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  • MUD

The Mental Toll of Hookup Culture in College

Having 'fun' in College isn't always as fun as it seems.



  1. an institution of higher education

  2. sleep, drink, sex, repeat

Our parents like to believe they‘re paying thousands of dollars for room and board so that we can adjust to our newfound independence and have our own space to learn. But let’s be real, we all know what’s going on in those college dorms. I’ve been sexiled, I have sexiled my roommates, hell, I even violated a study room at

2 a.m. (I’m sorry to my RSA).

Despite how much fun I had having fun, it came with a lot of downsides. Hookup culture can be a fuckton of fun (pun intended), but emotions get really messy, and the meaning/value of intimacy is kinda lost.

I lost my virginity before I ever had a boyfriend.

I didn’t even want to wait for a boyfriend for my first time. I just wanted to get it over with. I know, it sounds terrible, but the first time sucks anyway.

When I got to college I went to frat parties every weekend. AND OF COURSE, Chad and Brad and every other college guy looking for a quick hookup would come up to me and be like, “oh, you a freshman?”

Suddenly, I was getting attention I wasn’t used to, and we all know it wasn’t because of my sparkling personality. Eventually, I began to measure my self-worth by what I had to offer sexually. And I hit rock bottom before realizing I needed to change my view on sex, boys, and myself.

I asked around to try to gauge other people’s views on hookup culture, and how it’s affected their relationship with others and themselves over time. Not surprisingly, I found a very similar trend in their responses and my own beliefs.

“There is a stigma towards women in hookup culture.
Women are more likely to be labeled ‘slut’ whereas men are more likely to be labeled a ‘player.’ I often used to think about the number of men I have slept with, more than 80% of them being hookups, and felt badly about myself. I think my saddened mental health state came from the idea that I’d given myself away too many times, but the more I thought about it, that insecurity came from society… my opinion of myself is what truly matters.” (Female, straight, 20)

I watched this young woman question her sexual choices and let her mind manipulate her into thinking that her worth was based on her body count. That’s a danger of hookup culture: it tricks young men and women into believing that their self-worth is measured by what they can physically offer.

“Sometimes, especially when your young, you see yourself only as others see you. So if you are fooling around, those people are only going to see you as someone to fuck, and eventually, you could view yourself like that too. It’s easy for me to detach my emotions from my actions, but that’s because I’ve learned to see myself in my own eyes rather than others.” (Female, bisexual, 19)

There was a period of time when I tried to sleep my way to validation. I based my self-worth on whether or not a boy wanted to have sex with me, and if he did, I would be so flattered that I would flirt right along. Even if I didn't want to, I had convinced myself that people wouldn't like me if I didn't put out. So now my body count includes a drug dealer, a thief, and my sister's ex-best guy friend. Whoops...

It took countless mascara stains on my pillow to finally realize that I am more than my body.

“It depended on how each partner reacted to everything that occurred.
I’d either feel like a million bucks or I’d wanna curl up into a ball and die. Casual sex is a game of chance. You either win big, win something, or you question if you won at all. Intimacy can be very easily separated from emotions for me. Sometimes I forget a lot of people can’t do that, which made it confusing in relationships. When you’re a part of hookup culture, everybody already knows details about your dick size, if you cum fast, if you have commitment issues. For me, I just became the guy everyone hooked up with.” (Male, bisexual, 20)

Yes, some people are easily able to detach their emotions from sex, but at the same time, others literally fall in love with just the tip. Sometimes, you don’t even know which person you are until the damage has been done. The thing that nobody tells you when you're enjoying casual, no-strings sex is that hookup culture makes it very hard to find and maintain meaningful relationships. Also, it makes emotions like love and lust extremely difficult to differentiate from one another.

What I’ve come to realize is that sex is natural but can be an emotional dagger. No one should be shamed for their sex drive, what, or who they choose to do with their bodies. But in the society we live in, it can be hard to remember that.

Hookup culture can be extremely dangerous and is not for the faint of heart. If you really want to enjoy casual sex, you need to be able to define your self-worth and not let anyone or anything change your opinion of yourself.

So please, fuck who you want when you want. Just make sure you’re emotionally prepared for whatever comes at you after.

Hookup culture broke me, then it built me up and shaped me into the mentally strong person I am today.


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