In case you missed it, the nature of intimate relationships is changing. Over half of the people ages 18-34 are not involved in committed relationships, women are starting to have fewer children, 66% of people are OK with casual sex, and the median age for the average person’s first (and hopefully only) marriage is increasing. Is there something in the water?! Many of us can remember an age in which relationships seemed to be a top priority, but these days, it seems like the reality is anything but.
What is Hook-Up Culture?
For those who are sleeping under a rock (and most likely alone), hook-up culture is a term that describes a culture that encourages casual ‘hook-ups’ or sexual encounters, (and especially one-night-stands) without dating, emotional ties, or commitment involved. While there is no abundance of people who are proudly proclaiming membership to this sexed-up subculture by name, the abundance of songs, movies, shows promoting ‘hooking up’ is proof positive of just how prominent hook-up culture is. For instance, the popularity of shows such as Grown-ish and Schooled demonstrate that casual sex has very much become an accepted aspect of those who are teenage and older.
Are Relationships Dead?
Well, yes and no. On the one hand, there are approximately 49% of young people who, despite all widespread promotion of hook-up culture, are still (at least attempting to be) in committed relationships. However, the fact that approximately 51% of young people in this country are not involved in a relationship does not exactly portray us as the incredibly moral society we claim to be.
Nevertheless, to pretend that this is a new issue would be an absolute joke. While this culture was mostly hidden from the mainstream media and responsible adults alike, movies such as Kids (created in 1995) clearly show that there is nothing new about curious young people choosing casual sex over committed relationships. In fact, experts assert that there has been some form of hook-up culture for as far back as, at least, the 1920s!
So, What’s Really Going On?
To put it plainly, the world is becoming less judgmental and people of all ages, are feeling more emboldened to live in their sexual truth. So, rather than feeling pressured to pretend to be celibate or in committed relationships, people are openly embracing a part of the human existence that was forcibly subdued for many decades. Despite the fact that it may seem like people are hooking up more and shunning relationships altogether, what is actually happening is that people are now more comfortable exploring their sexuality without the fear of societal consequences.
Although people are starting to have fewer children and are getting married later in life, studies also show that marriages are lasting longer and families are actually being planned instead of forced. In short, while the media may be painting one narrative with regard to widespread sexual promiscuity, this is simply the result of what happens when we use sex education and contraception to replace shame and shotgun weddings.