Hookup culture is a culture where casual sex encounters are embraced including no strings attached relationships, one night stands, booty calls, flings and other activities.
There is no romance, emotional attachment and a promise of a serious relationship.
It is highly ambiguous and there is no hard and fast definition on what is involved in a hookup.
It ranges from kissing, heavy petting to the extreme end of sex, including anal or oral intercourse, between multiple sex partners.
Hook up culture has been deemed as meaningless and casual sexual relationships.
The mushrooming of hookup apps from many corners of the world, makes it easier to get into the casual sex arena.
So, understanding and knowing how to deal with hookup culture have become more important than ever especially if it’s something you’ve been curious to explore.
Despite what some may think, hookup culture didn’t begin with the “Tinder hookup culture”, which some deemed to be the end of serious and meaningful relationships.
The culture today is simply an evolution of sexual norms and behavior from the past.
So, when did hookup culture start then?
It’s the byproduct of the seeds planted as early as the 1920s in the US.
During the city life at the time, young people could mix around without a chaperone or parent supervision.
The rise of automobile usage and entertainment venues made hookups more accessible and provided the perfect cover to have fun.
College then became more attainable for the more young Americans.
But it was put to halt by the Great Depression and World War II, where being young and carefree was not possible.
Most women at the time wanted something a more substantial and committed relationship after the death of young men, lost in the war.
Then the 1960s set in and the young wanted to remain open, carefree and unattached while experimenting with hookups.
The media has also played a role in documenting hookups in music, books, movies and TV series.
And because the culture became explosive over the years, many research papers have been done to study and learn more about it.
Let’s take a look at some important hookup culture statistics that we found from several research articles:
Lisa Wade on Hookup Culture & College Hookup Culture Statistics
Casual sex has become ingrained in college life and is not frowned upon anymore.
College hookup culture has even become part of the expectation of what you would be in for when you enrol with the existence of fraternities and sororities.
Lisa Wade has made it known that there are many factors reinforcing the hookup culture in college campuses including media portrayals of college life.
She has also said that her research suggests that hookup culture is a problem not because it promotes casual sex, but because people feel compelled to do it.
“Students who don’t hookup can end up being socially, isolated, while students who do not engage in this way are forced to operate by a dysfunctional set of rules,” she elaborated.
Enters peer pressure or putting pressure on their own self, thinking that everyone is doing it so they should too.
Dating hookup culture has changed over the years with how they’re hooking up with the emergence of dating apps.
Experiences and perception of it is highly subjective and that means it depends on the intentions that come with it.
Students have a choice to explore their sexuality on campuses and the choice is always theirs to say no.
Because the definition of hooking up is vague and doesn’t have one single definition in every community, the experience for teens may be different.
In teenage hookup culture, high school students may consider kissing as hookup while an undergraduate may say it means making out, oral or outright sex.
While there are some teens still keen to be in a committed relationship, there are some who are simply not into dating and prefer for things to remain light and easy.
According to WebMD, hooking up starts as early as the age of 12 and that includes heavy petting and oral sex.
This could be attributed to less attentive parents and the media portraying casual sex encounters on TV, social media and movies.
Believe it or not, gay hookup culture began way before Grindr.
Before gay hookup apps existed, gay men looked for other gay men in a gay bar or even on Craigslist Personals.
After Craigslist Personals left the arena, hookup apps like Grindr began to take centerstage and gave a platform for gay men to find each other without the usual exposure in heterosexual hookup apps.
Grindr has been regarded the epitome of digital casual sex among gay men.
As it has been celebrated for gay men to celebrate and explore their sexuality, many have argued that apps like Grindr have brought on some serious issues such as mental problems into the mix.
It has changed the game for gay dating landscape so much that that it has been touted “The Grindr Hookup Culture”.
This Youtube video by Powered by Rainbows has explained, quite eloquently, about why gay and lesbian people feel lonelier as well as why they’re falling for hookups more than their straight counterparts.
They have highlighted the true problem is the amount of time the apps are used, which is an average of 90 minutes per day and the majority of people there are definitely not finding love and instead, are seeking for one night stands.
The answer is due to loneliness brought about during the time between realising their sexuality and coming out to other people, before starting to date.
Their loneliness is then amplified after coming out as most of their friends have already settled down into a seemingly perfect life, while they are just starting to date.
