Hook-ups and heartbreak: The problem with our generation’s concept of relationships

“Boys only want one thing,” my father used to say to me. I thought that thing was friendship, but my father would always reply, “boys don’t want to be your friend.”

It’s the classic case of father knows best. My dad repeated those precautionary lines so frequently throughout my high school years that it became a mission of mine to prove him wrong. But once I got to college and began interacting with the opposite gender in a more romantic way, I realized yet again, daddy was right.

Well, partially right. Guys definitely want to be your friend, but not without benefits, and they rarely want a relationship title included. The same goes for girls.

Relationships seem to be a taboo topic in college today, as if they are a plague to be avoided. They are recommended only for those lost in love. Though, even with the negative connotation that the relationship possesses, it has not been entirely abandoned by the university scene; instead, it has been modernized in the form of hook-up buddies.

“Hook-up buddy” is a condescending term used by men and women alike to condone a lack of commitment. What would have once been referred to as using somebody is now a sought-after role. Individuals use each other simply to satisfy their carnal needs, and the whole act is justified based on the sole fact that it is mutual.

Regardless of what is decided prior to this pseudo-relationship, one person is bound to get more attached than the other, and someone will get hurt. Do we really need to question why so many marriages today end up in divorce?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that for every 1,000 people in the United States in 2011, the marriage rate was only 6.8 percent while the divorce rate was close behind at 3.6 percent. Meanwhile, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that depression affects an astounding 9.5 percent of the current population. Could not divorce and depression be the side effects of a generation that took the once selfless concept of a relationship and turned it into a selfish delusion?

It doesn’t help that people are labeled as “wife material” or “husband material” –a slap in the face dressed up like a compliment. People use this to put the good girls and guys on a sort of layaway, as if they will be around in a few years when the opposite party is ready to settle down.

To each his own method of living, right? Who am I to judge the actions of another? But this style of relationships exceeds an optional lifestyle choice; it has become the standard operating procedure of dating. People with positive intentions, who are willing to give their hearts and trust to another individual, are the ones getting hurt. I see it everywhere – in my friends’ lives and in my own.

The dating pool is polluted, and it is impossible to wade through without getting covered in debris. One person may think that he or she is entering a relationship when the other participant sees it as much less. This happens all too often, because intentions are never vocalized.

Activities that prelude becoming involved in a true relationship, such as conversation, flirting and simply spending time alone together, are the same as those that prelude becoming involved as hook-up buddies. How is one to distinguish between a budding romance and a mere physical attraction?

Is the point of this article to insinuate that you need to find a serious relationship in college? Absolutely not. If it happens, let it. If it doesn’t happen, let it go. And if you have gusto in leading another individual on, you can at least inform them of your intent beforehand. It’s beyond common courtesy; it’s called being a decent person.

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