I’m writing this post because going to London really opened my eyes and changed my perspective on a lot of things—the biggest change being how I view the millennial generation in terms of relationships and the norm of hooking up.

Primed Perceptions
Growing up as a millennial has really taken a toll on the events that have occurred during my high school and college life, as well as the start of my 20s so far. Like most children, my biggest influencers were my parents. Clearly they come from a completely different generation than millennials, but I always took into account what I learned from them and the things they taught me. I always give people the benefit of the doubt, I’m extremely sympathetic, and I wear my heart on my sleeve.

Throughout high school, as my friends were adapting to the culture as millennials, I felt at war with myself and with my friends because I didn’t want to give in. By giving in, I would feel like I was doing the wrong things and going against everything I had believed in, and everything that my parents had taught me. My friends would call me a “goodie-good” and innocent because I’d always follow the rules and do what I was told. I always felt a sense of guilt whenever I gave in, or attempted to give in, to the things my friends were doing. I realize now that it wasn’t because I was a “goodie-good," it was because my parents taught me things the way they were as they were growing up, but obviously times have changed since then. Examples of things my friends would ask me to do with them that I never went through with: skipping school just for fun to go out and do something else (excluding senior skip day) and underage drinking/partying during our senior year. I was against all of it. Things that didn’t have a direct effect on me that I was still opposed to included: girls having significantly older boyfriends, and girls sleeping around with multiple guys at a time. My friends saw all of this as the norm, but I didn’t. I saw it as breaking the rules.

First Experiences
As college began, I started to let go of some things—I had my first serious relationship, and everything was okay. I was still against partying, underage drinking and the use of drugs. However, I began to attempt to understand the hookup culture. In college, it seems like that’s what everyone cares about—granted it’s probably not everyone, but it’s most people, or at least it appears to be. If you were to step foot into the social scene any large university, that’s the vibe it gives off.

I had been through two serious relationship pretty close to one another, so I haven’t been single for a long period of time. I was basically in a relationship from June 2013 to January 2016, with my first relationship ending the summer of 2014.

The period between my two relationships was anything but a grace period. I had been deceived, unwillingly intoxicated, and raped. Rape is sexual assault, sexual intercourse, without consent. I did not have that bad of an experience when compared to stories that I’ve read online. At the time, people still saw me as “innocent” and a “goodie-good.” It all happened so quickly, and to simply put it, I was taken advantage of. This is something I would never wish upon anyone to go through because it is wrong, it can be traumatizing, and it can change someone’s life for the worst. I won’t go into details, but from that night on, I had a hard time trusting guys, and always kept my guard up. The worst part about it was that the guy tried to keep in contact with me after that night, but I shut him out and never spoke to him again.

My most recent ex and I ended our relationship while I had just started living in London. I had no friends at my school, and I didn’t know anyone in my study abroad program except for my roommates and floor mates, but we weren’t super close or anything. I literally had no friends. I was never used to being alone because I had always either been surrounded by my closest friends or my boyfriend. I never liked being alone anyway, because I’m the type of person who needs someone to talk to at the most random times.
At this point, I’m still against the use of drugs and I’m not into partying, but the legal drinking age in the United Kingdom is 18. Drinking in London was something that I knew wouldn’t phase me because it was legal, so that made it okay. And yes, I did drink quite frequently when I was there, and I had no problems at all. It wasn’t until coming back to America that made me feel uneasy about it because it was technically illegal, but that’s not the point.

I brought up alcohol because that was how I met people. As crazy as it sounds, I had no choice but to resort to Tinder. Before I end up getting judged because of the bad reputation that Tinder has, I used it with caution. At first, I solely used it to befriend students from a university that my school was affiliated with. As time passed on, I met quite a few people who literally had the biggest influence on my perspectives and understanding of the hookup culture. Because alcohol consumption was legal over there, the dates I went on consisted of talking and getting to know each other over a few drinks, which made everything less awkward and more bearable, to be completely honest.

My mission to make friends off of Tinder was both a success and a failure. I made two solid friends from the affiliated university, and I still talk to them to this day. However, other meet ups didn’t go as I had expected them to, and there were a couple times that I wish I could’ve taken back in the moment. Now, looking back at everything that had happened, I wouldn’t change any experience I had, or else I wouldn't have met the people I did along the way. Everything happened for a reason.

Using Tinder turned an innocent friend-hunt to me experimenting with the hookup culture for the sake of understanding it. Being a psychology student, I want to know why things happen the way they do and why people do things the way they do. I just want to make it clear that I am not slutting around just to slut around. Although “slutting around” sounds extremely derogatory, I will admit that I did take a chance on the hookup culture to understand exactly why.

The Hookup Culture
* Names have been changed to protect the people’s identity.

Part I
Justin* was the first guy I experienced a hookup and a one-night-stand with. He attended the affiliated university. We had started talking when my relationship ended, and one of the first things he told me was that he was not the type of person to chase a girl who has a boyfriend, etc. He was a genuinely sweet and nice guy, but I felt extremely rushed—everything happened so quickly, and I didn’t get a chance to think about what I was getting myself into. In the moment, he asked if everything was okay, and I stupidly said yes, because I felt like it was wrong to tell him that I needed to think about it. I now realize that I should’ve said something if I felt uncomfortable, but everything turned out to be somewhat okay in the end. We continued talking for a couple weeks, and he asked if I wanted to be friends with benefits. I had always hated the term because no matter what happens, one person will feel more strongly about the other. Unfortunately in this case, I was the one who developed crush-like feelings towards him because I had never experienced something like that before, and my emotions got the best of me. It got to the point where I didn’t want anything to do with him anymore so I ghosted him. He would text me once a week asking how I was doing, how my internship was going, and told me to feel better when I had gotten sick, but I did not answer any of his texts. I had no idea that I was “ghosting” Justin until it actually happened to me a month later.

