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Hooking up 101: the ten commandments

Published: October 21, 2011
Section: Opinions


“Hook up”: Informal. To have casual sex or a romantic date without a long-term commitment, according to Dictionary.com.

As residents of a college campus, the words “hook up” pass our lips on an almost daily basis. Yet—for something about which we talk so much—their exact meaning, when used in the correct combination and context, are notoriously difficult to pin down. The definition above pinpoints the main problem with the idea of “hooking up”; it is a vague term that not only confuses the listener but those partaking in the act as well. This definition is so faulty that it equates sex with a romantic date, one of those for which you definitely remain in your clothes.

Since hooking up can mean sex or even casual hand-holding, people can manipulate the term to mislead others intentionally. For example, if an inexperienced individual wants his or her friends to believe the night went further than planned, they can simply say “We hooked up” and leave it open to interpretation. This can also reflect negatively on the partner, for rumors regarding the night quickly spread. Since simple kissing can translate into full-blown sex, a person may suffer a blow to their reputation. People can also use the term to downplay their sexual activity to avoid being labeled “slutty.”

What is also ambiguous about the term is the situations in which it can occur. For example, if a person wer invited over to “watch a movie,” does that mean watch a movie or hook up? And if it means hook up, what does that even entail?

This vague method of communication can lead to awkward situations. While it is understandable that people do not want to talk about sexual situations to someone they have just met, it may actually be easier than suffering the consequences afterward. For example, a simple conversation about “what are we actually doing when we hang out?” could be less awkward than stopping a hook-up midstride.

With all of this in mind, we decided to do a service to the Brandeis community and shed a little light on the topic of the hook-up.

In our expert opinions, we believe the “10 Commandments for Hooking Up” should be as follows:

1. Mean what you say. If you go to watch a movie, put on a movie at least in the background. Odds are, if you don’t even have a movie playing, you will be seen as quite sketchy and unlikely to get anywhere anyway.

2. If you are manipulating the terms to your advantage, most likely it is a translucent act and makes you seem more desperate than you even are.

3. Timing matters. If it is the middle of the night, people understand the difference between a booty call and wanting to hang out.

4. Be direct. Do not go through other people. If you are brave enough to hook up with somebody, you must be courageous enough to ask them. Hooking up often involves a certain sort of bravery; you must be not only comfortable in your sexuality but confident in being able to have a conversation with the other person.

5. Sexiling is only acceptable under some circumstances and for short amounts of time. For those who don’t know, sexiling involves “exiling” your roommate in the college setting from his or her room to engage in sexual activity. Sexiling involves a certain sort of etiquette, perhaps involving a code word or a meaningful glance. Respect is basically the key here; respect your roommates desire to hook up but they should respect the fact that it is your room as well.

6. Communication is key not only with your partner but with close friends or roommates (especially in a college/dorm environment).

7. Hooking up in public places is not acceptable whether you are simply making out or anything further. For example, the lounge is not a private area—it has glass windows.

8. In hook ups that become relationships, communication should be an extended discussion of how “far” each person is comfortable going. This should become easier since you now presumably know each other and are more comfortable.

9. Be careful of friendships. If you hook up once it does not mean that you can no longer be friends. If awkwardness could potentially be a problem, value the friendship over the hook-up.

10. Hook up safely, but have fun.