Our view: The pressures of hooking up


Graphic by Eva McCord ’21.

Tower Editorial Board

In high school, it is natural to end up in a situation one wouldn’t ordinarily like to be in.  With social pressures to conform to standards that can be uncomfortable for some, like hooking up, many students end up doing things they likely would never do had they not been pressured.

According to school psychologist Lisa Khoury, hookups are a variation of casual dating and are not a new phenomena, however there are several risks associated with this seemingly-normal event.

We at the Tower urge all students to consider their actions carefully and to seek assistance when faced with an uncomfortable situation.

Despite social claims that hooking up in high school is just for fun or is harmless, serious consequences are likely to result from this.  According to Khoury, these consequences can range from low self-esteem to rape or other sexual violence.

A 2007 study found that unwanted sex often occurs in the context of a hookup,” Khoury said.  “Studies also show that using alcohol or drugs increases the chance of an unwanted hookup, where the pressure is too great to resist effectively.”

While hooking up can refer to something minor like kissing, this can quickly escalate into something major, like intercourse.

The risks also vary according to gender.  According to Khoury, women tend to get more emotionally involved in a hookup than men, desiring a romantic relationship as an outcome of a hookup.

According to Khoury, a 2012 study said 78 percent of women and 72 percent of men regretted a sexual hookup.  Sexual hookups can seem to be a normal, casual occurrence, yet emotional and physical consequences also result from these.

The Tower believes it is important for students to avoid situations they are uncomfortable with and to make their own choices.

“The best defense for this pressure is to take some time now to think about who you are as a person and what you believe in,” Khoury said. “Let these foundations (values) guide all your decisions.”

Despite the belief that a hookup will be just a casual thing with no emotional effects, a psychological response can be immediate and automatic, according to Khoury. These basic human responses cannot be undone, and may lead to other consequences, such as depression or other emotional and psychological injuries.

Situations people are uncomfortable with will arise throughout everyone’s life, and it is important to consider personal standards and levels of tolerance before engaging in risky activity.

“Measure the pressure to do something to that of your values,” Khoury said. “(Ask yourself) “Does this action meet my standards?  By doing this action, am I being true to myself? Am I short-changing myself?”’

With social pressures to conform to often-uncomfortable standards, it is easy to end up in bad situations. The Tower encourages students in such situations to put their personal standards above society’s and consider their own mental and physical well-being before engaging in potentially harmful acts.