With Grindr, rejection becomes more frequent than when they were in the closet.
When they get used to rejection, the easiest answer is to resort to finding sex when they can’t find love.
Gay psychiatrist, Jack Turban, has also spoke up about hookup apps providing men with only some short-term relief from anxiety and depression.
He also said such apps may also keep men from finding long-term relationships, as sex is made so accessible through a few taps on the phone.
Gay hookup apps has become almost like a window shopping of men, flashing their bodies across the screen and building attraction purely on that.
If you’re reading and feeling this speaks to you, it may be time to give hookup apps a rest and instead focus on building yourself while meeting people offline.
It won’t be easy but at the very least, you will emerge stronger and ready to find love if that is what you’re really looking for.
In the lesbian community, hooking up has been known as cruising.
It means going out specifically to look for casual sex with someone.
This was the start of the lesbian hookup culture, although it is hard to pinpoint when exactly it took off.
In today’s world, if you’re messaging someone on an app or at a bar with the intention of just having sex, that’s cruising.
Some places where lesbians used to cruise include, but not limited to, local gay bar, dance parties and BDSM parties.
Now, modern cruising is all done with the tip of our fingers via social media and dating apps such as Tinder and HER.
Interestingly enough, in a study by Minna Lyons of the Liverpool Hope University, 126 straight and lesbian women were recruited for a study on “gaydar”.
It concluded that straight and lesbian women did not differ on how much they desired, had prior experiences or accept when it comes to casual sex.
Some lesbian women sought hookups as a way of empowerment to be able to act on their desires and as a way to explore their sexuality.
Setting boundaries though, is really important if you’re planning to hookup.
If you’re a queer lady looking for casual sex and have some rules about it, communicate it to your sex partners including your desires.
But protecting yourself should always be your number one priority.
If lack of options in partners is holding you back, utilise apps like Tinder, HER or Lesly to get connected and don’t be shy about it!
US is not alone when it comes to hookup culture and other countries are forming their own, in their own ways, such as India.
The millennial generation here are looking for more casual sex and having a good time, rather than getting into relationships.
Highly populated, Delhi and Bombay are considered India’s two largest cities and are the hotspots to get a picture of Indian hookup culture
According to Edtimes, people in Delhi can easily indulge in dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble to meet people casually, versus going to the bars.
However, in Bombay, people usually hookup at bars and are seen as nothing out of the ordinary.
They are generally more open to the whole idea.
This could be attributed to Delhi’s street life not being deemed as safe and precautions are necessary to be taken to protect one’s self, while Mumbai is perceived as a safer city.
Japan is truly a fascinating country where cutting-edge technology coexists with its ancient tradition.
Japanese hookup culture is just the same, where both traditional and modern opinion on sex exist simultaneously.
Tokyo, Japan’s busy capital and has the largest metropolitan economy in the world, is known to be the best possible spot for hookups.
Culturally in Japan, having sex outside a relationship is not looked upon lightly and considered a taboo.
It didn’t help when online dating services in the 1990s were tainted with crimes involving female victims, such as murders and kidnapping.
This led to the government passing new regulations in 2003 to ban people below the age of 18 from accessing hookup sites.
The situation has since improved with authorities stepping up to bring down these crimes.
Now, there is a hike in online dating service users in Japan but it seems you may have better luck getting a hookup by strolling late at night in certain parts of Tokyo such as HUB bar, R2 and Rigaletto.
With the highest amount of single households in the world, the Swedish are pretty open when it comes to sex and have developed their own Swedish hookup culture.
More than half of them live alone and the legal sex age there is 15 compared to 16-18 in the US.
Even then, you’ll need to show a lot of affection, in order for them to spend time with you such as coffee and they do take time to warm up to you.
The women are known to flirt more openly if they like you and more upfront compared to the men.
A woman here is not judged by being open about their desires and hookups are nothing new to them.
With prostitution not being illegal, Bangkok has been well-known for its sex tourism.
But let’s be real.
Not everyone wants sex that way.
In Thailand’s hookup culture, there are extreme opposites of women there where you get the known sex workers but also those who value virginity.
There are some ladies there who are just genuinely looking for hookups and some have found luck using Tinder (once you weed out the ladyboys) or even their local ThaiCupid app.
