SINGLE IN SCRANTON: Are hookups and booty calls the new dating?

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First Posted: 8/5/2013

In Katy Perry’s 2011 song “Last Friday Night,” the pop songstress sings about waking up with a stranger: she’s hung over from the night before, trying to make sense of what happened and how she arrived in her situation. She implies that she and her mystery man had sex, and that their interaction will end there.
Among my generation, “Millennials” (born between the early 1980s and early 2000s), “hookups” are the norm, and Perry, who is herself a Millennial, embodies the hookup ethos better than anyone through her song lyrics.
That sexual intercourse can take place in an array of contexts – including marriage, committed relationships, friends with benefits scenarios, and one-night stands – is well known. According to a study published last year by the American Psychological Association, 20 percent of sexual intercourse cases involve people who know each other but were not in a relationship, and another 15 percent involved people having sex who did not know each other previously.
So, what are hookups, and how do they differ from other forms of intimacy?
Defined as “a brief sexual encounter among individuals who are not romantic partners or dating each other,” hookups’ defining qualities are brevity and non-commitment. Others call this form of interaction “booty call relationships.” In this way, hookups and booty calls are both low-investment sexual activities, the ultimate free ride, allowing two people (or many, if you’re into that sort of thing) to have sex without sticking around.
Traditional forms of relationships and courting have been changing for decades, with fewer people courting each other for long-term commitments like marriage. Widespread and dominate, hookups are, I submit, a way of testing a potential partner, seeing if they can be, indeed, relationship material. To the regret of some, the traditional date is in many ways on the path to extinction.
To be clear, hookups and booty calls, though increasing in popularity, are still not practiced among the majority. Also, arguably, nothing good or bad can be said about this phenomenon. It’s simply a description of what is – an observation of how people behave. I don’t necessarily endorse hookups and booty calls, nor do I mean to suggest that I am some promiscuous jerk by bringing light to this subject.
Though, in some ways, I do like the traditional date. With the right person, traditional dates are a lot of fun. They offer people an opportunity to relax and have fun while getting to know each other in the process. But I do recognize, however, that the emotional and relational winds have been shifting for quite some time, and it’s better to get on the wagon than be left behind.
Finally, to ask the question – “Are hookups and booty calls better than the traditional date?” – is to dive into a one of the major dilemmas of modern dating, a question that does not readily yield an answer.
But, then again, you might be able to ask Katy Perry.