Please note: Entries within this blog may contain references to instances of domestic abuse, dating abuse, sexual assault, abuse or harassment. At all times, Break the Cycle encourages readers to take whatever precautions necessary to protect themselves emotionally and psychologically.  If you would like to speak with an advocate, please contact a 24/7 peer advocate at 866-331-9474  or text “loveis” to 22522.

Real Stories: Having a Healthy Hookup

This is Real Stories – a blog by Let’s Be Real members about their experiences with relationships, dating, and more. LBR is a movement by young people for young people about relationships.

It’s Real Week for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and today’s theme is “Freaky Friday.” That’s right! Today, we’re here to get real about sex, consent, boundaries, and all that awkwardness that happens when you’re dating…but maybe not really. Today, I want to talk about hookups:  the young millennial’s alternative to dating. Hookups have a bad rep with adults sometimes, but let’s be real, we’re choosing hookups over serious dating for a reason. What could that reason be? To start, relationships can be difficult to manage at our age (I’m 19). When the film industry, romance novels, and magazines project unrealistic, perfect relationships that are rooted in a foundation of showy, expensive dates, it can be a LOT of pressure for the normal young person.

Whether you’re a student, or you’re in the work force, we have a lot going on…and we’re young! 18-25 is a critical age for finding yourself. We’re in the middle of discovering who we are as individuals, and what we want. It can be hard to know what you want in a partner, when you don’t know who you are yet. So whether it’s because of our hectic schedules from school and work, or because we are trying to find out what we want and don’t want in a partner, hookups make a pretty popular choice for people our age. Sometimes we just want to have good, safe fun without the pressure and responsibility of a serious long-term relationship..and guess what? That is fine, normal, and when done the right way, HEALTHY.

Like I said, hookups can have a bad reputation – but they can be done in a healthy way that’s fun for everyone. In campus life, a common hookup situation is the Friends With Benefits or FWB  arrangement. In a ‘friends with benefits’ situation, by definition, you are friends that have sex (or other sexual activities) occasionally, without a romantic relationship or commitment.

  1. So, when you find a great person that you are friends with and physically attracted to…first things first: set boundaries. COMMUNICATION IS KEY when it comes to boundaries! If you are confident enough to want to initiate a fling or a hookup with someone, you are confident enough to communicate  and set boundaries! In order to maintain the friendship and spare each other the potential of hurt feelings or confusion about the situation, have an open and honest dialogue about what you each want and don’t want.
  2. Even if you think it’s clear that you two are just FWB, CLARIFY! For example, talk about what will happen if someone starts to develop emotions for the other person, if the arrangement is  only being physical with each other, the priority of having safe sex, or how often you want to see each other.  There’s a lot to clarify beforehand, and once you are in a well communicated, healthy FWB situation, you will be SO happy you did clarify! Keeping open communication sets the tone for a great and healthy hookup.
  3. Also very important, Don’t Assume Anything! Even though you two are friends and comfortable together, consent needs to be clear before starting anything physical. If your friend isn’t on the same page physically, that has to be established before anything happens. It’s not awkward to have an honest conversation about that…but if you feel like you aren’t able to have an honest conversation about it, then they aren’t the right person to be hooking up with in the first place. It’s always important to feel safe with the person you’re hanging out with.

Hookups shouldn’t be stressful. As long as you are being Safe, Open and Honest,  you should feel free and comfortable enough with your choice to initiate a hookup without any regret. There should be no shame or judgment associated with making the educated decision. As an adult over the age of 18, as long as you think it through, consent is given and you are being healthy and safe, go for it! That being said, there is nothing wrong with relationships or waiting to be in a relationship rather than hookup. However, there are far more articles and writing available about relationships, and hardly ANY positive writing out there about hook-ups. Society associates ‘hookups’ with reckless casual sexual encounters and promiscuity, but as I’ve said before, it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s change that connotation! Let’s take control of the term ‘Hookup’, and let’s TALK about it! Let’s be real, YOU define what a hookup means to you, NOT society.

Scarlet is a contributing member to Let’s Be Real – Break the Cycle’s movement for young people by young people about relationships. She is a London-Born Writer and Singer/Songwriter from Boston, Massachusetts who uses her music and writing to empower others and raise awareness about relationship abuse. She recently released a single called “That’s Not Love” to raise awareness about dating abuse. Scarlet is a college student, fitness and cooking lover, and advocate of healthy living. You can follow her music page on Facebook @Scarletdelemenymusic.