A sexual behaviour research was done using the Online College Social Life Survey to compare White, Black, Latinx, East Asian and South Asian students on their sexual behaviour and their attitude about sex.
Asian students are the most conservative in their belief that sex requires love, among all of them.
Interestingly enough, Asian men had the lowest number of hookups in the study while South Asian women have low numbers of hookups.
We do have to point out that the research was done between 2005 to 2010 and things may have evolved since then as indicated by this article.
The article mentions more young men and women in China are more sex positive, more sexually active and more Chinese women are delaying marriage.
Despite coming from a more traditional background, the Asian hookup culture is also evolving as time passes by and hookup apps race to fill up the gaps in the dating scene.
This has been a long-standing debate between different experts as well as different parts of societies.
Those who are against it, are on the viewpoint that hookup culture has rundown the very meaning love and romance while promoting sex as a pacifier to cope with the realities of life.
Due to the lack of emotional intimacy, the body is used as a transaction to satisfy temporary needs and wants.
In an APA education article, hookup culture can have negative consequences including sexual violence, STIs, emotional and psychological impact as well as unplanned pregnancy.
In the same research, it found that in a sample of 1,468 college students, among the 429 students who had engaged in oral sex, anal sex or vaginal intercourse in their most recent hookup, only 46.6 percent reported using the rubber (Lewis et al., 2011).
This brings on a real concern on the disease risk, transmitted during sex with different partners.
With frat parties in college being a norm, a lot of college students hookup took place under the influence of alcohol or the use of drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine.
All that being said, the same research article mentioned in one study, among participants who were asked to describe the morning after a hookup, 82 percent of men and 57 percent of women were generally glad they had done it (Garcia & Reiber, 2008).
So, whether or not hookup culture is toxic depends on your intentions if hookups do fulfil your current desires, as well as necessary precautions are taken.
Can you accept only physical intimacy without any emotional aspects involved with someone whom you are sexually attracted to?
Can you differentiate between sex and love?
Be true to yourself and really ask yourself if you’re alright to hookup with no strings attached without expecting any serious relationship at the end of it.
Don’t fall into the trap of peer pressure as people may actually be talking more about it, than actually having one night stands with strangers.
While highlighting the disease risk from unprotected sex above, there are other dangers of hookup culture that you should know about.
Although a study above mentioned quite a number of men and women were glad they hooked up, there is another study of 138 Canadian females and 62 males who are university students, that differs in results.
The majority of them felt regret after a casual sexual encounter and the regret is attributed by the quality of sex.
If the sex was good, people rarely felt regret and women particularly felt more regret than men.
Alcohol and drugs was listed as a source of regret as well from both men and women.
Another study touched on the emotional consequences such as anxiety and depression, as well as low self-esteem and reduced life satisfaction.
Other than the health and emotional impact of hooking up, there is another aspect to consider, which is social relationships.
In the same study, it highlighted that hooking up can implicate a student’s reputation, especially females as they still face stigma, criticism and their reputation is affected after casual sex.
Hookup culture also plays a role in forming young people’s understanding of relationships.
In future, they may bring their hookup experiences and understanding into their married life.
Both men and women, who separate their emotions from sex due to hookups, may struggle in linking both of these in their marriages.
There are definitely the pros and cons of hookup culture that needs to be weighed.
So it’s best to know what you’re getting into if this is the ship you’ve decided to come onboard.
Hookup culture is a great way to go wild and experiment with your sexuality.
It also allows you to discover new ways to pleasure people and yourself, as well as discover if you have certain preferences.
2. No Obligations
Hookup is a touch and go situation where you’re not emotionally invested in the person.
If you’re young and not looking to get locked down, then hookups are great to satisfy your sexual desires, without the responsibilities that come with serious relationships.
3. Great Way to Evaluate Different Relationships
If you’ve been down the path of a committed relationship before and you’re curious if it’s really for you, hookups may help you figure it out.
It could just strengthen your desire to be with the same person day in, day out or it doesn’t.
One night stands could possibly even help you in meeting different people with different personalities and see what qualities you prefer and don’t in your next serious relationship.
1. Health Risks
Sexually transmitted diseases can be a huge problem in casual sex as you don’t know who they’ve been with.
So if safe sex is not followed through, both partners are putting themselves at risks.
