Commentary the Rise of Hooking up on College Campuses and the Decline of Dating

It’s been a long time since this author was a college student. In fact, you’d have to go back some three decades. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed in those 30 years. Just as today, many students bypassed the traditional dating practices of earlier generations and simply hooked up with whoever was convenient for the purpose of mutual fun. Translation? Casual sex.

When taking the sexual revolution of the 1960s into consideration, one can readily assume that the groundwork of the typical student’s primary mission of getting laid was already set into place as far back as 40 years ago. As we fast-forward to 2010, this mindset continues to remain constant. To be fair; however, the liberated values that stemmed from the decade of Peace and Love only paint part of the figurative picture, for college is intended to prepare one for a lifetime career; and as such, a student’s workload will oftentimes leave little or no time for serious dating. But if the opportunity to get lucky presents itself, a hormone-driven student in the prime of life will rarely turn it down.

Unfortunately, I was a very shy, introverted 21-year-old. Several months passed before I finally shed the insecurity and started acquiring friends. In retrospect, it would have been nice to emerge from that shell of low self-esteem at an earlier age so I could have participated in the fun, so to speak.

Despite the fact that I am now a middle-aged guy with graying hair, a larger waist, a wife of 22 years, and the father of a teenaged daughter, I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I now envy those who partake of this carefree lifestyle. They can enjoy a variety of encounters and are free to fulfill these most basic of biological needs whenever the notion strikes. Conversely, a person in my position cannot. On many occasions, one will hear someone of my age say, “If I knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently.”

Well, this happens to very true in my particular case. Are such thoughts the telltale signs of a midlife crisis? You decide, for at 51, this means that I’d have to live to be 102!

However you slice it, I have touched on this theory in other writings. I firmly believe that the younger generations; particularly those presently in colleges and universities who routinely lead carefree, sexually-active lifestyles have indeed stumbled onto something that will eventually displace the traditional path of sowing one’s wild oats and then settling down to raise a family.

People as a whole still more or less try to follow this road, but look at the divorce rates. About half of those who enter into marriage will eventually split up. Of course, there can be many reasons this happens, but it ultimately comes down to one thing: They simply get burned out with their significant other. In the end, a common theme prevails: The concept of monogamy serves as a benchmark for morality and has done so for centuries. But in the end, it’s boring.

Those who divorce miss the variety of multiple sexual partners and thus the excitement of enjoying something fresh and unique with each new experience. This one’s for the guys out there, but answer this question honestly: When you surf porn, don’t you get tired of seeing the same images over and over on website after website for five years straight? Is this not a bit like watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island?

And let’s consider the eradication of perhaps the most needless human emotion that exists. I refer to jealousy. Imagine for a moment a world in which we could share our bodies and release our biological urges freely with whoever was convenient at a given time. Certainly, such a society would serve as the antithesis of religious teachings. Indeed, many would cringe at such a thought. But what if such practices became the norm? It stands to reason that the very definition of morality would likewise have to evolve. The current “friends with benefits” trend fits this mold and is strongly suggestive of such a direction.

College students or not, the younger generations will determine what lies ahead in regard to what is construed as acceptable behavior. The rise in incidents of simply hooking up with partners for the moment as opposed to traditional dating among the more educated can no longer be ignored or dismissed as a passing fad. As noted earlier, the change has already been in place for over 40 years.

Are we in the midst of a widespread cultural metamorphosis that will change our very philosophy? Time will tell.