Hookup culture on Kent State campus

Kody Elsayed

Click. The phone lights up. Click. A picture of an underwhelming person appears. Swipe left. They disappear. Click. The next picture shows an attractive person sitting and smiling on a beach. Swipe right. It’s a match. 

Quick messages, exchange of social media names and a final decision for a promised night on the town attracted Natalie Berry, a senior applied communications student, to meet with a guy from Tinder in Cleveland.

“He was flirting with me hardcore, saying cute and romantic things,” Berry said.

Once in the city, Berry enjoyed a night on the town with this guy and his friends. Dinner, drinks and dancing were on the agenda and the night was one Berry will always remember.

With excitement in the air, Berry ended up hooking up with this guy and left Cleveland the next morning. He had asked to see her again soon, and Berry agreed to make plans.

But he had another plan. 

“After I left, he completely ghosted me and I have not heard from him since,” Berry said.

With hookups as part of college life today, there are some emotional consequences for students.

“In today’s society, it’s more widely acceptable to have one-night stands than any generation before,” said Lauren Cavanaugh, a senior integrated studies major.

After four years at Kent State, Cavanaugh said the campus has an active hookup culture mentality.

Hookups are between two or more parties who consent to having non-committed sex.

It can be one time only or multiple times, Cavanaugh said. 

Hookup culture has become more accessible through apps like Tinder. Tinder struggles to be viewed as a dating app, said the thesis “The Effects of Technology on College Life” by Tracy June Dye, a past senior thesis student at the University of South Carolina – Columbia.

Reports say Tinder is more than just a hookup app, implying the app has been branded as a hookup culture tool more than an online dating option, said the thesis by Dye. 

Dating apps have affected Kent State students who use the app for friendship, love and more, reported Maria McGinnis in her article on dating apps in college.

Issues can come from pursuing relationships and having these negative experiences, said Dr. Pamela Farer-Singleton, chief psychologist at the DeWeese Health Center.

“People start off with basic attraction and from attraction they are in a sexual relationship and then they have to work backwards to really figure out who they are in bed with,” Farer-Singleton said. 

With the experience on Tinder, Berry has now experienced the emotional hurt from hookup culture. 

“It’s not easy for some people and it’s not for everyone,” Berry said. “It’s certainly not for me and I’ve tried getting into it.”

Hookup culture can hurt people emotionally, Berry said.

“They skip over thinks like friendship, shared values and beliefs, having any idea of what that person’s values are, or what their beliefs are about the world,” Farer-Singleton said.

Some of the hurt students struggle to cope with the challenges of making connections in the digital era, Farer-Singleton said. 

“I see that students don’t even know how to engage in a face-to-face way with other students as they should,” Farer-Singleton said.

As a result, when the relationship does not develop into more beyond sex, some students suffer emotional damage. 

“They feel less lovable, less desirable, less capable of having an on-going loving relationship,” Farer-Singleton said.

When that emotional damage continues into some students lives, the emotional tool can become deeper.

“It’s almost like they are constantly looking for that approval, that love and that connection,” Farer-Singleton said, “but, they are connecting with people in way that’s very insincere.” 

Knowing that some students do not take the time to make connections with partners before having sexual relations, Farer-Singleton said she has key advice for students.

“Take your time, really get to know who you are dealing with,” Farer-Singleton said.

Kody Elsayed covers relationships. Contact him at [email protected].