Hook Up Culture Part 1: How Has It Changed Dating?

Trey Hamilton
8 min readMar 22, 2021

Millennials are hooking up blah, blah, blah.

People are having sex with anyone and everyone.

Every song these days is about sex.

I can’t text a single guy without them sending some kinda dick pick.

Does anyone even date anymore?


Do any of these sound vaguely familiar to you?

We hear so much about hook-up culture as we try to navigate today’s murky dating waters. Some of us don’t know whether we’re in it unknowingly if we’re actively participating in it. Or if the person we were dating for a brief moment in time is doing it behind our backs. The discussion of hook-up culture usually has about three components.

  1. Those who say they’re vehemently against it.
  2. Those who are on the fence.
  3. Those who promote it into existence so long as you’re safe.

But by today’s standards, what is hook-up culture? I want to make sure we’re on the right page before I start running my mouth about it.

What is Hook-Up Culture?

Essentially they’re any kind of casual sexual encounters without love or intimacy. Having intimate moments with someone you don’t really know or, to be honest, really like. You essentially have an itch that needs scratching, and you need someone to scratch it for you.

Hook-up culture is sex on demand. Are you horny? Are you really horny? Well, jump on an online dating platform and either lie that you’re looking for something real in order to get sex or just flat out say, “Do you wanna hook up?”.

Hook-up culture diminishes the most basic forms of relationship/Dating conventions. Things such as opening up, communication, being vulnerable, holding hands, having reciprocity, and falling in love. Hook-up culture denies this, and it’s wildly frowned upon to come close to any of those emotions.

Hook-up culture glamorizes instant chemistry and short-term gratification coming first and everything else second. It thrives off of love bombing and does little to establish something long-term.

Hook-Up culture is seen as sexual liberation. It’s promoted in the dating community as not to feel shame that you are a sexual being and sleep with whoever, whenever.

Hook-Up culture is wanting to have fun and sexual pleasure without any commitment to anyone.

Hook-Up culture is no right or wrong. It’s just pure, carnal, desire and wants for rampant sex.

Hook-up culture is like wearing a multitude of different shoes in a week. Not buying a single pair and taking them all back. Essentially you’re walking around emotionally barefoot and potentially damaging your soul for when you actually want to sleep with someone meaningful.

Hook-up culture isn’t new.

In all the conversations and research I’ve done in regards to hookup culture. A lot of scientists, therapists, and psychologists like to wax poetically as if it’s a completely new phenomenon. In reality, it isn’t.

It’s been around for a long ass time. Before your parents too.

What’s the difference?


In the age of information and sensory overload, it’s all about access. Access to food at your doorstep from the click on mouse or finger on a screen. Access to a brand new laptop delivered to your very doorstep with a personal engraving. Access is everywhere, and it narrow’s the gap between fantasy and reality every year.

In the 60’s they had the free love movement. People were having sex like it was going out of stock. The only difference. People didn’t have enough access to more people to have MORE sex.

The idea that millennials have created hook-up culture is a joke. Why? Well because a Baby boomers average sexual partner is 11 — Gen X is 10 and Millenials is 8. This means between the other generations apparently we’re not getting off as much as we’d like.

In the “olden days”, hook-up culture was always there. You just didn’t know about it cause there’s no way you could have. The conduit of information was not even close to being as big as it is now.

If you were both hooking up with the same guy in the 90’s who gave you each a different name. There was no way you’d know. There’s no picture to share from his Facebook or insta. There’s no mass internet to google and stalk their life. There’s nothing that link the two together.

These days all you need is an email to paste in Facebook, an insta handle, or a screenshot of their dating profile. Information makes things public. The lack of information makes things almost nonexistent.


How has it changed dating?

More than most of us might even realize.

Romance has now been commodified and put into secular boxes where there isn’t so much a spiritual out-of-body experience when it comes to intimacy, most people wouldn’t realize a truly intimate moment unless it pushed them over a bridge. Now it’s purely a source of self-gratification that has been reduced to bragging rights via TikTok. What was once reserved for small chit-chats with groups of friends is now plastered everywhere.People literally bragging about their body count. This changes dating because people operate on a higher scale of anxiety not wanting to be the person bragged about.