2. Emotional Distress
Both men and women may discover they can’t handle the no emotions part of hookups and may develop romantic feelings for one another.
Some may even get attached as sex is something they may not be able to separate love and sex.
Self-esteem may also take a hit here when the no-strings-attached relationship ends due to the feeling of rejection.
3. Hookups Can Get Messy
Despite people raving about how great hookups are, it can get confusing due to its ambiguous definition.
Also if one of you catches feelings for one another, it can get pretty dramatic and some come out hurt and even heartbroken at the end of it.
So, do what you must to protect yourself and practice self-care first.
With the help of best and free hookup apps around, these are great Craiglist alternatives to find hookups near you or worldwide if you’re travelling.
If you’re one of those who types “hookups near me” on Google, you’ll find our list of apps super useful!
Some of the apps featured are more discreet about your identity and can get you matches real quick for both iPhone and Android users, keeping your privacy in check!
The secret to a great hookup is being safe and totally at ease with yourself during the experience.
While the jury is still out on how your next bed-hopping would fare, there are several things you can do to make sure you’re covered in case things don’t go as planned and making your hookups spicier!
This may suck out some of the fun out of your hookups but trust us, when we say this is seriously important.
It’s necessary to know if they have been recently tested especially when you know that they have multiple partners.
And of course, the same applies to you too.
Plus, if they get all sensitive about it, this offers a great glimpse of their character.
You don’t need to deal with immaturity at this point so RUN if they get offended!
Hooking up should be a mutually beneficial activity so both of you must give clear consent and should be your guiding pillar when it comes to casual sex.
You two should also agree on what is okay and not okay during your romp to avoid getting your wires crossed and ruin the fun unnecessarily!
While you may think you know what the other wants, it can often lead to a lot of misunderstandings, which could lead to unnecessary drama.
So, communicate clearly if you’re hooking up for the sheer fun of it with no commitments, or even clear the air about your relationship status if you’re in any.
Give them a chance to think about it and if they’re okay with it.
And if they’re not, let them have the chance to politely decline.
This may seem strange to you but this could help protect you from any dangers, especially if you’re meeting through a hookup app.
While it takes away a little mystery by looking at Google for a little help, you don’t want to end up sleeping with a person with a criminal past.
A little digital footprint can be great to weed out any creeps and those who are hesitant to share such details.
Do this and it can literally save you loads of trouble later.
Once both are agreeable to go under the sheets together, don’t be afraid of taking the lead in bed when it is clear both of you want it.
Your partner will probably thank you for it.
While it can be tempting to jump right into the sex, foreplay can make a difference in making your hookup pleasurable or a forgettable experience.
Eye contact, touch and going for the neck (yes!) can make the other go nuts.
Don’t go devouring each other’s faces although you’re all sexually fired up.
Most importantly, don’t shove your tongue into the person’s mouth the whole time.
Work up the mood and go for soft kisses first before bringing in any tongue action into the picture.
It’s almost like a dance as you feel the person’s rhythm and go with it.
Confidence plays a big role in the bedroom so don’t go apologising for how you have a little belly or about how small your package is.
Get in there with confidence as confidence is really sexy and it’ll be a huge turn for your partner.
Even if you’re in a hurry, don’t skip the shower.
How you smell could stink up the mood or make it real fun.
And last but not least, wash your hands if you’re planning to use your fingers down South each other.
For a healthy hookup, think long and hard by being honest with yourself about what you really want, before deciding to get hot and steamy with someone.
Consider the pros and cons we’ve listed above and decide for yourself if hookups are really for you.
If you’re in college, don’t hook up just because you think everyone is as people may actually just be talking more about it rather than actually doing it.
At the end of the day, you’re the one behind the wheel so you’re in complete control of what comes next!
Last updated: 6 January 2021
About the Author
Kelvin Kevin is the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Content Editor of the World-Renowned HappyMatches.com Dating App and Dating Site. An avid writer since young, he is an Expert Dating and Relationships Coach for Casual Dating, Serious Dating and General Dating. You can follow him on Twitter (@HowToDateBetter), and also check out his personal Dating Blog, for the latest Dating Advice and Dating Tips to help Straight, Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Singles and Couples find and enjoy Fulfilling and Intimate Dating Relationships.