Sometimes you really can’t have one without the other.

Science & Nature Essay
Written by Nathan Mattise

Alright, full disclosure. I had my first real hook-up this year.

You know what I’m talking about: the “I’ve seen you around campus-now we’re at this party-you’re cute-I’m cute” ordeal. One night of semi-irresponsible fun that may or may not have turned into three nights of semi-irresponsible calls after midnight followed by driving someone home at 7 a.m.

I don’t regret it for a moment. I think safe sexual activity is a healthy part of growing up (and no, we didn’t have sex. Sexual activity is different). We briefly even gave the whole hanging out thing a try, but our intentions were just different. Our personalities just didn’t quite match up. It didn’t work out and our three nights were what they were – just fun.

Now, I’ve been reading a lot about how this hook-up culture is so prevalent and how it carries with it traumatic side effects. Loads of college kids are getting wasted and taking multiple partners every weekend. Sexually transmitted diseases are spreading. Self-esteems are affected and stress starts entering the equation. Etc., etc., etc. I can’t deny this exists, but I’d argue it’s overdramatized. I know there are people who make decisions like this and experiences like this arise, but I’ve very seldom heard of them. As a relatively average college male, I certainly didn’t experience any of it until September. Even then I was extremely lucky and just had the event with none of the aftereffect, or at least I thought so.

The hook-up thing has left me with an empty feeling in retrospect, but not because I’m craving that level of physicality again. A real relationship with anyone in a sexual manner involves two main components, not one. I was fine being single and just enjoying my life, then along came a physical connection for the first time in a long time. But now as much as I enjoyed passionate friction and the touching of lips, I’m craving what I didn’t get even more…

Yep. I’m a college male who is dying for some emotional connection.

If you were to judge this situation through the lens of society, I’m a huge freak. Take a look at any dumb comedy, any sleezy male magazine, any negative critique of the college man… the goal is always what I had. No strings attached, just strings intertwined. But, to anyone who like me may have the academic and professional experiences but who’s clearly lacking social real world training, hooking up without any real connection is the emptier than Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. And similiarly it just leaves you hungry for what you don’t have.

So now I find myself overly frustrated because I don’t have a counterpart to sit on the couch and watch John Cusack movies with. I’m disappointed that no one joins me on a walk at night when you can just barely see your breath. As much as I complain about how a girlfriend is annoying when you’re up until 4 a.m. talking, I miss being good tired. The feeling just leaves me reaching in places where nothing is there and getting discouraged from what should be expected results. You can’t create these types of connections out of thin air, but sampling column A makes you desperate for column B.

In the end, would I do it all over again? I’m not sure. I have no regrets about what happened, just regrets about what didn’t. That’s why when you look at my recently played on iTunes, The Postal Service and The Format are littering it. When this starts to happen, you know. There are really side-effects to what seems to be even the most innocent of hook-ups.

(Links today via -NYT Online, and YouTube)

Please e-mail Nate and tell him you’re glad he started writing again, but if he wants to cry about it he should stick to his journal.

1 Comment

Filed under Essays, Science & Nature

One response to “Sometimes you really can’t have one without the other.

  1. Diana

    nate, i think a lot of young men feel the way you do and i wish you the best of luck. i thoroughly enjoyed reading your account and hope that an emotional connection comes your way soon.

    best of luck
    go orange!

    Diana Z. Kamens
    (detroit, michigan)

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