Help For On-Line Hookups And Teen Sexual Problems

The “hookup mentality” is a modern day belief that has crept into teen culture that accepts and encourages casual sexual encounters focused on physical pleasure without necessarily including emotional bonding. The term “hookup” has a broad definition because it can range from kissing to any form of physical sexual activity between sexual partners. While “hookups” have been more common among adults and college aged young adults, increasingly, teens at younger and younger ages are engaging in hookups for various reasons from instant sexual gratification to attempts fulfill unmet emotional needs. Numerous websites and social media outlets have emerged creating new opportunities to find hookup partners, even for teens who often pose as adults on adult sites. The hookup becoming increasingly accepted in modern culture is of great concern to parents of teens and psychological professionals, while many moral relativists dismiss their concern as moral panic. A dangerous and all too common trend involves teens hooking up with adults they meet on-line. Often, a teen will post on-line with the goal of soliciting sex and posing under an adult profile.   The use of the internet, smart phone apps and social media make this process so very simple and is the gateway to a world of cyber-sex opportunities.

Some surveys over the past ten years have shown that upwards of 60% or 70% of sexually active teens reported having had uncommitted sex within the last year. This is more common among boys than girls. Among sexually experienced adolescents, 28% of boys and 16% of girls reported losing their virginity to either someone they have just met, or to a friend who is not a dating partner.  Boys are more likely than girls to have several hookup partners at the same time and are also more likely to hookup with someone they are not dating.  The number of teens hooking up with adults they meet and solicit on-line is not known, but counselors working with teens report that these encounters are occurring more frequently.

 STAR Guides Wilderness - Help For On Line Hookups and teen Sexual Problems

For many teens, sex and relationships have been decoupled in part because of the hookup mentality that is increasingly accepted in society.  Experts worry that if society disconnects intimate sexual behavior and emotional connection that teens who hookup will have trouble forming relationships later in life.  Journalist Sabrina Weill asserts that “casual teen attitudes toward sex — particularly oral sex — reflect their confusion about what is normal behavior,” and adds that they “are facing an intimacy crisis that could haunt them in future relationships. ‘When teenagers fool around before they’re ready or have a very casual attitude toward sex, they proceed toward adulthood with a lack of understanding about intimacy.”

Hookups can result in emotional and psychological injury, sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections, and/or unintended pregnancy.   In the case of teens hookingup with adults, the consequences can be devastating.  In most states, these encounters are illegal with the adult being a perpetrator of sexual abuse.  The teen becomes vulnerable to the dark world of sexual exploitation, sex trafficking and prostitution.  The internet is a playground for child predators who seek teens that are willing to engage in sexual activity.

Studies have found that many overwhelmingly regret their hookups. In one study, 77% of students regretted their hookups, and in another 78% of women and 72% of males who had uncommitted vaginal, anal, and/or oral sex regretted the experience. Intercourse that occurred less than 24 hours after meeting, and those that took place only one time are the most likely to be regretted.  Males were more likely to be sorry for having used another person, and females regretted the experience because they felt they had been used. While women usually feel worse after a hook up than men do, 39% of men expressed extreme regret, shame, and frustration with themselves about their hookup experiences.

STAR Guides Wilderness - Help For On Line Hookups and teen Sexual Problems

Hookup mentality has deep emotional effects on teens and the idea that hookups are sex without emotional entanglements is a “myth”. Hookup mentality leads to shame, isolation, disrespect and lack of authentic connection. Many teens in hindsight describe their emotions and feelings in the aftermath of a hookup as miserable, disgusting and deceived. Hookup mentality teaches teens to repress their natural romantic feelings for others, particularly after a sexual encounter. The long-term impact is the inability to enjoy a healthy relationship and an intimacy crisis later in life that can include a long list of mental health problems.

Teens that refuse to recognize the potential risk and damage associated with hookup behavior and persist in engaging in this type of reckless sexual behavior can benefit from participation in a sexual specific treatment program as a means of disrupting this pattern and allowing the opportunity to explore the underlying issues leading to these behaviors.

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