A Relationship Coach's View: The Damage Of College Hook-Ups


The potentially damaging emotional effects of hooking-up can lead to wrong love mindsets.

Popular in today’s culture among many college students, hook-ups do create anxiety and depression rather than a sense of well-being according to a recent study led by researchers from California State University, Sacramento. The results suggest “casual sex was positively associated with psychological distress.”

It is estimated that between 60 and 80 percent of college students have been involved in at least one hook-up. Not too surprisingly, the data from another recent study revealed that students participated in this behavior based on media portrayals of relationships. Sex outside of marriage is promoted as the normal progression of mutual attraction. Dating can easily turn from “getting to know you” to “let’s meet up and hook-up.” Once that boundary line has been crossed, it is very difficult to turn back and refocus on building mutual trust and respect.

Because women generally have more emotionally invested in hook-ups, here are a few reasons why you should avoid taking this step towards expressing your mutual attraction.

He may not (and probably will not) call you again. That embarrassing feeling you get after spending a very intimate night with someone you really don’t know at all easily rolls into a mountain of panic and guilt when he ignores you. You give him a day, maybe two to check in; but nothing happens. You rationalize that one text to say you were thinking of him would be okay. He doesn’t reply to that text ... or any of your other attempts to reconnect. It’s like the whole thing never happened. Believing the “best” part of going with the attraction is the spontaneity of the moment, you soon realize the lack of attachment turns out to be an emotional nightmare and hurts your heart. The most precious and intimate gift was handed over to someone who does not want to see you again.

He tells his friends. The impression people have about your character does matter, even in college. A committed relationship and marriage may not be on your radar, but that does not mean you won’t meet your future spouse in college. You start accepting hook-ups as a dating norm like going to the movies, you may not like the label others place on you. Not everyone is participating, no matter how widespread you perceive it to be.

You equate love to sex. Ask people who have a high satisfaction in their committed relationship and you will find intimacy is the outpouring of the emotional and spiritual connection within the relationship. Strong physical attraction is not the foundation they have built on, but view intimacy as the icing on the cake of their love. If you participate in hook-ups regularly, you will form a pattern that will be difficult to break. The last thing you want to see is all your friends pairing up, getting married and starting families while you are stuck in the addiction of chasing what you think is love through physical intimacy.

Guarding one’s heart and emotions should not be taken lightly, especially in college during young adulthood.  It is these early dating tendencies that develop into norms; reflecting one’s life concerning self image, perceptions towards relationships and worthiness to receive love.

During my extensive career as a relationship coach, I have discovered the most priceless gift you can give the person you love is your whole self: heart and body. Do not squander that opportunity for quick, momentary physical closeness with someone you do not know.

Nancy Pina is a highly recognized author, relationship coach and speaker. She is dedicated to helping individuals attract emotionally healthy relationships through her practical, Christian-based advice. Visit here for articles, exercises, coaching options and recent books.