When someone says, “Yeah, we’re hooking up,” I don’t have a reaction one might classify as normal. The phrases “oh, nice” or “good for you” don’t cross my lips. Instead, I’m left befuddled, bewildered, and bemused. All of the “B”s. Basically, I’m not sure what to say.
This got me wondering whether this is a me problem or if others are also split on its meaning. Was there a meeting I wasn’t invited to where people discussed the different interpretations and uses of the phrase “hooking up?” Was that also when they created ghosting, orbiting, zombie-ing, and every other nonsense word that defines our generation’s dating habits? Regardless of whether this secret society actually exists or not, I put on some sweatpants and got to doing my research. And by research, I mean texting people I know to tell me WTF this perplexing term means to them in 2019.
1. “That is a loaded question. But when I say we ‘hooked up,’ I mean it very generally — anything from making out to having sex.” —Alex, 26, casually dating
2. “If you’re in your 20s or older and you’re hooking up, you’re having sex. No one in their 20s is solely just making out with people on a consistent basis.” —David, 24, in a relationship
3. “Well, I think it’s two people who meet to have sex and maybe a one-night stand.” —My mom, married to my stepdad
4. “Frequently engaging in sexual relations with an individual.” —Tomer, 23, single
5. “Making out.” —Jesse, 25, permanently single
6. “Sleeping with someone without going on dates or without the intention of a more serious relationship. Otherwise, I’d call it ‘dating.’” —Hannah, 27, in a relationship
7. “In my day, it meant schtupping. Orgasms exchanged at the very least. Today I think it could be just kissing.” —My stepdad, married to my mom
8. “Anything past making out. If I just make out with someone, I’d say ‘we made out,’ but if we end up removing any clothing, I’d categorize that as hooking up, with (if needed) an asterisk of *but we didnt have sex.” —Evan, 24, single
9. “That you’ve done stuff in private with them — more than make out on the street — at least twice.” —Jessica, 28, living with her partner
10. “I define it as people who are not in a relationship consenting to any kind of sexual activity. Making out could be hooking up if you wanted.” —Sophie, 27, single
Alas, I’m back at square one. But maybe there doesn’t need to be an exact label for your sexual encounters. It’s none of anyone’s business, anyway.