With sex being higher on the menu it means that one or both parties go into it with a more abstract, atomized, and disconnected view which resembles nothing close to that of true intimacy. So when the deed is done both parties walk away feeling unfulfilled but sexually gratified and wondering why the two can’t connect. This leads to fewer actual connections. Which is why 51% of young people from 18–34 YO have no steady partners in 2020. In 1986 it was 35%. It’s only going to get worse.

It’s the slow stripping away of human consciousness for someone else’s feelings. When you treat someone as a sexual object it reduces your consciousness to the feelings of the opposite sex. The person on the other side begins to slowly feel like they’re worthless if it continues, so much so they start doing the exact same thing to someone else and so the vicious cycle continues.

The efforts from both men and women have drastically dwindled when trying to get to know each other.


It’s because people exhibit basic effort because they don’t know if they’re a part of that culture or not. Meaning they’re not sure if you’re hooking up with other people. So until they have a good understanding as to whether you are or not. The effort is minimal.

Because the accessibility of more sexual partners is more commonplace these days, people are now using sexual partners to stay busy until they find “real” love. The idea here is that if both parties consensually agree to be sexual partners and nothing else. When someone else “better” comes along they amicably split. Does anyone really want to be a part of that? Could you imagine this:

Them: Yeah, I’m actually glad we decided to start dating now. Just a few days ago I was hooking up with someone. But I feel like you’re more relationship material then they are.

You: Oh, okay.

That’s weird! That whole interaction is off. Probably isn’t a conversation that’s happening IRL. But the actions are happening behind closed doors and that’s part of the problem.

I once went on a first date and a woman actually told me she’s kinda hooking up with this guy and she’s waiting for the right guy to prove to her a relationship is worth it. You could imagine that I wasn’t too hot on the idea of potentially obliging to her request.

People aren’t waiting longer to settle down; they can’t stay with just one person. There are too many people to sleep with! Why on earth would they. On the opposite side of that coin, the people who are actually looking for a life partner take longer to settle down cause they’re trying to wade through the mess of crappy people who don’t want to settled down. This means half of dating now is trying to figure out who’s for real and who’s just trying to get some.

It’s changed dating cause now the paradigm is this.

“There are so many options out there and online why would you settle? Date a bunch of people for a few years and when you’re ready, settle down”.

But this is an illusion. There are hundreds of matchs you could get, sure. But how many do you actually align with? How many are you compatible with? How many can make you laugh uncontrollably? How many really will know you and love you for you? Not a lot. The misguided belief that you must sow your wild oats until you’re ready to settle down has only amplified in this hook up culture. So by the time they’re ready to settle down it’s too late. The dating universe doesn’t work this way. It doesn’t allow you piss away opportunity after opportunity of finding a really good mate. Then when you decide your ready, give you a hand crafted person just for you.

Okay, so what now?

So now you know.

But don’t despair because if you keep at it, like minded people will always find a way to find each other. That’s just how it is.

Remember, online dating isn’t the problem human nature and accessibility is. Most of us will flow like water and take the easiest route. Some of us will succumb to the temptations of what appears to be an infinite source of sexual gratification. But what’s important is to not get lost into that. The landscape of relationship definition is constantly changing, no matter how much it does. Have sex on terms you both agree to. Not societal pressure. Have a long hard think about what sex means to you. Manifest what you want and your standards from the first date.

What’s important is to realize those feelings and are transient. Hooking up is great for a short term boost, but sex is ultimately the essense of selflessness. Something you’ll never really get to experience with a series of hookups. A relationship adds such a wondrous level of depth to your life that is almost insurmountable and true intimacy is the ultimate feat of devoted surrender and vulnerability. This is what I believe will bring you the most joy.



Trey Hamilton

Author - The First Date Fix - Dating Coach - Content Creator -Dog Dad | follow me for some ramblings of a millennial who has dated. A LOT! TheFirstDateFix.Com