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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Opinion: Herpes and heartbreak

The harmful side of hookup culture
Opinion%3A+Herpes+and+heartbreak

Despite being a universal experience — well outside of the strange people who love cats more than dogs — love seems to have a range of definitions depending on who you ask. 

Is it that warm fuzzy feeling you get in your stomach at just the sight of your significant other? Is it a mutual desire to better understand how you can positively impact your partner’s life? When do you even know it’s present? How long does it take to dissipate? Who knows? 

Some social scientists claim it doesn’t even meet the basic requirements to be considered an emotion.  

Regardless, right around the time when boys realize girls don’t have cooties and girls begrudgingly decide they’ll tolerate our body odor if it means getting treated like a princess, finding love becomes the No. 1 priority.  

From rom-coms, pop songs, advertisements and tiresome articles that have the “top 10 tips on how to attract the man/woman of your dreams,” if you’re not putting yourself in a position to experience romance on a regular occasion, you’re made to feel like a thin veil of cellophane. 

This incessant emphasis on affection, particularly while you’re still young and discovering yourself, has set the ball in motion for the beginnings of what has now turned into the all too common phrase,  “hookup culture.” 

Common among college students, no seriously like 60-80% of them, it involves “finding one’s self” via sexual relations with many different people over a span of time with absolutely no expectation of commitment. The goal in this now socially-acceptable fallacy is the hope that by sleeping with any given number of people, you become a more complete version of yourself on the other side.

Sounds stupid? That’s because it is. You don’t need to take your clothes off in front of a complete stranger to find out who you really are or what you’re looking for in a partner. 

Add to that the emergence of dating apps and sex not being as highly stigmatized as it once was, and it’s become more akin to a social activity than something two people do after they’ve developed love for one another. 

It’s gotten to the point where hookups are so common that women in particular have to literally state in their online dating profiles that they’re not interested in casual sex with another stranger. 

This only further proves that while some individuals may attempt to claim that there is little to no downside to hookup culture, there is more at stake here. After a few one-night stands and even more unanswered texts, it is not out of the ordinary for someone to experience a number of feelings. 

Confused. Disappointed. Manipulated. Humiliated.

One American Psychological Associate survey found that 82.6% of undergraduate students experienced negative mental and emotional responses post-hookup. And just when you thought your mental health was the end of it, the CDC reports that they’ve seen a national rise in gonorrhea and syphilis cases since 2018.  

What does all this mean? Well first, you should wrap it before you tap it, however, you should also consider the repercussions of your next sexual fling. Is herpes, or at the very least, low self-esteem worth five minutes of pleasure? And yes, believe me, it’s around five no matter what he says. 

It’s crucial to think beyond all of the initial flirtations and ask yourself, “Is this something that is going to make me feel fulfilled or used?” 

Lastly, I want to stress there is a difference between hooking up with someone you hardly know and eventually deciding it’s time for you and your partner to take that next step. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to navigating the physical element between two people. 

If you’re waiting until marriage that’s fine. If not, cool. What’s most important is prioritizing your overall physical and mental well-being while keeping the manipulative horndogs at bay. 

It’s time to call hookup culture what it is: a disgusting stain on the collegiate experience — no pun intended.

Benjamin Barnes is a telecommunication media studies senior and opinion columnist for The Battalion.

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About the Contributor
Bj Barnes
Bj Barnes, Opinion Columnist
Benjamin Barnes is a Telecommunication Media Studies senior from Rochester, Indiana. Barnes' has been involved with The Battalion since his junior year and plans to start his own media group following graduation. If he's not writing, he's most likely watching a Texans game or at the gym.
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