Swiping right on hooking up

The impact of hookup culture in a college community

Hookup culture is promoted by dating apps and the party scene surrounding college campuses like ASU. However, this may have a negative impact on those involved in said hookups. 

Whether you are just coming into college or you're several years out of the dorms, the social pressures of college tend to force you into using popular dating apps like Tinder or hooking up within your housing complex at all times of the night. Especially within the last six years since the rise of dating apps, this culture has expanded to become inescapable in the college dating scene. 

According to a study through a student loan refinancing website, LendEDU, 72 percent of "millennial college students" used Tinder. 

ASU student Lily, who asked to go by her first name only, talks about how relationships are impacted by hookup culture from her experience. Even as a freshman, this psychology major says that she sees a lot of the effects of hookup culture in her own dorm. 

She thinks hookup culture, both throughout the campus and online, has impacted relationship dynamics. 

"I think like 90% of the time it's (hooking up) a one-and-done situation," Lily says. 

She also says that beyond the stigma surrounding college relationships, there are stereotypes associated with ASU because of its party school reputation.

"I feel like ASU, even though it's trying to get away from it, is still a party school," she says. "When you say you go to ASU there still that stigma of 'oh you go to ASU,' and I feel like parties and hooking up kind of go hand-in-hand."

There is much to talk about that goes beyond college campuses, but the type of work that can be done to promote healthy sexual interactions among students (as well as the larger community) is still left unanswered. 


Breanne Fahs is an ASU professor who has studied women's sexuality and written several books on the topic. Among the books she has written (or co-written) are Performing Sex and The Moral Panics of Sexuality, which discuss cultural impacts and the anxiety surrounding sex. 

Although her previous research has been done in community samples with a wider range of ages, Fahs says similar things occur on college campuses but for different demographics. For example, she says that genders have different social pressures from the larger community on pleasure and responsibility.

The different perspectives men and women have on sexual experiences, according to Fahs, is quite stark. While women tend to feel the sexual pressures mentioned before, men try to avoid difficult conversations.

“It just shows a huge gap in consciousness about what women are thinking about and dealing with and what men are,” Fahs says.

Another topic at hand is misinformation and the lack of sex education provided to younger generations, especially in Arizona, as Fahs points out. 

“I’m always alarmed by the fact that Arizona does not have mandated sex education," Fahs says. "What that translates to, in terms of hookup culture, is a lot of misinformation.” 

Beyond the health reasons, there is also misinformation on how emotions play into hookups, and the 'friends with benefits' mentality is just part of the problem. Fahs argues that believing that these relationships will not become messy and emotional can backfire.

“The whole notion of sex being completely devoid of attachment or feeling or kind of the 'friends with benefits' thing," Fahs says. "Often that backfires."

Clint Fernandez is a freshman marketing major currently living in the dorms. His take on hookup culture is specific to the dating apps that enable it, such as Badoo and Bumble. Fernandez says that hookup culture can be positive for the culture of ASU and its students. 

"I think that it (hookup culture) is healthy because it promotes awareness about sex," Fernandez says. "(And) it opens your eyes to like sex-positive attitudes."

Fernandez does say that there is an important lesson hookups can teach you and that is being more in tune with yourself through your sexuality. 

"Sexuality is about realizing who you are," Fernandez says.

Sexuality is a large part of hookup culture on college campuses. As Fernandez says, it is largely about finding yourself through new relationships and experiences that hookup culture promotes.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly represented the survey by LendEDU. The article has been updated to reflect this change.  


Reach the reporter at mfoxall@asu.edu or follow @mayafoxall on Twitter.

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