Straight Talk Advice

Sep 22, 2010

Girls speak frankly about hook-up scene

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I counsel teens on college and career choices and have been learning about “hook-up” culture. I’m concerned that sexual activity, starting with girls as young as 11, does not include relationship. To be sexual today, kids don’t even need to exchange names. In college, many girls avoid commitment and just have sex so they don’t derail their ambitious career goals. I feel that sex without love, respect, emotional depth and some level of commitment, is damaging for girls — and possibly boys. Today’s scene seems warped toward pornography-inspired, emotionally-disconnected male fantasies. I worry that females taking part in this male sex play will suffer long-term emotional consequences — especially when told that it’s ‘no big deal.’ How do girls really feel about hooking up with strangers or friends just for sex? — Concerned Counselor

Rachel 19, Redlands, Calif. Ask me a question

Teens act out what they see as cool and sexy in pop culture. Hooking up is usually degrading, rarely ends well, and can be dangerous physically and emotionally. Girls have the basic female instinct of wanting to please. I recently examined my own hook-ups and realized that many times I didn’t want to be with that partner. I just wanted to be wanted. If that meant sleeping with the guy or living out his fantasy, I did. But looking back, never in these situations did I feel respected or even satisfied physically. Moreover, I usually never heard from the guy again. Whether the guy vanishes or returns when he’s horny, the relationship rarely develops into a partnership with emotional depth. Or worse, he’ll “always be with you” through an STI.

Katelyn 16, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

I don’t play the hook-up game. It only makes men continue to consider women play-objects, while women keep trying to be everything the billboards portray.

Delaney 19, Auburn, Calif. Ask me a question

This new scene definitely favors the male. It worked perfectly for my last hook-up — a childhood friend. He embellished and told half-truths, including that he loved me, which I ran with, never asking him to specify how he loved me. After giving myself to him, he told me he loved me more like a sister! Two months later, I still could cry, and the pain when he’s near is awful. Sexual intimacy is too powerful for a girl not to put her emotions into it. We think sex will lead to the big bad L.O.V.E., but having sex or hooking up doesn’t make the guy want a relationship. At the most you become “friends with benefits” which always ends in heartbreak.

Jessie 18, Eugene, Ore. Ask me a question

I’ve done the whole party hook-up thing and it’s never that great. Luckily, the guys were more than passing acquaintances and I knew they wouldn’t push me too far. Some of my girlfriends let themselves be pressured into sexual acts and they regret it. I recommend avoiding it entirely. You can still attend parties, just don’t do random hook-ups. Yes, it’s expected, but it doesn’t HAVE to be like that. I party with guy friends a lot without getting sexually involved.

DEAR CONCERNED: You heard it yourself. Hooking up leaves girls cold. (FYI to parents: “Hooking up” encompasses everything from kissing to intercourse.) Delaney’s description of “big bad L.O.V.E.” tells you how elusive and hatefully maddening finding love has become. Many young people have given up on it. What drives me crazy is that girls don’t realize they absolutely control the hook-up architecture with two words, “yes” and “no”. Boys find empty sex unsatisfying, too, and many tell me they wish sex wasn’t so easily obtainable. Girls: When boys act like they’ll die if you say no (or love you forever if you say yes), it’s just an act. Saying no is what will actually bring you the “big bad L.O.V.E.” Which you can then call good.

Editor’s Note: Girls: I’m serious about saying no. For those rolling their eyes because “nobody” says no anymore, humor me by doing it as an experiment. I know, with all the other girls saying yes, if you say no, you’re passed over. I understand the scene. Nonetheless, when a girl has boundaries, guys really find that sexy — and frankly they need you to do it. They’re not as equipped hormonally. You aren’t the first generation of women to have sexual freedom and ambitions, but in the past, most young couples worked to make love happen anyway, even if it wasn’t perfect. Your generation is carving out a niche in the forget-love-let’s-just-have-sex department, which is why women are so unhappy in this generation. If you want love (which everybody does — and if you don’t, your heart has been “hooked and released” too many times), then demand it and don’t have sex without proof of it (or stop having sex if you already are). Time is the biggest proof of love, that’s why saying no is important. Does he still want you when you say no? For how long? Demand other proofs too: Does he call you or try to see you every day? Or do you get a six-word text? Is there nobody else he loves or hooks-up with? Is he willing to get checked for STIs? Are you included in future plans? Please write and let me know how it goes when you say no. Love should be big, but not bad. —Lauren

  1. By M.C., age , from Sacramento, CA on 09/23/2010

    “Hook Up” sex should be avoided at all costs.  On a family vacation last summer, my sister and I had “hook up” sex in a foursome on the spur of the moment with 2 brothers in a neighboring cabin when our parents we’re off at a show that we weren’t interested in.  It seemed like a great idea at the time.  The guys we’re “hot” and live out of state and we were never going to see them again, so we thought it would be fun to “hook up” with them with no commitment.  Since nothing had been planned, nobody had protection, but we were both just beginning our cycles, so we didn’t think we would get pregnant.  We didn’t, but I think I’ve got some kind of STD.  I’ve had my sister look at it and she thinks it is too, but I don’t know how to get help without telling our parents.  It looks like she lucked out and didn’t get anything. The sex also just left both of us feeling like “cheap sluts.”  We’ve had long talks about this quietly in our room and agree that we made a huge mistake and will never do anything like this again.

    M.C.

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  2. By Sue, age , from Roseville, CA on 09/27/2010

    All of the responses appear to assume that hook up sex only involves a girl and a guy.  I am gay and it is just a common if not more common among gays.  I’ve gone to parties for gay girls where it turned out the the entire purpose was to “hook up” with somebody.  When all the bedrooms were full, many girls thought nothing about just stripping and doing it right out in the open with and in front of girls they had never even met before.  There was also usually lots of booze and pot and sometimes harder stuff involved.  After a couple of times, I realized that this wasn’t for me.  I think hook up sex is a bad thing whether you’re gay or straight based on my experience.

    Sue

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  3. By Lara, age , from Sacramento on 09/29/2010

    Saying no is not very hard, and in my experience has been much more satisfying than “friends with benefits” which only leads to (usually) the girl thinking it will turn into something more meaningful and the guy moving on before letting the girl know. In college saying no to sex has given me more respect, left the guys wanting me even more (and caring about me on a deeper level) given me more friends, and most importantly helped me grow into feeling confident in who I am without feeling some sort of lack, or insecurity in my life (which I think many people deal with by sleeping around).

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