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A generation X-er explains why everyone thinks hooking up is cool

Peer pressure at it's best
Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for MTV

Dear Cici,

I’d like hear your opinion on hook-up culture. Recently I've read several articles relating to how young people don’t invest their time in dates and instead hookup, which may or may not lead to a long-term relationship. I don’t hookup and I never have. I don’t judge how other people live but I don’t want to do it. (In my culture, the behavior is disrespectful to both parties.) I’m the only one of my friends without a man constantly in my life and sometimes this makes me feel like an alien. Maybe the impression is I want to marry the guy just because I slept with him but this is not true. I want to get to know him first. I've been single for years so maybe this is asking for too much.

I wonder how many other people out there have a similar experience. How do I deal with these cultural expectations when meeting someone new?

-Not into Hooking Up

Dear NIHU,

Let me start by saying I commend you for sticking to your beliefs and doing something different than most people your age. It takes a special person to stand alone and follow their path instead of following the trends of others. You asked me how I felt about hooking up and the culture that has been born around it. Well that’s a hard question to answer without exploring where hooking up came from.

The casualness of hooking up came from my generation, the X generation. My generation is less committed to one employer and more willing to change jobs to get ahead than previous generations. We adapt well to change and are tolerant of alternative lifestyles and we are ambitious and eager to learn new skills but want to accomplish things on our own terms. Unlike previous generations, members of Generation X work to live rather than live to work. We appreciate fun in the workplace and espouse a work hard/play hard mentality.

What all of that means is, we are open to new things and we hate to conform, hence the entire hook-up lifestyle. Because we don’t like authority and we want to do things so differently from our parents we decided that relationships were too much work with very little outcome. We based that on our parent’s relationships, we were the generation of kids who were referred to as “latch key” kids, meaning we came home to an empty house because our parent or parents were working. We were the first Generation to have parents’ divorce and it not be a shameful thing and the parents who stayed together were in loveless marriages and confiding all of their drama to us because they wanted to be different than their parents and actually talk to their kids. So because of all the drama we saw with our parents we decided to skip the relationship part and just do what feels good, sex feels good, so we delve into that lifestyle, never thinking of the consequences.

We never thought that our indulgent life would continue into the next generation with a vengeance. We never thought that a younger generation would look at our lives and want to emulate it, to the extent that your group has all without looking at what that lifestyle has done to us. We were the Sex and the City girls, we glamorized sex with random men and made everyone think this life was the life. It was, for a while, until it wasn't.

It took us a while to understand that we had the careers we wanted and all the sexual memories we could conjure at a moment’s notice but what we didn't have was a stable relationship. Unlike our parents who cultivated their relationships even though they sometimes fell apart, we didn't cultivate anything, except our sex life and yet we ended up with nothing but our memories. We spent so much time having sex we never learned how to make love. We don’t know what an infallible relationship is, we get married and divorced and married again and divorced again because we are aware things don’t last so we go into relationships knowing we have the option to divorce. We have a lot of children out of wedlock because we feel we can do better as one than as a unit because our parents were a unit and look at how screwed up we are so what’s the point.

As smart as my Generation is, we are pretty dumb when it comes to real issues. We haven’t shown or taught the subsequent Generations much and we complain about how these kids are disrespectful and don’t care about anything. Well what have we taught them?

So to answer your question, how I feel about hook-ups? I think when it comes to sex and sexual relationships, anyone considering allowing another person to invade their private spot and thoughts should think it through. I will never tell anyone what they can and cannot do, but I will tell you to consider everything before making a decision. Don’t just do what feels good at the moment, you have to know yourself better and think about how that great feeling can quickly turn into a feeling of shame and humiliation.

Stand your ground, if hooking up is not what you’re into then you stand steadfast to that. Your real friends would never make you feel bad about your choices and any guy you meet that does not share your beliefs or is at least understanding of your feelings is not the guy you want to spend time with. Most of your friends probably feel the same way you do but peer pressure and the need to fit in is sometimes stronger than most people can handle. You are on the right path because it’s the path less traveled and it’s the path that’s best for you.

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