Student Voice


February 2, 2023



Ask Colleen: Escaping hookup culture

February 22, 2017

Hey Colleen,  

So far I have been having bad luck with guys. I'm old fashioned when it comes to dating. I get attached easily, so I don't like the hookup culture that surrounds me on the university. How do I get past this? Please, help!

An Old Soul

An Old Soul,

This is such an important question, and brings to light many of the societal pressures young adults feel while dating. It’s like there is this pressure to be in a relationship and also at the same time be single and experience college. Overall, it’s just confusing, but there is no right or wrong way to date.

When surrounded by others who are immersed in this hookup style of dating, it’s hard not to fall into it yourself or feel peer pressure to make that your own style of dating. Also, can someone please clarify to me what “hooking up” means? I feel like I have heard so many different variations starting all the way back to elementary school.

I read an article in my freshmen English class comparing today’s dating culture and the dating culture in the 1950’s. Let me just tell you, I really evaluated my own standards of dating. I don’t mean this in a negative way at all.

In today’s society we don’t start relationships like our grandparents did. With social media, we can find out everything we want to know by looking at someone’s Facebook, Instagram, Tinder or Twitter. All this information almost takes away the fun of dating. Isn’t the point to go on dates to find out more about the other person?

By making that information so easily accessible, we are already making judgments and don’t allow ourselves to experience that person in real life. Not on a screen, but for who they are. Having conversations face-to-face and not over text. But with how our society has advanced, it only makes sense that the dating culture would, too. I think the core principles of dating are the same; I just think they are hidden under the pressures of society and technology.

I am in the same boat as you: I am definitely old fashioned when it comes to dating. Although it may seem like everyone around you is into the hookup culture, I know that is not true. Not everyone on campus is into this type of dating; you may have just not met people who are old fashioned like you. But trust me, they exist on campus, so don’t worry. You’ll find them. I think what is important is that you know yourself and understand that you get attached easily, so this type of dating doesn’t work for you. Don’t feel like you need to settle into the hookup culture either, because you don’t.

You asked, “How do I get past this?” and the answer is you don’t. The hookup culture exists and is very present on a college campus. Don’t get over it; just move find your own niche. I would recommend looking for potential suitors in environments that you typically don’t put yourself in. That means stepping away from the house parties and bars that you are used to going to. Go to events that YOU are interested in, not your friends.

Plus, you’re going to want to meet someone with similar interests as you, right? It’s not easy, but I would suggest going alone. When you’re alone, I feel like it is so much easier to have people approach you, rather when you are with a group of friends. Regardless, you are bound to meet new people even if it is just a new friend.

The hookup culture definitely doesn’t need to be your reality. It’s easier said than done, but put yourself out there in environments that are outside of your comfort zone. This is so cliché, but you will find someone who values the same dating style as yourself. It may take some time and a little courage on your side.



Colleen Brown is a student at UW-River Falls.