I read with interest a recent New York Times column about hooking up by Charles Blow. It's a topic I've opined on about before in the Daily News and is one of those pop culture trends I watch with fascination since I - ahem - am in the over-30 crowd and came of age in a time when people actually dated. Apparently, that's not how things tend to go now in this age of friends with benefits and hooking up. (For the record, hooking up is when you meet someone maybe at a party and have sex with them without there having been a prior romantic relationship. Friends with benefits is a term that refers to a non-romantic partner with whom you have sex.) If you ask me, it's not that people have forgotten how to date as is mentioned in Blow's piece. Instead, I think it's that the culture has gotten much more relaxed about sexuality. Here's an excerpt from Blow's piece:
It turns out that everything is the opposite of what I remember. Under the old model, you dated a few times and, if you really liked the person, you might consider having sex. Under the new model, you hook up a few times and, if you really like the person, you might consider going on a date.
Morality aside, the biggest problem I see with hooking up is the fact that a lot of females do it in the hope of getting a guy to like them. That's not just what I think. This was confirmed for me by Kathleen A. Bogle, a LaSalle University assistant professor and the author of "Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus" (New York University Press, 2008). In her book, she writes, "Most of the students indicated that college men favor casual sexual encounters or casual relationships, whereas women prefer more committed relationships. Therefore, while the hookup system works for men, it does not provide a good way for women to get what they want."
If it's not about what a woman wants, why even go there? And as I pointed out in a column earlier this year, this way of relating is not without risks:
And despite so-called modern attitudes, females still have to guard against being labeled a slut or promiscuous for engaging in the same activity the guys do if they cross some ill-defined line such as hooking up with two guys in the same fraternity. It's not fair but things haven't changed all that much. The double standard still exists, which is why hooking up is a dicey game to play.
If you ask me, for commitment-minded females, hooking up sounds a whole lot like going on an audition. If the encounter goes well, the guy calls back. If not, he just moves on to the next hook up. Hopefully with a condom or two in his wallet. Frankly, I like the old way of taking your time to get to know someone and finding out if a guy has any interest in a relationship before things proceed intimately. Then, at least you've got a better chance of knowing ahead of time what your STD risk might be - or whether he sees you as more than a booty call. What do you think? Is dating totally out of style?