Young People Know How to Hook Up, But What About Commitment?


As a Millennial who often did not fit in with the crowd, I never understood the "hookup culture." I could never wrap my mind around the idea of meeting random people out in the world, having a one-night stand, and then moving on to the next thing. It just never seemed alluring, much less healthy.

I now find myself happily married to a wonderful woman, though many people my age are still just hooking up with others in these very short term encounters, never building a serious and deep commitment to another person.

They might claim that their love life is awesome, but is it really? Well, the data show that Americans are actually having less sex than in previous decades. It’s kind of ironic with all the sexualized advertising that’s right in front of our faces; as marriages rates have declined, so has sexual satisfaction.

The issue is serious, and even college professors are beginning to realize the problems of this approach to romance. One professor at Boston College saw this phenomenon happening, and decided to conduct an experiment to see if she could reverse the trend within the sphere of her own influence.

[Kerry] Cronin set out to remedy this by instituting a dating project as an extra credit assignment in her course. She gave students some basic rules on how to date in a proper and respectful manner, and then sent them out to actually try their hand at it. Her tips soon spread.

As Cronin explains, many students get into the hook-up culture because it is simply the thing to do. To reject hook-ups, one must also reject a certain “social status.” Cronin also found that many students are unhappy with this state of things but don’t know what to do.

Part of the problem? Many young people don’t have the social skills needed to build a healthy relationship that could blossom into marriage and family. “They want the way out but nobody’s offering it to them,” she said.

Professor Cronin is certainly not the first to notice this happening. University of Chicago Professor Allan Bloom stated the same problem nearly 30 years ago.

Students do not date anymore. Dating was the petrified skeleton of courtship. They live in herds or packs with no more sexual differentiation than any herds have when not in heat. Human beings can, of course, engage in sexual intercourse at any time. But today there are none of the conventions invented by civilization to take the place of heat, to guide mating, and perhaps to channel it. Nobody is sure who is to make the advances, whether there are to be a pursuer and a pursued, what the event is to mean. They have to improvise, for roles are banned, and a man pays a high price for misjudging his partner’s attitude. The act takes place but it does not separate the couple from the flock, to which they immediately return as they were before, undifferentiated.

Talk about hitting the nail on the head! I can even say that from my own observations, I have noticed very few of my peers who have actually intentionally attempted to start a serious relationship in a formal way. It’s just “do you want to hang out sometime?”

Bloom also aptly stated that there is a confusion about what love really is. Because of the familiarity with sex, “Young people practice… a crippled eros.” This crippled view prevents them from seeing the true meaning of love, which is selfless commitment and sacrifice.

I find these observations to be sadly accurate, and I want to see better for my peers. A strong society is not built upon Tinder or Netflix and Chill. It’s foundation is upon the union of man and wife, and the unit they create when they join in marriage and bear children.

Maybe with my marital experience, I can help my fellow Millennials. Marriage and commitment offers the freedom and satisfaction we long for in our relationships. We desire deep connection with another person, but that can’t be filled by one-night stands.

This is one way I’ve heard it put. What’s the better way to read: by taking a book off the shelf, reading the first chapter and then never opening it again; or by carefully selecting a good book, and reading it all through to completion?

Both marriage and reading require commitment. I’ve learned the value of commitment, and hope to share it with my peers as often as I can.