What’s Dumb About Hooking Up? (Part II)

November 28, 2008


The Graduate

The Graduate

Benjamin: “Listen to me. What happened between me and Mrs. Robinson was nothing. It didn’t mean anything. We might just as well have been shaking hands.”

Mr. Robinson: “Shaking hands? Well, that’s not saying much for my wife, is it?”


Girls hook up for a variety of reasons. Before hooking up with anyone, you owe it to yourself to think about what you are looking for in the hookup, and whether the experience is likely to meet your needs. It’s important to examine your motivation and expectations up front to avoid feeling disappointed or regretful afterwards. For young women who would like to experience emotional intimacy with someone special, the most important (and discouraging) fact about hooking up is this:

Hooking up rarely leads to a relationship.

  • Research shows that only 12% of hookups turns into romantic relationships, and those last an average of four months. 
  • Half the college students who have reported having intercourse during a hookup never saw the person again. 


Girls looking for relationships hook up because they don’t see an alternative. No one is asking them (or anyone) out on dates. The girls they know who have boyfriends usually got there by hooking up first. If you are not looking for anything serious, then you can act impulsively and are far less likely to experience disappointment. But if you have a goal of being with someone in a relationship, it’s important that you manage the process strategically. Hooking up regularly with boys you don’t know means wasting a lot of time. That’s time you could be spending meeting the right boy.

When deciding to hook up, girls are often not being true to themselves.

Often girls hook up to get boys to pay attention to them, not because they want sex. They don’t really expect a relationship to come from it, but they don’t want to be left out of the social scene either. So girls run around pretending to be something they’re not, essentially acting out male fantasies. Girls kiss each other to turn guys on, dress like porn stars, and eagerly participate in theme parties that put men in positions of power, while the women serve as whores, e.g. CEOs and Office Hoes. And it’s fun. It makes us feel powerful to witness the effect we have on men. But if you don’t use that power wisely, you just wind up getting screwed in every way!

It’s important to understand how guys think. When a guy wants to hook up with you:

  • You feel desired, especially if he is hot. And he does desire you. At that point in time. Physical attraction makes the boy want to touch what he sees, and nothing more.
  • You feel singled out, chosen, special. But you need to understand that he feels that way about MANY girls. When it comes to hooking up, guys are really not that choosy, especially at closing time.
  • You feel powerful. But you cannot hook a guy with great sex. Both girls and guys say that girls use sex as a way to get and keep a guy’s love. And neither thinks it works.

Sex doesn’t make women fall in love either, but it does make them feel emotionally attached.

Women release the hormone oxytocin during times of intimacy, which is the same hormone that helps them bond with their babies during birth and breastfeeding. Men release oxytocin too, but testosterone tamps down its effect in guys.  He’s left feeling satisfied but not particularly attached, and you wind up fretting over some boy who may not be right for you anyway! You might not even like him much, but you wind up a prisoner to your own hormones.

Hookups often turn manipulative, guaranteeing a winner and a loser.

Hookups are often dishonest in the sense that both parties are vying for control. They both know someone’s bound to get rejected at some point, and neither one wants it to be them. So they both pretend they don’t care, eager to walk away first. Most often it’s the boy who is less invested so he walks, and the girl’s feelings are hurt. The whole dynamic has turned adversarial, which leaves girls feeling wary of boys and cynical about hooking up.

Make your own happiness your highest priority. Think about what you really want and need, and don’t do anything that won’t help you get it.  Next time we’ll talk about the quality (or lack thereof) of hookup sex.