Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Latest issue

Hooked on keeping it casual

Illustration by Han Beck

Casual dating and hookup culture intend to offer chill ways to connect with people physically and in some cases emotionally, without the potential anxieties of being in a serious relationship.  

Whether you participate in it or not, these modern dating trends have become a huge part of the university lifestyle, especially for those who want to put themselves out there without committing to anything prematurely.

Marigold Baldonado, a third-year digital communication arts major, found the essence of casual dating to be similar to hanging out with friends. 

“The difference between (hanging out with friends and) casual dating is you call it dates, like you’re going on dates with these people,” Baldonado said.

For third-year marine studies major Lydia Dapkus, casual dating is more of a step in the process of looking for a serious partner.

“If you’ve gotten to know them and you both feel like, ‘ah, this is going well’, then maybe you’re ready for more than that,” Dapkus said. “Dating is really just like a process to get to know somebody.” 

Hookup culture is a bit of a different story. In most cases, it implements the idea of separating sexual intimacy from emotional connection. Most who seek out partners to hook up with, tend to keep emotions either on the down low, or out of the equation completely, keeping the relationship between partners to be strictly physical.

First-year music education major and member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Owen Lee, approached hookup culture as, “you’re more just trying to have a good time in the moment and see where that goes,” Lee said.

However, the idea of not having that emotional bond and keeping things mostly, if not only physical, is a reason why some people opt out of hooking up.

For Baldonado, who’s expressed themselves as demisexual, the common disregard for deeper emotional connections stops them from participating in hookup culture.

“When it comes to the act of sex, they have to be emotionally invested in that person,” Baldonado said. “So it takes a lot for demisexuals to want to do that with a person. I can’t really do hookup culture because for me to have sex with a person, I would have to emotionally have something with that person.”

Hookup culture, for Dapkus, was a similar story.

 “I know that I would not thrive in that environment,” Dapkus said. “I am just a relationship person and that’s fine.”

An aspect of hookup culture and casual dating that appeals to people is the fact that many wish to partake in sexual and emotional exploration, but don’t want to settle down at this point in their lives. 

Casual dating and hookups offer this type of emotional and sexual freedom.

I don’t know if I’m gonna find my future wife in Corvallis, Oregon, but I do know that I need a companion of some sort, and I do know that I need my sexual needs met,” Lee said. 

Casual dating allows people to put themselves out there and figure out what they want and don’t want in a prospective relationship without the intensity that comes with choosing “the one”.

“I think that’s why casual dating is actually really helpful because you’re literally just getting to know people,” Dapkus said. “I think the biggest factor on if it gets to the next stage or not is just if the two people are compatible.”

In being in an open relationship as a polyamorous man, Lee commented on the positive elements of having multiple partners.

 “I’m just saying that if your sexual needs aren’t being met by one person, maybe your emotional needs are, and then your sexual needs can be met by another,” Lee said.

Sometimes the lines between hooking up, casual dating and relationships begin to blur, leading to confusion and sometimes emotional turmoil.

“The problem with modern dating is that people are not honest about their intentions,” Dapkus said. “People don’t communicate and then things get messy.”

One of the main reasons hooking up and casual dating may backfire is the lack of communication about what each party wants from the interaction. For many, it is easier to assume where someone stands in the relationship, rather than deal with the severity of finding out that their desires don’t match up.

“Everyone has to figure out what (a relationship) means to them,” Baldonado said.

However, this riskier side of human interaction often correlates to hookup culture which avoids emotional connection and leads to many broken hearts.

“I think that’s also part of the reason why I don’t participate in hookup culture,” Dapkus said. “Because I’ve seen it hurt other people that I know.”

Interwoven with communicating, another quality that can lead to a healthy bond with someone, whether a simple hookup or long-term, is respect.

“When you respect yourself and when you respect your partner, you’re able to trust your partner and you’re able to trust yourself,” Baldonado said. “And you’re also able to communicate with your partner. You’re also communicating your feelings to yourself.” 


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