Frankie Mancini / Gavel Media

Hookups, Valentines, and BC Culture

Can’t get a valentine? How about a BC Look Away instead?!

Sorry, girl that hooked up with that hot TA in the Mods last weekend, you don’t get a valentine. Neither do you, girl that [generic male name] invited over that one time his roommate was quarantined in UHS with the stomach flu. And boy that only gets invited to MWF girl's apartment at 2 a.m. when no one else is around, you absolutely are not getting a valentine.

There will be no valentines coming from those random hook-ups that happen regularly at Boston College. BC, like many institutions, has a strong hook-up culture. On campus, there are far fewer people in relationships—or even people just going on real dates—than there are one night stands or casual friends with benefits. After these fateful nights, people tend to then ignore their hook-up and sometimes even refuse to acknowledge their existence on campus. There is a strong culture of having sex for the sake of having sex.

Students often refer to dating sites in order to match with other individuals of their age. These apps have a strong stigma that they are primarily used for casual activities and not for long term relationships. It is normal to not want to get emotionally involved with people, especially when we are all young and trying to “have fun,” but the general feeling on campus is that relationships are few and far between, and most people do not want to trend towards embracing them more. Even though BC has a strong alumni marriage rate, most students choose to remain emotionally uninvolved while on campus.

Feeling cynical about the dating culture, I took the questions straight to you! What do real students think about the dating and hookup culture on campus? With over 240 responses from a Facebook survey only accessible to BC students, there were a lot of opinions on the matter.

Surprisingly enough, we are not all douchebags who seek immediate gratification. There are quite a few sensitive souls among us that are looking for love but cannot find it at BC because of the current social/romance scene. We want valentines.

On a scaled poll regarding the hookup culture at BC, students had the option to choose from two opposites “I love being able to do whatever I want” and “I prefer having a consistent partner”.  More than half (63%) of respondents chose to side with consistency, 36.2% of which completely preferring being involved with someone on a more consistent level. It is inferred that consistency involves more emotions and dating style interaction, whereas “doing whatever” tends to have the one-nighter connotation. 22.1% were indifferent to the matter. Only 14.9% of responses showed that they preferred complete freedom with their hookups, with a minority 6% completely preferring it.

So why is it that if students prefer having a more consistent partner, that there are so few partners on campus? Where has the love gone? Can it be found again?

Contrary to the stereotypical culture, most people do want more than just physical interactions, but they are having a hard time finding it. Unexpectedly, only 19.1% of the surveyed admitted to using dating apps for sexual purposes. The other 79.9% either chose not to use dating apps at all or used them in hopes of finding something more regular or serious. Without people asking each other out on campus, people have to resort to looking online. Almost 30% of students have looked for more than just a hookup through a dating app.

The winner of most popular dating app goes to Tinder, followed by Bumble and then the new and upcoming app Hinge. Tinder is the most stigmatized app for sex and 50.8% of students have admitted to using the app during college (either for sex or for more). If so many students have resorted to these apps, why is it not possible to reestablish a dating culture on campus? Now, I am not saying that everyone should be in a committed relationship, but it may be nice to see people treating each other with more respect, dignity, and appreciation. Part of this just might be improving the hookup culture.

75.1% of respondents wished that there was more of a dating culture on campus. Only 11.8% did not want more of a dating culture, and the other 13.1% weren’t sure where they stood on their dating culture preference. Some people expressed that they believed there already was a dating culture, while others agreed that college was a time to cut loose and explore, whether that be through dating or one-timers; it is a time to do whatever without too much pressure.

Most of the population wants love. When asked what they would rather feel: 1. the freedom of not having a relationship (I do what I want, with who I want, whenever I want), 2. the thrill that comes with a one night stand  (one and done baby), 3.the feeling of equally returned love (serious relationship), 4. the exclusiveness of sex but no emotions involved ("fuck buddy"), or 5. the benefits that come with having a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner (short/long term), the answers were pretty soft. The two most popular answers, by far, were the feeling of equally returned love, and the benefits that come with having a partner. Only 13% of responses showed that the freedom of not having a relationship was preferred. In addition, only 3% of people vouched feeling the thrill of a one-nighter.

The majority of students would care to have a more serious relationship. This is reflected in the responses given when the question “how do you perceive those in relationships on campus?”. Some answers were funny while others were rational, some were sad, but most people viewed relationships positively.

Here's what some of you had to say about romantic connections on campus:

Not too nice, not too cool:

  • “Lots of drama”
  • “Married couples” (a lot of students agree that the relationship can be TOO serious)
  • “Gross af”
  • “Not many healthy relationships”
  • “Some of them look happy but some of them just flaunt each other on instagram”
  • “Relationships are the minority”
  • “Appa relationships are weird” (surprisingly a lot of you said this….ha)
  • “WAY too much PDA”
  • “Boring”
  • “Superficial, temporary instant gratification. Somewhat immature”
  • “Too focused on each other”

Very cool, very nice:

  • “I’m jealous of them” (too many to count said the same thing)
  • “Junior year seems to be when people are looking for more of a committed relationship and less of the one-night stands”
  • “It is something that I eventually want to have”
  • “Happier than those who are just hooking up” (Happy!!!! Happiness was hugely emphasized)
  • “I love when I hear about people dating on campus!!! I always admire them and also question how they were able to get into a relationship on campus when I am hardcore struggling to do the same.”
  • “Depends on how showy they are about their relationships. Usually I consider them lucky”
  • “I think relationships are the best way to go about being a mentally and sexually healthy individual if you want to have a romantic fling or anything. Hookup culture only leads to hurting you and hurting your future partner even more in the future with excessive anxiety of knowing your past presence on campus and who you've been with.”
  • “I wish I had that. A healthy stable relationship where both people live within a ten minute walk from each other or less? Amazing”
  • “They are very committed to each other, have likely been together for a long time or are planning on being together for a long time. Not much of a casual dating scene, you're either very committed or "just hooking up" for like six months.”

It is highlighted that not many relationships are seen on campus, probably because people think of them as being fake or “too much.” Conversely, when there is a known relationship, people often hope for a similar feeling or experience. As privileged college students in Boston, there are so many opportunities to meet people, even if they aren’t on our specific campus (just remember to stay away from BU). This is a time in our lives where we are able to spend a lot of time with friends and with partners. At this age it is important to learn the value of intimacy and how crucial it is to have trust in a relationship. Consistent sexual safety and consent fuel a healthy relationship. A lot of terrible things can result from the hookup culture.

So, this Valentine's Day, I challenge you to talk to someone that you’re interested in. Strive to make a connection with someone if you are looking for something more than a quick fuck. 87% of surveyed respondents believe in love. Let’s try to share that love and find it together.

By working together as a community, we can build a healthier environment where it is okay to be vulnerable. Dating is not your worst enemy. It may introduce you to your next best friend and lover.

I hope next year you’ll be able to get that valentine.

Wicked loyal Boston local with a penchant for big dogs and Klondike Bars. I once heard someone call a raccoon a trash panda, and I've never identified with anything more.