The hook-up

I am delighted to say that I am back from vacation, renewed and refreshed, and ready to dive back in to the daily fray.

One of the places I went on vacation was a Unitarian Universalist family church camp. This is a place I have gone for many years, and I saw many old friends while I was there. One of the topics of conversation over the week was how many adolescents and adults hook-up while they are there. (A hook-up can generally be described as having a romantic and/or sexual attraction to someone and acting on it for part or the duration of the week. It does not always mean sexual intercourse, but does imply some sexual activity.) The intensity of being away from home, with many new people, most of whom have similar world views, all day and night for a week lends itself to strong connections. Some of those turn out to be romantic/sexual.

This is not a phenomenon that is restricted to Unitarian Universalist circles (although it is often quite prevalent in those places). Hook-ups happen anywhere adolescents (and sometimes adults) gather for a weekend to a week or more for just about any reason.

I think that hook-ups can be beneficial or harmful, depending on the situation and the teenagers involved. In general, it is important for teenagers to interact sexually/romantically with at least several peers in order to hone their skill at determining the kind of person they like to date – hooking-up can provide some good insights on this. This can include some experimentation with sexual identity. However, hook-ups can also provide for some serious heartaches and heartbreaks. Being able to see and accept the hook-up for what it is (generally a short-term, place-specific encounter) is hard for many young people – but they may not have thought to check-in with the individual of their desire to inquire about their short or long-term intentions.

Have any of you had experiences with hook-ups? How did they turn out? Do you think of your experiences as essentially helpful or essentially hurtful to your romantic and/or sexual development?

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. I look back happily on the hook-up I had with the young man I met in Europe.

  2. I have had many hook-ups. They were almost all wonderful. The key is having no expectations of love and/or a long-term relationship, but simply enjoying the coming-together for what it is: a pleasurable connection with another person. Enjoying sexuality with another person is wonderful! It is clear that our bodies are made for pleasure in this way. If it is respectful and honest, there’s nothing wrong with so-called “one-night-stands” or “hook-ups.” (obviously, pregnancy prevention and STD prevention is paramount, but once you’ve got those bases covered, go for it!)

  3. “Hook-ups” for me, when I was a teenager, were one night stands that left me feeling yucky and stupid. I can see theoretically that it doesn’t have to be that way but I think many teens have sex that do not want to – they feel compelled to in order to obtain secondary gain – popularity, someone to love them (or at least ‘act’ like they love them) for the moment, getting back at parents for painful experiences at home. I don’t know how to help adolescent’s sort that out, make choices based on being comfortable in themselves, rather than making choices based on being uncomfortable in themselves.

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