Hooking Up

We both know it’s just physical. That’s okay, right? I wanted it to happen and I was really safe, but now I think I want more.

Hooking up describes being sexual with someone you aren’t dating.

It could be with a friend or someone else. It doesn’t necessarily mean having sex—hooking up can also mean kissing or making out. Hook-ups can be a one-time thing, or something that happens more than once with the same person.

Reality check

Hooking up can be confusing. You can never be sure what the other person wants from it, and it can be easy for you to feel upset or hurt afterward. More often than not, hook ups happen when you don’t have much time to think—at a party, after school, or some other place that catches you off guard. Here are some things to think about when it comes to hook ups:

  • What are your expectations?
    Pay attention to what you are hoping might happen as a result of the hook up. If you are looking for a relationship or something more serious with the other person, think realistically about how you’ll feel if the other person is only interested in hooking up.
  • What do you need?
    Think about any needs you have in your life that you believe hooking up will help you fill. If you are looking for fun, attention, or love, think seriously about whether this is the only way to get those needs met, and how you might feel if the hook up doesn’t make you feel the way you thought it would.
  • What pressures are you under?
    Some people choose to hook up because it seems like everyone else is doing it. If you feel pressure to hook up, make sure to give yourself some time to think about what it is that you want and need. Maybe hooking up is exactly what you want right now, but if it isn’t, remember that it is your right to say no.
  • What are the consequences?
    Hooking up can sometimes change the dynamics between you and the person you hooked up with, or between you and your friends. Consider the types of changes that might occur in your relationships, and how those changes might make you feel.

Physical safety

You’ve weighed the emotional risks and you want to hook up anyway.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Know what you are and aren’t willing to do with your body. Remember that it’s always okay to say no or change your mind at any point.
  • Avoid hooking up in secluded spaces, especially if it’s someone you don’t know very well.
  • Remember to tell a close friend where you’ll be and who you’ll be with. If anything happens to put your safety at risk, you can call your friend for backup—no questions asked. You could also ask a close friend to give you a call at a certain time just to make sure you’re okay.
  • Beware of drugs and alcohol. These substances can affect the way you think and make you less alert and vulnerable. Teens who hook up while drunk or high are more likely to engage in unsafe sexual activity, and to feel regret afterwards.
  • If your hook-up includes sex, make sure you protect yourself.

We’re just having fun. What’s the big deal?

Hooking up can make it difficult to communicate. People tend to talk more about their feelings when they’re in a relationship. With hooking up, you may have less time to get to know each other and discuss how you feel about what happens between you. If you are hooking up with someone, avoid making assumptions about how they feel. Here are some more tips on being respectful when hooking up:

  • Be honest with the other person and yourself. Don’t lead them on and say that it’s the start of a relationship if it isn’t.
  • Never take advantage of someone when their guard is down. Don’t make a move if the other person is drunk, high, or going through an emotionally rough time.
  • Don’t try to convince the other person that they should hook up with you if they’ve already said that it’s not right for them.
  • ALWAYS comply if the other person says ‘no’ or ‘stop.’ It’s a person’s right to say no to sexual activity at any point, and it’s the law that you listen. There is no grey area here. No means no.

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Last reviewed September 2013 by the Kids Help Phone Counselling Team

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