Everything You Need To Know About Hooking Up In College

If you haven’t heard yet, “college hookup culture” has officially gone mainstream.  I, for one, realized that the concept of hooking up in college had reached the elderly echelons when one of my professors made us take a break in class to make us explain a New York Times article about hooking up that she had read recently. This was, you know, awkward, but it made for a class session that was super informative in a whole new way. 


Despite the amount of research certain publications have put into young people’s proclivity towards hooking up (ahem, The New York Times and The Atlantic), it can still seem somewhat mystifying when you’re heading off to college. Sure, there is hooking up in high school, but isn’t college different? Aren’t the guys and girls there so much older and wiser and more mature, and therefore better at hooking up? (Going to go ahead and answer that one right now–nope!) So, you know, you have questions, and we have answers. Here is everything you need to know about hooking up in college:

It's probably not actually the ONLY thing going on.

Despite what the newspaper articles your grandma literally clips out and mails to you say, hooking up is definitely not the only option. There are lots of people who want to date casually, date seriously, get married right after college, get married in college (I went to college in the south), etc. There are all sorts!

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There will be...mixed messages.

One thing about hooking up is that it sometimes leads to crossed wires. Aka communication issues. I.e. occasional major confusion in terms of expectations both in and out of the bedroom. To deal, just make sure you're clear on what YOU want so you can communicate it more easily.

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Don't do anything you don't feel comfortable with.

This almost goes without saying, but I felt like I should say it just in case. You are your own best gauge of what works for you and what doesn't. If you ever feel like you're out of control or anything, just firmly say "no" and exit the situation. It's totally your right to do so (and not as hard and scary as it sounds).

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At the same time, don't feel like you have to NOT do anything just because you feel like you shouldn't.

You're a free woman, girl! As long as you're being safe, never feel bad or hold back from anything that you genuinely want to do.

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Alcohol + sex = not as great as people say.

If you think you're going to go to some ~sick~ frat party, down some punch, and have the best hookup with the guy of your dreams, think again. First of all, don't drink the punch. Second, sex with alcohol involved is messy, sloppy, and there is always the off chance of puking in an unfamiliar bed. Yo, don't do it!

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Don't think about marriage when you're just hooking up with someone.

Perhaps your parents met in college, so you feel like you have to as well. Or maybe you've just been hearing wedding bells since you were two. Whatever the case, hold off on the Pinterest wedding board for now. If you're hooking up with someone and already have your future kids' names picked out (without your partner knowing), take a deeeeep breath. Marriage is fun to think about sometimes, but if you're seriously considering it without much basis, that's not healthy.

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Don't convince yourself you aren't emotionally invested just to stay close with the person you're hooking up with.

Sound familiar? It's easy to get involved in a friends with benefits or no strings attached-type arrangement, but sometimes emotions sneak up on you. If this happens, it's best just to cut it loose right away--if you find yourself wanting more, but not speaking up because you know your partner isn't as invested, this is about the worst thing you can do for yourself. Just make sure you keep thinking about what you actually want, not what you feel like you should want.

Image source:Roger Ebert

Know that you'll see some freaky stuff.

People are a lot weirder in bed than they seem when you first meet them. As long as you feel comfortable, embrace it! These stories make for some excellent brunch conversations with your friends the next day.

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Don't dress a certain way just to get with people.

My freshman year, I quickly became aware that there was a certain attire expected for girls when they went out. There were variations on the theme, but it couldn't deviate too much from this: tight black skirt, tank top, tons of makeup. I did it, but I HATED it. There's nothing inherently wrong with this outfit, of course, but I felt uncomfortable in it--mostly because I felt like girls were all dressing exactly alike to make some guy's selection easier. So, just dress however you want! Don't be too swayed by what everyone else is wearing.

Image source:iStock

Hookup culture actually makes it easier to be yourself.

One genuinely good thing about hooking up in college is that it's easier to be open about things that you felt like you couldn't be open about in high school. This applies to more things than just hooking up, obviously, but it's really freeing in that area too. Maybe you thought you were into guys, but now you want to try hooking up with girls. Maybe you thought you were into girls, but you want to try hooking up with guys. Or maybe you don't know! That's all totally fine.

Image source:iStock


Were you surprised about anything? What hookup advice would you give? Let us know in the comments below!

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