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Playing With Fire: Avoiding the Risks of Hookups

Hooking up is not a new practice. It is, however, beginning to be socially acceptable. These days it seems like everyone’s doing it, and well, if you haven’t experimented with hooking up, you probably will, too. While it is exciting to list off Saturday night conquests to a lunch table of your closest girlfriends, hooking up can go horribly wrong. Thus, in order to have the most enjoyable experience possible, I’ve gathered some tips from my own experience and other online resources about how to play with this particular fire as safely as possible.

First off, it is essential you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. If you’ve fully prepared yourself to go out, hook a guy, have crazy hookup sex and then never see him again- you’re in a better place than if you somehow expect that your hook-up will turn into anything more than a night of really good (or potentially, really bad) sex. Definitely do not go into a hookup expecting a relationship. Less than a quarter of hookups turn into relationships, according to Sharon Jayson, author of the book “Unhooked.”

Secondly, think before you drink. Hooking up generally happens in the context of alcohol. The point is not to avoid drinking, as it usually makes hookups more fun, but to control the amount of alcohol you consume so that you can at least be somewhat choosy about who you end up going home with. Also avoid date or acquaintance rape by watching your drinks. Don’t ever leave a drink and come back to it. Who knows what’s happened to it. And, if you go to a party, make sure you know the host can clear the alcohol if it’s produced en masse (think “Jungle Juice” or any kind of punch).

Practice safe sex by using condoms and birth control. Although your chances of coming out of a hookup unscathed aren’t completely 100%, you can save a lot of hassle by remembering that Trojan. If you’re worried the day after, take a Morning-After pill. You can normally get those at places like Planned Parenthood. Be sure as well to get STD checks at least twice a year.

And finally, know the consequences. Despite the Free Love and Sex movement of the 1960s and 1970s, there is still a double standard. Men can get away with sleeping with a variety of women and often simply be known as a pimp or a player, women who hook up freely get pinned with titles like “whore” or “slut.” Particularly be careful of this double standard when hooking up amongst the same group of people (e.g. sports teams, fraternities or office settings). And if you do really want a relationship, remember that hooking up may be more harmful than beneficial in the long run to you because while you’re out hooking up with Mr. Right Now, you may lose sight of Mr. Right.

So there you have it. With a little help from a margarita and some really hot music, you may be in for one inhibition-free night. Just do it cautiously. Like playing with fire, hookups are thrilling and fascinating. Just be aware that you may get burned.