Breaking Not At All Breaking In Any Way: Guys Want Hookups, Girls Want to Date, Geriatric Pillowfight Ensues
"I thought I told you 'No more hooking up without commitment,' you old-ass motherfucker! ... My oxytocin is acting up again."
An adorable senior at Columbia rang me the other month to ask a few questions about "hooking up" for an article she was writing. Big mistake; I'm difficult to silence after I launch into the subject. After listening to me ramble for what must have been at least an hour (the poor thing) she actually managed to derive something mildly coherent out of the mess. Impressive.
Here's the result: How the Hookup Changed Since 1969, by Jennie Morgan
Although I highly encourage you to read the engaging and well-researched article in its entirety, I'll paste the excerpt in which I was quoted below:
Today's dating process has given rise to a great deal of confusion regarding the difference between a relationship and a sexual encounter. Judging from the phenomenal success of blunt self-help literature (The Rules, by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, and He's Just Not That Into You, by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tucillo), much of the confusion is apparently felt by women. For the most part, the aforementioned manuals advise a return to the courtship rituals that flourished in America between 1920 and 1965 (dinner dates, playing hard to get), which relied on the belief that a man who is offered sexual intimacy too quickly loses respect for a woman.Mmm. Vegas.
"Girls think, 'I can hook up with a guy and care just as little about it as he does,' but they try that, and realize it's not biologically possible to feel that way." said Julia Allison, a sex columnist for AM New York and formerly The Hoya at Georgetown University, who is a proponent of old-school dating. Before graduating in 2004, Allison took a year off from college to work full-time on Capitol Hill.
"That's how my column in the Georgetown paper came to be," she said. "When I was in the working world, I saw something I had never seen on campus - men courting women. When I went back to college, my friends all said, 'The most a guy can do is get you a beer from the keg.' I said, 'That's the most he can do if that's the most you ask of him.'"
Allison cited a discovery by Sue Carter of the University of Illinois: the hormone oxytocin, which bonds sexual partners to one another, exists in much higher quantities in a woman's brain than in a man's. "Women feel like crap that the guy is blase about this casual hookup, even though they may have been blase about it too at the beginning," she said. "There is a discrepancy between theory and practice."
Despite the lack of documented evidence on today's trends, it's undisputed that young men and women in the present are as intimate physically as they have ever been. Still, observers have noted that this physical closeness has failed to inspire greater emotional commitment.
The reasons for the departure from emotional free love toward emotionally detached hook-ups are varied. Most obviously, the free-loving '60s have been presented to our generation uncritically. In the mainstream media, we've seen Austin Powers shag happy-go-lucky girls and been charmed by scores of Bond women. Through the lens of the Hollywood camera, free love looks fun rather than awkward. Furthermore, because our generation was raised by parents who made casual sex commonplace in their youth, current students may lack a parental model for formal dating. Allison added that "most girls only have friends who hookup or don't date at all, so they've never seen anything else that can work."
"There are dozens of stories about hookups turning into relationships," she added, "but it's a crapshoot. There are also dozens of stories about people winning in Vegas."