The Driving Forces: Time & Happiness
If you think about the driving factor behind hook-up culture, it is not an attitude of lack of commitment, but it is simply an absence of time.
Psychologist Dr. Denis Waitley states that: “Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent more hours.”
Time is the most valuable commodity we have, and in their twenties, many people would rather invest their time to secure a stable future for themselves than invest in a relationship. The people complaining about hook-up culture are those who value outdated relationship metrics or who are simply not hooking up with anyone and are just bitter about it. In other words, they sense a lack of happiness in others or themselves as a result of their perception about the role of sex within relationships. Happiness is one of the most important things we experience as humans, but we often go about achieving happiness the wrong way.
A common point made against hook up culture is that it is eroding relationships. One could point to divorce rates being at an all-time high and marriage rates being at an all time low, but are those indicative of overall happiness? Marriage was a sacred thing for thousands of years, but did its sacred nature also breed happiness within it? Who’s to say that people are happier married than they are divorced? Remember that for hundreds of years, people viewed marriage as a necessity to life in their blind devotion to the Church, ignoring their own feelings or rights as a person.
Louis C.K. put it best: “Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true…because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce … That would be sad. If two people were married and they were really happy and they just had a great thing and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened literally zero times.”
So as long as you’re happy, who’s to say what is the best relationship state for you?
Today, we feel the pressures of marriage and stable relationships more and more thanks to the glorification of it. TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress and other shows centred around weddings will always be a source of fascination for many women and what their future wedding will be like. Pinterest is full of wedding ideas and photos that are being viewed by millions of people, some planning a real wedding, while others are just wishfully thinking ahead. I’d almost hazard a guess that because marriage rates are dropping, more and more television shows are being created to glorify the process by those in the industry to help bump sales up.
Facebook during wedding season is a nightmare for some people. Seeing the constant stream of beautiful wedding photos of perfect couples can really bother some people and make them depressed. But why should it? Why should being married be this one magical thing that will solve all the problems in your life? This isn’t to say that marriage is a sham, but the material act of getting married to someone does not create happiness; a good relationship does. The idea of marriage is often what we’re sold, but the process is what’s more important.
We could go to other extreme and examine hook-up culture for this same reason: is simply casually dating someone the right move for you? If you think that simply hooking up with more people will make you happy and established as an adult, you’re wrong. Don’t be sold on the illusion that sex alone will be a fulfilling part of your life, because you may be left with a rather empty feeling afterwards. I’m sure I’m not alone here when I say that after a one-night stand, I’m sure we’ve all felt a pang of regret at some point. Some of us have also felt fantastic after one, and that’s what’s so fascinating about relationships, whether they last hours, months, or years.
The Illusion of Happiness Through Sex
One danger of hook-up culture is believing that only sex will make you happy and leave you fulfilled as a human being. I have previously spoken about how in any given statistically relevant population, 80% of the sexual activity is done by 20% of the people, which adheres to the Pareto Principle, a widely applicable economics principle.
Twenty percent of the population do 80% of the hooking up, which leaves 80% of the population to divide the remaining 20% of sex amongst themselves. Statistically speaking, that’s a lot of sexless people. This divide produces an interesting dynamic: 20% of the population is used to regular intervals of sexual encounters, leading to the expectation that sex is something that occurs regularly. The other 80% is left with more sexual desire than the sexually satiated 20% because they simply don’t get as much: the demand is far greater than the supply, so the market value for a sexual encounter is much higher in the 80% bracket.
Because the 20% group experiences a regular occurrence of sex, it no longer becomes a factor solely on the physiological level and evolves into a performance that benefits higher order needs like intimacy or confidence rather than a simple physical transaction. A transaction occurs for the basic things in our life like food or shelter, but we can’t buy higher order factors like confidence or self-esteem (despite what many companies may lead you to believe). The 80% are very conscious of their relatively poor sex lives, so they believe that an increase in the frequency of sexual encounters will cure that. It is this psychological mindset that has often driven people into hook-up culture, but for all the wrong reasons.
Men are predisposed to mate with multiple partners because they are biologically driven to pass on their genes to produce as many progeny as possible. Women are biologically wired to seek a committed partner to provide resources for them and their offspring. This produces a paradoxical mating dynamic. High status, attractive men have far greater access to potential mates, and as a result, most males of this phenotype are grouped into the 20 percent. Sex is an expected part of their routine, as they rarely have to work hard to get it due to their inherent attractiveness, whether it be physical, social, economic, or a combination.
The remaining 80 percent of men pedestalize sexual encounters because these are not part of their weekly routine. Women are placed at a high priority, and many men have grown up thinking that they need to earn the company of a woman, and we reach a situation where men are treating sex and dating merely as a transaction. Unfortunately, other lifestyle factors such as career achievement, physical fitness, and intelligence are ignored in process. This phenomenon is what produced the Pick-Up Artist (PUA) movement of the 2000s, where legions of men who would normally be classified as “creeps” or “losers” by women started to learn the art of “pick-up” and their lives began to revolve around sexual encounters with women. The highlight of this movement was the book “The Game” by Neil Strauss.
If you’ve ever read “The Game”, you’ll remember that after the unlikely journey from being lonely online chatrooms to throwing parties in a Hollywood mansion, the whole scene sort of blew up because all of the PUAs involved reached a breaking point where they put too much emphasis on sexual encounters in the illusion that it created happiness.
What these men forgot was that in order to be happy, one must achieve and possess a variety of things, and once sexual encounters become a regular part of your life, there are more important things to worry about than going out to a club and hooking up with someone. These men failed to create an attractive lifestyle, and instead tried to “fake it till you make it”, which can only last for so long until a breaking point is reached.
The lesson to take away from this is that if you find yourself in the scenario where you are engaged in hook-up culture, you should not make your life revolve around directly creating sexual encounters. Hook-up culture should be a by-product of your lifestyle should you choose to engage in it, but it should not be all that you are. Creating a lifestyle solely around going out and hooking up with girls is not psychologically healthy, as you will eventually reach a point where you will feel empty; left searching for a higher means of fulfillment.
Part three will go into detail about why the absence of time and the evolving gender dichotomy of today’s world has made it increasingly difficult for “traditional” relationships to survive during your 20s. Part three will also describe the struggles that the majority of the population face when it comes to sexual encounters and relationships, in that many individuals feel pressured to have sex despite the fact that it provides merely the illusion of happiness. I will also go into detail about solutions to address this problem, and how we need to stop thinking about sex as a numbers game and producing negative judgements about others as a result. Stay tuned for part three.