Hookup Culture Leaves Me Feeling Empty


Can someone please explain to me how things operate in hookup culture? I’ve been living in this delusional reality that men should take women on dates and get to know them prior to trying to have sex with them. Did I spend too much time watching unrealistic Hollywood movies in high school? What the hell happened to my overly dramatic kiss in the rain? Where are my handwritten letters? Why am I always questioning a man’s intentions when he says and does kind things for me?

I’m 22 years old and have yet to call someone my boyfriend. Granted, I have had relationships…I guess? My most recent was a five-month whirlwind of intense first-love feelings and confusion about “what we were” with a man who piled on compliments, dinner dates, and late-night texts filled with “I miss you,” “You’re too amazing,” and “I don’t deserve you.” I was hooked—hook, line, and sinker hooked—having spent the first three years of my college career searching for a good man to call my boyfriend. I wanted someone to stay in with on a Friday night and watch Netflix, a man to hold me and laugh with me and have adventures with me. I thought I found him.

But he wasn’t it, and he devastated me when he left. I was in love with someone who didn’t care for me as much as I cared for him, couldn’t see a future with me, and couldn’t ever see himself telling me he loved me. I didn’t guess those things; they were told to me during a beautifully impersonal breakup phone call.

After months of telling me everything I wanted to hear, telling me I’d make a great mother and talking about “our” future (in which we both were going to settle down overseas), I was abruptly left and consequently replaced by another girl a few months later. They’d been dating less than a month but with a quick glance at her Instagram, I got a painful and bittersweet confirmation that he was saying the same things to her. “He told me I’d make a great mother someday.” “My babe is amazing, he holds the door for me…” Blah blah blah, she’s hooked, already claiming she’s in love and how she has a new best friend.

I’ve spent my summer dating around, crying my eyes out over my ex, and scouring the dregs of Tinder for a man who isn’t a completely horrible sex-driven monkey. Most importantly I’ve been learning about myself and others. I see two classes of men: those who want an easy lay and those (like my ex) that need to be in a relationship. There seems to be very little middle ground, and I blame the hookup culture.

Men don’t want to commit to a woman when they are in their 20s. I understand. I get it. I’m in the same mindset until I’m sitting alone in a movie theatre or driving home alone at night. Then it hits me how absolutely lonely I feel, how empty my hand feels not holding someone else’s, and just how big my bed feels at 2AM when I can’t sleep. But I don’t understand the point of sleeping with someone just to sleep with them. Yes, sex is fun—it’s GREAT—but it’s not the be-all, end-all of life.

I’ve met a few men this summer that I’ve gone on dates with, that I’ve “hooked up” with, and thankfully I don’t regret it. Throw your double standards around; I couldn’t care less. Where men would get high-fives for this behavior, women receive derogatory name-calling. I’ve made the mistake of confusing sex for feelings with men, but men are incredibly capable of facilitating that confusion. One guy that I’ve spent time with (when he’s in town and it’s convenient for him) demands a goodnight kiss when I leave, and the last time we got together he was upset that I didn’t kiss him hello.

Well, HELLO, but we are not dating!

So I’d love an explanation as to why some men are so hell-bent on relationships, having someone to fawn over and talk about children with (even when they’ve no intention of having those children with that woman), while other men think it’s perfectly acceptable to put a woman in a grey area where she spends her time guessing what’s going on. I’d love some guidelines so I could understand what to expect if it’s strictly just hooking up.

But mainly I would love to start every conversation with a potential love interest like this:

Hi, I’m looking for a relationship. I’m not looking for an unsatisfactory sexual experience in which you spend five minutes whining about having to use a condom and then consequentially kick me out of your house afterwards because you have to go to the gym. Also, I’d prefer you talk to me frequently enough that I know you’re actually interested. Please do not just text me when you’re bored and can’t find someone else to try to f*ck.

I’m tired of the hookup culture. I don’t want to have to guess whether a guy actually likes me or merely likes the chase. I want to date a man who isn’t just looking for a relationship for the sake of staving his loneliness. I’m looking for the real deal because I’ve a lot to give and I’m tired of giving too much of myself to men who are looking for a no-heartstrings-attached arrangement.