Why Hooking Up Is Like Fast Food


I’ve never had an orgasm during any casual hookup (sorry). Part of it is unconscious and part of it’s a conscious self defense mechanism. Biologically, women have oxytocin flooding their brains during sex and even more during an orgasm to encourage pair-bonding. It’s said that orgasms for women are harder to achieve because they require dedication, care and patience. Whoever can really make a woman orgasm has the qualities of a worthwhile life partner. They’re someone who will stick around and provide for the family.

Once an intimate activity meant to continue human kind, sex is often reduced to nothing more than a temporary fix for a carnal and hedonistic urge. Apps like Tinder make this type of “intimacy” even more accessible. You meet up, you hook up, you go your separate ways- gone are the days of dealing with people’s needs and baggage.

There’s that sweet high that comes with meeting someone new and indulging in an ephemeral, physical dalliance. At once we feel our physical needs met and our self worth reassured. We revel in the meaninglessness of these encounters. They’re like fast food — always hitting the spot just when we need them to like that slice of $1 pizza after a late night of drinking.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that it all adds up. Quarters only take up excess space in the corner of your pocket or purse until you start putting them in a jar and realize you have $100 dollars after a few weeks. Though the emotional and time investment is small for each hookup, we’re actually spending a great deal of our lives pursuing something that isn’t real. Do we grow from these experiences, or enrich our lives? Probably not. The sex is cheap. There’s no way it can feel half as good as that blissful, connected, transcendent sex you get when you’re in love.

What I’ve come to learn is that a connection is multi-dimensional. You can have a strong emotional connection, physical connection, psychic connection, or mental connections or any combination of the four. In some rare instances you can have all. With a hookup, it’s usually none of these things except just the physical motions. But there’s a pride we all take in knowing that we can detach.

I’ve seen a lot of guys treat hookups as their main source of self-esteem. When men conquer women, it’s a bragging right. These men not only get a high when they hook up with a girl, but they also get a pat on the back and admiration from their friends. No wonder some of the most insecure men I’ve met rely on this to feel good about themselves. I’ve seen them become so dependent on this reassurance that their lives slowly disintegrate and the emptiness they feel heightens. This emptiness then seeks more approval through indiscriminately hooking up with girls, and the cycle continues and worsens. I’ve seen this happen to women as well since more and more women see casual sex as an empowering choice although there’s still an aspect of slut-shaming residual in our cultural lens.

My parents have only ever dated each other. My dad fell in love with my mom in the 3rd grade and chased her relentlessly until they were married in their 20s. I am their symbol of commitment and devotion. It’s no wonder hook-up culture seems counterintuitive to me. Although I admittedly tried to partake in it out of social pressure and as a challenge to see whether I could be withholding and avoid ant in college after a bad breakup (in other words, what we understand as emotionally strong nowadays), I realized I just couldn’t.

The person who gets attached first loses the game. What do we win? Notches on our belt? Putting ourselves at more risk of STDs? Driving away that one person that we actually want to be with? The knowledge that we can suppress our emotions?

Please note that I don’t mean we have to be monogamous. I think casual things are fine, I fully support open relationships and polyamory. I think human connection is a strange and beautiful thing. The ability to feel that palpable, and indefinable chemistry with someone is at once rare and singular. I understand we all have physical needs, but when these intrinsic needs are channeled as something else, we usually involve a level of self-discipline. For example, think about hunger. We feel this multiple times a day and as we grow, train ourselves to eat healthy foods instead of the foods we crave that are high in sugar, fat and carbs. The same should go for sex. We should only choose the highest quality over quantity- we owe this to ourselves.

There’s a strength in being able to discern what’s real and what’s fake. Just because your acquaintances pat you on the back for hooking up with that hot girl you had nothing in common with and secretly despise spending time with doesn’t mean they’re looking out for your best interest. The strong person knows that it’s not about how many people we can remain indifferent to, but it’s the ones we allow ourselves to be truly vulnerable that heightens our existence. What’s understood as cool and relevant was never in our nature.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that the slow but sure evolution of a genuine connection is much more fruitful than having shallow connections with a lot of different people. People are complex, and there’s not enough time in the world to know the inner workings of even one person. New York is notoriously hard for dating- 40% of the dating pool are avoid ant types, the ones that want to sleep around casually without commitment and are turned off by the slightest sign of emotions. These people are weak, from a biological standpoint. Biologically, our one goal is to continue our lineage by starting a family and committing to it, and most of these people never will.

It doesn’t matter how many people pat you on the back at the end of the day. It’s whether or not you can respect yourself to give you the things that you really desire, like love, that really matters. When you’re playing the game, you’re only trying to convince someone else to find you more valuable because you don’t believe you have a lot to offer. Find out what you really want and need and realize it’s okay to be honest to yourself about it.

featured image – Adam Wilson