Michael* was my next friend, or so I thought. This relationship was not romantic or sexual in any way, it was actually an anomaly in my findings. He also attended the affiliated university. The first time we met, we went out for dinner, and we literally talked nonstop for almost 4 hours. Our waiter didn’t even want to approach our table because he didn’t want to interrupt our conversation. It was weird, because you know how you’d meet a stranger and just talk nonstop about everything? That was my experience with Michael, but it was all an act, so well done him for being able to hold up what seemed like a genuine conversation for nearly 4 hours at a restaurant. Everything about him was fake because the second time we hung out, he introduced me to two of his friends who were complete dicks, and it turned out that he was just like them. The day after I met his friends, Michael’s texts were no longer the same—he would act distant and annoyed whenever I responded to his texts, which was weird because he was the one who texted me. I genuinely wanted to be friends, but he didn’t feel the same. I said earlier that I made two solid friends through Tinder, and one of them named Jeff* told me that Michael was a complete creep, and everyone got a bad vibe from him. Jeff said that I was better off finding other friends to talk to because no one really wanted to be Michael’s friend, anyway. I just stopped talking to him and that was the end of it. He did send me a text one night saying, “Hey,” but I assumed he was drunk or something, so I ignored it. I suppose you could conclude that I ghosted him as well.

After some time passed, I was struggling to make friends, until I stumbled upon one incredibly charming guy (Caden*) who I felt like was the answer to all my prayers. We talked on Tinder and WhatsApp for 2 weeks until we actually met up in person. We had similar interests and personalities, and it felt like a pretty solid friendship/crush situation. He was really smooth in the way he’d flirt and get his words across, but I should have known that it was too good to be true from the beginning. Long story short, he was emotionally unavailable and he ghosted me. I wouldn’t give up this particular experience for anything because this was the turning point that helped me understand ghosting. It was quite a rollercoaster ride getting through this experience, and I was incredibly crushed when I found out that he didn't want to talk to me anymore. This also allowed me to rethink the whole emotions things, and this time, I wanted to turn off my emotions (or at least attempt to). Three weeks and a double-text later, he finally responded and somewhat provided closure, saying that his ex was going through an incredibly rough time and that she reached out to him for help, basically begging him to come back, so he agreed and went through with it (although I highly doubt that was the case, and he just wanted to come up with a reason that would seem liable for him not wanting to speak to me anymore). Anyway, he blocked me after, and that was it lol.

I was incredibly sad for quite some time over Caden, and coincidently enough, I met Stefan*, who literally turned my world around. It was a ridiculous coincidence because he was actually close childhood friends with Caden, which I was like “no way not happening right now.” I told him shit went down between Caden and I, and he asked if I wanted to grab some drinks to talk about it. I would say this was an incredibly reckless decision on my part because I had only talked to Stefan for less than two days before we were off meeting each other. The reason why I didn’t bother to get to know him before we met was because he knew Caden, and that was all that mattered to me at the time. I had absolutely nothing to lose, and I was hoping that Stefan could help me get some answers about why things ended with Caden the way they did. Anyway, as we hung out a few more times, my emotions were mostly off. I didn’t care as much for the romantic part of whatever we had, I felt like he was almost a rebound to my feelings for Caden. As we spent more time talking and hanging out, we both realized that it wasn’t necessarily friends with benefits because we both were attracted to each other in some way, somewhat romantically, but we knew we couldn’t officially be together. In the end, it was an unofficial relationship, and things were cute. We’re on really good terms, but it’s hard to keep in touch when our lives are busy and the only things separating us are the Atlantic Ocean and a 5-hour time difference.

Part II
When I got back to America, I realized that my Tinder account was still active and I never turned off the discovery setting. I had a good four weeks at home doing nothing to get settled back into America, so I ended up passing some of the time using Tinder. I’ve met a total of four people in America since I’ve been back—two hookups with no emotions, where the day we met was the first and last time I would speak to them, and two genuine friends.

Honestly, after everything I’ve been through, I think the hookup culture is ignorant, and everyone in their 20s is part of this culture where the deceiving idea is that you “need” to be sexually compatible with someone before you can date and have a real relationship with them. That is not true at all, but it’s what most people think because it’s all an idea, and the idea turned into a culture.

Defining the Hookup Culture

I didn’t even know ghosting was a thing until it happened to me. I hadn’t even realized that I had ghosted guys in the past. According to this post by Eileen Kelly, ghosting is done out of selfishness, so the person can protect their own feelings and emotions.

The hookup culture is definitely something I am a part of, and what most college students and people in their 20s are part of. Hookups and one-night-stands lead to ghosting, and sometimes, someone will get hurt. The way relationships are formed is not the same as they used to be 30 years ago.
What ever happened to meeting someone, flirting with them, going on a few nice dates with them, to find out whether or not you two were compatible? Why does relationship compatibility have to rely on sexual compatibility?
Yeah, being sexually compatible is important, but the ways in which people are trying to find out whether or not they’re sexually compatible is having sex right after meeting each other, and that is not the right thing to do.

In the end, I guess we’re all just part of this culture with wrong ideas, but we believe in them anyway.

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