Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Let’s be real — most college students are in a perfect environment for casual sex, and hookups are just as prevalent as dating nowadays. Some people aren’t into that scene, but for those who are, it’s important to know the ropes when entering hookup culture. This isn’t just the basic “use a condom” information (although you obviously should be using a condom, unless you want to run the risk of chlamydia or are ready for parenthood). This is information that will help you maximize the hook-up experience and avoid any hasty decisions one may regret in the long run.

There’s no denying that hooking up has its benefits: You can have lots of sex, change partners easily and avoid relationship stress. However, lots of college students engage in casual sex for the wrong reasons, pick the wrong sexual partner or damage their well-being instead of having fun.

There is only one healthy reason to hook-up, and that is because you really want to and because you fully approve of the decision you are making. According to Zhana Vrangalova, a prominent sex researcher, if two people have casual sex because they genuinely desire to do so without reservations, their overall well-being improves — they experience stress relief and have a good time. However, if someone engages in casual sex with hesitancy, they are likely to be plagued with feelings of guilt, regret or insecurity.

That leads to the several unhealthy reasons to hook-up: because you want to feel better about yourself, because you’re hoping it leads to more, or because you feel pressured. Engaging in a hook-up for these reasons can lead to a general decrease in well-being. Out of 1,468 undergraduate students surveyed in a 2011 study, 27.1 percent felt embarrassed after hooking up, 24.7 percent reported emotional difficulties, 20.8 percent experienced loss of self-respect, and 10 percent reported difficulties with a steady partner. If you feel that casual sex is against your beliefs or just isn’t really your cup of tea, then simply don’t do it. Your mental well-being is at stake.

It’s also important to find the right hook-up buddy. I know not many people consider this, since one-night stands don’t usually involve much of a screening process. But for women, it’s beneficial to know that there are guys who will make you feel less insecure or used after a hookup. And for men, it’s important to not pick a girl who will become super insecure or attached after your hookup.

Women unfortunately run the risk of being slut-shamed in any of these situations; though it is a complete double-standard, it is still an unfortunate reality. To protect yourself from being humiliated, it’s important to make sure you aren’t hooking up with a guy who will later degrade you. So ladies, stay away from generally narcissistic, manipulative or sexist dudes. Note how he talks about women around you or even about you; if he isn’t respectful, he probably will not respect you either, and you could possibly fall into being slut-shamed.

For guys, if you come across a girl who is constantly putting herself down (even jokingly), is talking constantly about an ex, or just seems hesitant about the hookup, don’t go through with it. Find someone who knows she wants a hook-up to have fun, not to get back at an ex or to feel better about herself. Make sure she is confident in her decision; otherwise it will lead to complications or feelings of guilt and regret.

It is also very important to not hook up with someone because you are hoping your casual sex will morph into a loving relationship. In a sample of 507 undergrads, 29 percent of men and 42.9 percent of women claimed they hoped their hook-up would turn into something more; however only about 6 percent of these undergrads combined actually got past the first one-night stand. So it is very unlikely that having casual sex with someone will lead to anything more than just casual sex. If you want a relationship, maybe try hanging out as friends or going on a date first; if the person you’re interested in wants to jump straight to sex, maybe that’s all they really want.

Women need to be especially careful during and after a hook-up. Sexual activity releases oxytocin, also known as the “attachment hormone,” and is very strong in women. Sometimes the female body will trick a girl into thinking she is romantically interested in her fling, and this can lead to feelings of hurt and rejection. To prevent this, girls should allow themselves a few days after a hook-up to cool off, to not contact their hook-up buddy and to focus on other things. Remind yourself that it’s just your oxytocin acting up. Those tricky feelings will evaporate by the end of the week.

It’s also very important to note that casual sex needs to be absolutely, unquestionably consensual. If there is not a definite “yes” from both parties, you are risking jail time.

So, hopefully after reading these pointers, you can engage in hook-ups like a pro. Just remember to do it for the right reasons, to be careful who you sleep with and always be safe.