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How Stanford’s hookup culture taught me self-love

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Before coming to Stanford, I was a certified hookup virgin the only time I had been with someone was when I had been with someone. The prospect of “hooking up” with someone I wasn’t in a relationship with was something that I hadn’t even thought of, let alone done. So, it’s pretty obvious why I entered a state of shock after plunging into the cold water of Stanford’s hookup culture.

Like a number of freshmen, I came to Stanford while still in a long-distance relationship. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that, with all the classes and extracurriculars and new people, I just didn’t have time to put in the amount of effort that long distance relationships require. Forget finding space for sexy time I barely had time to ask how my boyfriend’s day was. So, I did what I knew was best for both my own mental health and maintaining our friendship: I ended things.

Being single was a new concept to me, and it was definitely a rough transition at first. Eventually, though, I healed and began walking on my own again. Everything going on around me continued, so I did the same. I went to my classes. I started going to more parties. I began talking to new people.

As can be expected, my dormmates were doing the same, and, while I sat in my shallow well of singleness, I listened to their whirlwind stories of love and lust. They told tales of that “crazy” thing that happened the night before, giggling and glowing, and I just sat, unaware yet curious of what I was missing out on.

So, I tried it.

There are quite a few things I learned from my hook up experiences.

  1. “Hooking up” doesn’t necessarily mean sex — don’t mistake macking for smashing.
  2. Twin beds were not made for two bodies.
  3. Please, for the love of anything you hold close, do not lead with tongue.
  4. Bras are tricky contraptions for people unfamiliar with each other’s bodies.
  5. The walk of shame is a real thing.
  6. Trying the “friends with benefits” thing with someone you tell everything to does not work. If they’re your bud, it’s best to leave them as your bud.

All of these lessons are important in their own way. However, the most important thing I took away from my hookup experience was this: self-love is so, so vital in relationships where lust takes the lead.

It’s easy to lose yourself in the hurried motions of dropped clothing and stolen breaths. Sometimes, people can find themselves looking for physical comfort as replacement for their own comfort with themselves. But people come and go, and with hookup cultures as potent as those on college campuses, it’s important to understand that there is one person who should always be there for you: yourself.

You can’t wonder too much about why some people don’t stick around longer, and you can’t really compare yourself to the other people they’re hooking up with, either. Don’t degrade yourself you’re worth more than that.

Instead: enjoy yourself. Have fun. Participate in the hookup scene; don’t participate in the hookup scene. Make out with that random guy you met at AmErican Pi, or simply go back to the dorm, sip a cup of hot cocoa and go to sleep. Whatever floats your boat, do it safely. And “safely” doesn’t just mean “use protection”; “safely” also means to be careful with your mind and your heart.

From my experience, people make decisions based on one of three things: what’s in their head, what’s in their chest or what’s between their legs. Whatever you decide with, don’t neglect the other two, whichever those two may be.

 

Contact Damian Marlow at ddrue ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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