I am lucky to have a close friend who, like me, enjoys deep discussions about sex and society. She dates women instead of men and is against casual sex, but she doesn’t judge me for my choices and is mentally quite curious. Last week, after my umpteenth online OKC conversation with a thirty to fifty year old man, I started complaining to her of how the new hookup culture had ruined modern man. Anne was like, “But Vivi, didn’t we hookup in college too?” “Of course”, I said. “But we were buzzed and it was normal, youthful experimentation. As long as you didn’t go all the way or make-out with a jerk, you came out reasonably unscathed. And it was fun!” Flash ahead 20 years and we are in a much more permissive world regarding sex. Plus, we are often choosing our mates by looking at their photos online and selecting them only after reading their profiles. For the past 10 years I have found it fun to chat with men online and see if we clicked. It’s all about deciphering if they had a sense of humor, could spell, flirt and actually find clever and fascinating subjects to converse about. Often you knew after three or four exchanges if there was a spark, and your suitor would propose a drink or dinner before setting a date with a proper time and place to meet. But this year? 50% of the messages start out ‘how kinky are you?’ or ‘give me your number and let me text you it’s easier.’ It was all about instant gratification. Couldn’t they plan even three days in advance? “Can’t they read Anne? It says NO hookups. I am only listed under dating!” I blurted. “Vivi, you already learned that giving out your number before they set a time and place doesn’t work. But it certainly did fill your phone with dick pics,” she added chuckling. It was pretty funny even though penis photos do absolutely nothing for me. “Why are you blaming the hookup for your problems finding suitors?” Anne started back, reminding me of some of my more daring intimate encounters. Yes, I had slept with men on a first date, but it wasn’t just a swipe right, let’s meet in 30 minutes and f***. My suitors had actually charmed me through flirtation and innuendo. No nude photos were exchanged and no four-letter words were allowed. When we met, there was sensuality and kissing, laughing and sharing. In an intimate encounter, fling, or affair, passion existed as the men tried to please their woman, with the hope of a second date and more pleasure. And maybe even a long term romance built on mutual admiration and passion! “But Anne, these guys just want to jump in and skip all the foreplay, even verbal foreplay! There is no desire for real communication.” I sighed, shaking my head. “Sort of like Aaron and his porn?” She questioned.” When he would skip the eight-minute warm-up of two girls kissing before the stud showed up and started nailing them? So hookups are like fast food and porn – all dirty words?” “Exactly,” I mumbled. “Maybe each is OK once in a blue moon as an adventure, but a steady diet of them seems to be habit forming and is certainly not healthy.” We both went silent for a bit while she digested the conversation. Anne finds all non-relationship sex unappealing and unrewarding, so she was trying to wrap her head around the subtleties. Hookup can mean a lot, but its no-strings-attached implications often seems to mean with no female orgasm attached either. Declaring the encounter a hookup or NSA before you start the kissing seems truly sad. Where are the hopes and dreams? Don’t we all want a thread of memory or joy to remain after sensual sharing? No strings – no connection, really? It’s just a term, but the seemingly innocent ring of let’s hookup leaves out the fact that the mind is a big part of the linking and connecting in a sexual escapade. In just 20 years, how did we get from buzzed make-out sessions that might have gotten a bit too steamy to quickies with strangers we might never see again? Men (and women) can easily find sex with no relationship or ties. Hookup culture is so pervasive that many young people haven’t even bothered to learn the art of flirting and dating. The Sensualogist proposes a slight return to the past and a ban on the term hookup. Why set your rendezvous up for one-time status when you could make it so much more? Pace yourself, and savor your sex. When deciding if some pre-relationship or non-relationship sex is for right you, be wise. Sample casual sex in moderation, picking a like-minded partner, and setting the tone of your date before meeting. Communicate this and make it truly satisfying for yourself, not just your partner. If you are feeling the urge to experiment, great tips can also be found in “Is Casual Sex Bad for You,” where there are wise words from expert Dr. Zhana of the Casual Sex Project.