Does Hooking Up Make Us Lonely?

NPR show “Morning Edition” explored a new a cultural phenomenon you may have heard of called “the hookup.” The hookup, the program explains to anyone living under a rock, is a social trend, born of the sexual revolution of the ‘60s and ‘70s, women’s growing independence, and online social networking. It started among high school and college students but is now popular with recent grads who have entered the workaday world. “Young people from high school on are so preoccupied with friends, getting an education and establishing themselves, they don’t make time for relationships,” so instead of concerning themselves with finding a mate, they’re far more interested in no-strings-attached sex. Naturally, people are having a field day arguing the potential benefits and detriments of hooking up.

On one side of the fence you have someone like Deborah Roffman, who “conducts human sexuality workshops for middle- and high-school-age students and their parents,” and says she sees the hookup as a traditionally male model of relating that girls have embraced in recent years but says she’d much rather see men developing greater capacity for intimacy. “Being able to engage in intimate relationships where men and women bring all of themselves to the relationship is the cornerstone of family,” Roffman says.  On the other side of the fence is 25-year-old college graduate, Elizabeth Welsh, who doesn’t think hooking up keeps people from developing the capacity to form bonds and relationships at all: “It is a common and easy mistake,” Welsh says, “to assume that the value of friendship and those relationship building blocks have no place in longer term relationships,” she says, arguing that the absence of a significant other in her life has given her time and energy to invest in building strong friendships instead.

Then you have people like 25-year-old, May Wilkerson, who says that hooking up via the internet and text messaging can be lonely: “What that means is that you have contact with many, many more people, but each of those relationships takes up a little bit less of your life. That fragmentation of the social world creates a lot of loneliness.” Still, she’s quick to defend the lifestyle, saying: “Sex is fun, and a lot of people would argue that it is a physical need. It’s a healthy activity.”

So, what do you think? Does hooking up somehow stunt our capacity to develop intimacy and fall in love? Or is it keeping us occupied and sexually satisfied until we’re ready to pursue an that kind of relationship? [via NPR]

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