Many people in the region interpret “hookup culture” as a culture in which casual dating and short-lived relationships are encouraged, simply so we can go to sleep with someone living in our minds rent-free.
In the Arab world, there’s a lot of stigma around men and women co-existing in the same environments and so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce how taboo relationships and situation-ships are. Having to sneak around and plan days, weeks or months in advance alone can be a lot to weigh down a person. It leaves a lot of room for distrust between them and their relatives. In a place where the majority of families and people view relationships as a one way ticket to marriage-ville; casual dates and seasonal relationships are relatively new. And frankly terrifying.
So let’s talk generally, why is ‘our’ hookup culture really trash? Well, over time it perpetuates the idea that emotions are temporary, and I think we’ve all had enough pain in our lives to know that that statement really doesn’t stand. Still, we push our past feelings aside and continue to think that the way we feel about people will come and go just as the relationship itself lingers for a moment before the next season starts. Furthermore, it entertains the idea that people themselves are as temporary as the emotions, which in hindsight, does more harm than good.
People can leave the relationship thinking they’re easily replaceable while others begin to lose the emotional capacity to engage with others in a productive way and one that allows them to move forward, healthily. In addition, a lot of people who engage in ‘our’ hookup culture never really make it past the talking stage, cause what’s the point right? We find ourselves meeting someone, through a friend, mutual, or common interest only to talk, catch some form of feeling towards them only to soft block them out of fear of what comes after- commitment.
On the other hand, from a traditional standpoint, hook up culture practically erases the traditional ‘steps’ of finding a relationship, which to our parents can be more terrifying than normal. In their eyes a man and woman are to meet a handful of times, maybe get engaged and inevitably married. Thing is, we as a generation have seen way too many failed marriages; in the media, our families and maybe our own households, to know that we definitely do not want to rush into a relationship, or a lifetime of commitment.
Maybe we don’t realize this in the moment but short-lived flings and situations-ships could really hurt us more than they do us good, when there’s no open communication or an actual understanding of what we want. It also continues to push forward ideas that bring us down, the constant thoughts of “maybe I’m undeserving of love and appreciation” just because no one has ever ‘stuck around’ to see how things pan out, but also because we don’t know if we want anyone to.
I’ll leave you with this, do what makes you happy, just not at the expense of your other emotions. Don’t push away how you feel about where you are in your life to be at the same level as others, don’t tell yourself that having someone when you aren’t prepared is worth the emotional negligence. But also, if you want to casually date, do that. If you want to be sexually active (be safe please), but do that. Your life, your body, your choices. Just remember, no matter what life continues to ‘throw’ at you, there will always be someone by your side. Live your life by your own terms and don’t be afraid to make new traditions for yourself, which includes dropping our crappy rendition of ‘hookup culture’ that isn’t even about hookups at all.