Sexual hookups are becoming an increasingly prominent feature of life in Western culture. The “hookup mentality” is a contemporary belief that accepts and encourages casual sexual encounters focused on physical pleasure without necessarily including emotional bonding. The term “hookup” has a broad definition because it can range from kissing to any form of physical sexual activity between sexual partners. While “hookups” have been more common among adults and college aged young adults, increasingly, teens at younger and younger ages are engaging in hookups for various reasons from instant sexual gratification, to attempts to fulfill unmet emotional needs. Numerous websites and social media outlets have emerged creating abundant new ways to find hookup partners.
For many young adults, sex and relationships have been decoupled in part because of the hookup mentality that is increasingly accepted in society. Experts worry that if society disconnects intimate sexual behavior and emotional connection, that over time young adults who regularly and frequently hookup could have trouble forming relationships later in life.
Hookups can result in emotional and psychological injury, sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections, and/or unintended pregnancy. These consequences can be devastating.
Studies have found that, not infrequently, people regret their hookups. In one study, 77% of students regretted their hookups, and in another, 78% of women and 72% of men who had uncommitted vaginal, anal, and/or oral sex, regretted the experience. Intercourse that occurred less than 24 hours after meeting, and those that took place only one time, are the most likely regretted. Males were more likely to be sorry for having used another person, and females regretted the experience because they felt they had been used. While women usually feel worse after a hook up than men do, 39% of men expressed extreme regret, shame, and frustration with themselves about their hookup experiences.
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An out of control hookup mentality does have emotional effects on a person. Frequent hookups can lead to shame, isolation, disrespect and lack of an authentic connection. Many in hindsight describe their emotions and feelings in the aftermath of a hookup as miserable. Hookup mentality teaches to repress ones natural romantic feelings for the other, particularly after a sexual encounter. A long-term impact can be the inability to enjoy a healthy relationship and an intimacy crisis later in life.
If your hookups have become out of control and you are concerned about your behavior, you might want to schedule a confidential consultation for an in depth evaluation. You could be looking at the beginning signs of sex addiction.
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