The headlines are conflicting, if not misleading. One set laments the “hook-up culture” believed by some to be common among millennials, while another suggests a significant number are not sexually active at all.
So, what is the deal with millennials and dating?
Dr. Gary Glick is an assistant professor of psychology at The University of Mississippi who studies close relationships in the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Glick says that the media panic over hook-up culture changing the way college students relate to one another is not based in reality.
“[Hook-up culture] is something that has been happening,” said Dr. Glick. “We now just have a term for it, so people think that it is a new phenomenon.”
Glick says that he doesn’t believe current college students are more casual about dating. The data that he has worked with suggest most sexual activities among college students happen within the context of a relationship.
But the definitions of relationships may have changed. Lauren Veline is a graduate student at the university who has found herself in a number of what some may call non-traditional relationships thoughout her time in college.
“I don’t really know how to describe some of my relationships beyond complicated,” Veline said. “I have also been apart of serious monogamous relationships and equally serious polyamorous ones.”
Polyamourous is defined as having more than one serious or sexual relationship going at a time. Veline jokes that, because she identifies as a lesbian, any relationship she has will be testing the notion of what is normal for college students.
She says that the dating climate she has observed in college has felt more casual due to the emergence of dating apps, like Tinder and Grindr, helping people to more easily locate potential partners.
Dr. Glick, on the other hand, says that while these apps do make it easier to find a partner, they are not used as seriously by college students as they are by young adults in their later twenties.
“There was a study that came out a few years ago that found almost half of Tinder users to not even be single,” Glick said. “A lot of people are just using it as a game.”
Emily Sigler is a senior at The University of Mississippi who has been in the same relationship since she was a 16-year-old high school student. Sigler said she followed her boyfriend, William Dean, to school at Ole Miss to maintain the relationship and is glad she did.
“I found what I love to do in my time here and so did [Dean],” Sigler said.
She says open communication and trust have kept them together.
“We never even worry about cheating because we know everything that the other person does,” Sigler said.
Sigler and Dean are getting married just two weeks after they both graduate from college — the ultimate hook up.
Story by Huntington Maddrey: firstname.lastname@example.org.