Hook-up culture, baby. It's in, it's hot, it's fast-paced and it's a millennial and Gen Z love language.
My fabulous aunty said to me, "Lillie, you've been in Auckland a year and you haven't been on a date."
I might have rolled my eyes and said "how on earth am I meant to go on a date when they are harder to come by then a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?" which of course, was me being a drama queen and slightly exaggerating.
I've been asked on dates. One was okay and the rest resulted in either being stood up, ghosted, being invited to their house - which we all know is a not a real date, or the guy was way too interested, and I got the ick (being grossed out by a man you were once giving heart-eyes to).
In short, I don't have a lot of experience with traditional dating but I'm not mad about it. Sitting across from someone telling them everything about yourself sounds like a nightmare, especially for a socially awkward generation that shows their interest in someone by swiping right on Tinder and sending a "u up?" text on a Saturday night.
And after coming to terms with the fact I'm enabling this behaviour as the new norm, I couldn't help but wonder, has hook-up culture killed traditional romance?
During a wine and whine session with my BFF we talked about how hard it is to meet someone who's not a commitment-phobe. Whether it is a full on, in your face, sickly sweet relationship or a hot, saucy, friends with benefits situation, it seems no one wants exclusiveness.
And it's not really a big deal. At least not for me.
After a couple of broken hearts, staying away from a committed relationship and anything remotely serious, sounds like a good idea. But I'm not about to become a nun. I'm still a human and I still crave human connection, which is why hook-up culture ticks all the boxes.
You get attention and human connection from a hook-up without having to put in the work and vulnerability a traditional romance requires. It's a win-win if you're emotionally unavailable, but this only explains part of hook-up culture, it doesn't explain why people are commitment-phobes, so I hooked up with a hook-up culture enthusiast.
He said hook-ups are great because he is building his career and has no time for a relationship. He still goes for drinks with his hook-up, but it's called "hanging out" because calling it a date is way too much pressure and gives the wrong impression of his true intentions.
But there must be more to it.
So I consulted with Kyle MacDonald, psychotherapist and relationship counsellor, and here's what he had to say.
Q: Hook-up culture has changed the dating landscape, what are the positive effects of this new way of dating?
A: It isn't really that much of a change, although some people may object on moral grounds. We've always met people, got to know them and then figured out if they are a good match or not for some kind of further relationship. I think it's important not to overstate how different this is: it seems to me there is simply more freedom, and more openness to casual sex. As long as everyone is consenting, and clear about what the nature of the relationships are, then what's the problem?
Q: What are the negative effects?
A: Of course, it can be true that for some, sex can be substituted for intimacy - but that has always been true. One-night stands aren't exactly a new thing. And of course, in any casual sexual encounter consent, safety and being able to communicate clearly is always vital.
Q: Why do you think hook-up culture is so popular and preferred over traditional dating?
A: I think it largely relates to the wider culture of more individual freedom and less judgemental and mortal prohibitions about sexual expression. Every generation challenges the traditions of their parents, and this is one way that many young people are doing things differently than we are.
So, there you have it my friends, hook-up culture isn't a new thing, and in my opinion, that means it hasn't killed old-fashioned romance.
Chivalry isn't dead, you just can't find it on Tinder or behind the 3am "u up?" text.