Too often while scrolling through social media I come upon posts that talk about how hookup culture is the evilest of all evils.  I see articles written where people wish that we could go back to the time of dates, flowers and meeting parents.  These posts and articles moan about how we as a generation no longer date but “talk.” We no longer care about formalities, and somehow that means we no longer care about our partner.

I cannot go through my Twitter without seeing my peers (typically the female ones) complain about how much more pleasant life would be if being open about your feelings and “going steady” were mainstream.  They compare this ideal to the norm of one-night stands, friends with benefits and the refusal of labels or exclusivity.

Is casual, no-strings-attached sex common for us college students?  Yes.  But does that mean that we are not capable of loving and exclusive relationships?  No, of course not. 

In fact, the idea of casual sex is nothing new.  Hookup culture has been around longer than we have (since the 1840s, in fact, when John Humphrey Noyes founded a community where sex was completely unromanticized and normalized).

There is nothing wrong with sex — as long as it is practiced safely, ladies and gentlemen!  Condoms and consent are super important!  Sex is natural.  It has been proven that sex lowers blood pressure and can reduce the risk of heart disease, so why should we be ashamed for something so healthy?  The answer is simple: we shouldn’t.

I always find it strange when millennials buy into the idea that hookup culture is ruining our generation. You guys must know that dates still happen, relationships still exist and no one actually gets mad over Instagram likes, right?  However, I realized that hookup culture is an excuse that people use to protect themselves from rejection.  Rejection can be scary to think about.  It makes sense that you would not want to put yourself in a situation where rejection is a possible outcome. Nevertheless, it is a part of life. 

There is no way to get through life without being rejected.  But the only way to find other people who want relationships is to put yourselves out there, to stop conforming to what you perceive to be the (unspoken) rules.  Just be honest about what you want; if you want a relationship with someone, go for it.  Ask them on a date.  It doesn’t have to be anything special.  Take them Uptown and buy them Chipotle or buy them ice cream from Armstrong. 

Stop doing what other people want you to do.  Want to have no-strings-attached sex with someone?  Explain that to them before you do it.  Be mature enough to have these talks and both of you will appreciate it.