(U-WIRE) CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – OK maybe that opening is a little too Nietzche, but let me explain: I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point, hookups killed dating. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the term hookup, I offer a brief tutorial.
The definition of hookup is very ambiguous. This is intentional. It can mean anything from a make-out to sex. If someone says they hooked up last night, there’s no way of knowing if they got it on or made out in a corner. The rest is for you to assume.
How is this different from dating? Dating requires the art of conversation and awkward slow shifts from hugging to kissing and everything after. Hookups typically need only alcohol and a location. Even if both parties are seeking a hookup, alcohol is typically involved as it helps explain away potential blunders or the entire event in general.
“No I never do that, I was just really drunk.” Sure.
There are many reasons why people would prefer hookups:
1. If you’re not actually sure you want a significant other, hookups let you skip to the good stuff at a much faster pace. With dating, you need to find out where someone went to school 10 years ago and which modern novel they like best. With hookups, one hopes you exchange names and condom preferences (ex: her pleasure or extra lubricated?).
2. Hookups are cheaper than dates. Alcohol is an easy-to-get commodity that can be obtained either free at friend’s party or for very little money if you like drinking the undiluted urine known as Aristocrat. I feel the general trend with dates is to spend money. Either going to see a movie, which now costs as much as a tank of gas (OK not quite), or going to one of Charlottesville’s superb restaurants (which sometimes really does cost as much as a tank of gas). Anyone trapped in this way of thinking should consider that my best getting-to-know-you date involved grocery shopping. It’s true money was spent, but it was going to be anyway.
3. Hookups have an easy out. If you have a bad date, you may have to make polite excuses for a couple weeks or, worse, have a couple follow-up bad dates where you make a point to be uninteresting. If a hookup goes awry, the most you’ll ever have to deal with is three nonreturned calls. Two can be explained, three is making a point.
What does this have to do with dating? Dating is the space in between a hookup and actually being in a relationship. In the past, one could go on dates with several different people and it didn’t matter. My father once boasted of going on three dates in one day. Well done, Dad. Now, everyone I know is either in a long-term relationship, out hooking up or avoiding the opposite (or same) sex altogether.
To my parents’ generation, dating was a way to get to know someone. This, of course, still exists or there wouldn’t be any couples; but now, it’s slightly different. Typically, if your goal is a relationship, you either know the person somewhat well before going on a date or you hold off on the hookups until a relationship is reasonably assured. For relationship-oriented dates, I think there’s an expectation that you only date one person until you know if it’s worth a longer commitment.
When hookups can so easily take the place of relationships, there seems to be a collective assumption regarding dating. If I knew someone was going on multiple dates, I would probably assume he or she wasn’t looking for a relationship and was therefore hooking up with multiple people. Rarely, I feel, do we see dating as only dinner.