many of her friends go through this cycle. “They think that they can fill the void, and by hooking up they can make that go away,” she said. “It’s almost the opposite though.”[/dropcap]

In fact, many people emerge from physical relationships with lower self-esteem. In a January survey sent out to the Upper School, 49 percent of students said that they saw lower self-esteem as a negative consequence of the hookup culture.

Form IV Dean and Upper School Health teacher Rebekah Calhoun spoke to this concern, worrying about how this culture has impacted the way girls see their own self-worth. “[In the hookup culture] we are not requiring any effort even if for a short period of time from that person; there is no investment,” Calhoun said. “In this, I think we do ourselves and boys a disservice in saying that neither of us is worth the effort, and I think that’s a very problematic way for people to see themselves.”

Calhoun said that the problems in self-esteem stem from the fact that many girls were in pursuit of a real relationship before settling for just hookups. Stephanie can attest to that.

In 2011 alone, two movies came to theaters with the plotline of physical-only relationships: “Friends with Benefits” and “No Strings Attached.” In each, two friends agree to have an exclusively physical relationship before one inevitably falls for the other. The result? Heartbreak and chaos. These movies reinforce the point it is very difficult for humans to completely separate emotionality from physicality. “I do think as social beings we all have that need for belonging and love,” Calhoun said. “Every time we make a connection that maybe isn’t reciprocated, we start to question ourselves and what we did wrong, and I do think that can cause some sort of emotional turmoil.”

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