Therapy That Works...

Gearing Advantage

Doctors Sylvia and Milton Gearing have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1985 with compassion and professionalism.

The Gearings implement the latest in psychological research to stay at the cutting edge of their field and bring the most effective and life changing techniques to their clients.

Their methods and strategies have been sharpened over the years, and are now built upon Gearing Up’s Three Gears of Change.

Hooking Up! - May 15, 2008

Hooking Up! Sex, Love and Dating Among Twentysomethings

May 15, 2008

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Relationships between men and women have never been more complicated. With many singles "hooking up" rather than committing to long term, monogamous relationships, psychologists are reporting some disturbing new facts about the "hook up" culture. Here to tell us more is TXA 21 Contributing Psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Q: What exactly does "hooking up" refer to?

Dr. Sylvia: Hooking up refers to sexual intimacy without strings and it is one of the most profound changes that have affected American relationships in the last century. This practice is now the definitive standard for initial connecting among late teens and twentysomethings. The term describes the fleeting, one night sexual encounters between acquaintances or even with virtual strangers. Twentysomethings routinely engage in more high-risk sexual behaviors than any previous generation. Studies report that up to 80% of undergraduates engage in "hooking up" and those are the encounters we know about!

Q: Why has it become such a cultural phenomenon?

Dr. Sylvia: There are several reasons:

Sign of the Times: Hooking up began with the sixties, birth control and alcohol combined with rock and roll. Over the last thirty to forty years, there has been a violent shift away from the progressive steps of dating and courting. We "mate" before we "relate."

Alpha Women: Women are more sexually aggressive than ever. They become sexually active around 17 but they don't marry for a full decade. Hooking up allows them to experiment sexually without committing to a monogamous relationship while they pursue their education and careers. They also enjoy being the sexual aggressor.

Hanging Out in Groups: Hooking Up is a reflection of the "hanging out" culture of young people. Since education is such a protracted process, twentysomethings tend to hang out in big groups for many years. Hooking up thrives in an environment that is casual and laden with alcohol.

Q: Do the Internet and all our new communication technology promote this culture of instant relating?

Dr. Sylvia:

Digital Media: Most twentysomethings communicate digitally through texting and computers. Such communication means encourage the bold, scandalous invitations that lead to last minute hooking up.

Impulsive Culture: American adolescents and twentysomethings spend approximately eight hours per day on the Internet, watching movies, texting, listening to music, etc. These outlets are saturated with images of sexual promiscuity, instant gratification and celebrities without limits. Pick up any prominent women's magazine and the covers "scream" this type of relating.

Q: Is there a double standard of hooking up between the genders?

Dr. Sylvia: There absolutely is a sexual double standard and participating in the hookup culture can be dangerous for both genders. We give men a lot more leeway in these encounters than we do women. The men are congratulated for conquests while women are labeled. However, in this new age of "girl power" many women relish their own sexual conquests.

Q: Do the genders share the same philosophy about hooking up?

Dr. Sylvia: Men and women look at hooking up from totally different points of view. Men enjoy the status quo of hooking up and if a relationship developed as a result of an encounter, that's just fine. They have a lot of power and control the intensity of the relationship. On the other hand, the female viewpoint falls along two lines. Some girls hope that the encounter will evolve into a relationship so hooking up is the first step in the potential relationship. The second group of women is fiercely committed to sexual freedom and power. They are disillusioned by love and avoid committed relating. Hooking up is regarded as a hobby.

Q: Any suggestions for our viewers if they are involved in such activities or are worried about someone?

Dr. Sylvia:

Beware of Dangers: Hooking up is dangerous. Don’t have sex with someone whom you don't know very well. There could be diseases, legal entanglements and psychological issues that can harm you.

Cart Before the Horse: Do not begin this habit of substituting physical intimacy for emotional connection. It is much more difficult to focus on building the fundamentals of a relationship once you have introduced sex. Twenty and thirtysomething couples now have the highest rates of sexual dysfunction, in part because of the hooking up culture.