What do I need to know about hooking up?

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The definition of hooking up may vary from person to person. No matter how you define it, it’s good to think about your expectations, safety and having fun.

In general, hooking up means being intimate/sexual with someone without being in a committed relationship with them. It may also be called “a one-night stand” or “casual sex.” Hookups may be a one-time thing or something that happens more than once with the same person/people. The choice to hook up is completely up to you.

Why do people hook up?

People may hook up for different reasons. Some people may choose to hook up because:

  • they want to have new/different sexual experiences
  • they want to explore their sexuality
  • they want to see if they have sexual chemistry with someone
  • they want to start a relationship with someone
  • they want to feel close/connected to someone
  • they just want to have sex!

What do I need to know about hooking up?

Hooking up can be a positive experience, but it can also come with some challenges. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Expectations: what are you hoping may happen as a result of a hookup? Are you looking for something short or long term? For example, if you want a relationship with a person you’re hooking up with, how will you feel if they’re only interested in something more casual? Or what if a person you’re hooking up with wants something more serious than you do? It’s a good idea to talk about what each person wants before engaging in a hookup. This way, you’ll be on the same page and ready to have fun together.
  • Pressure: some people hook up because it seems like everyone else is doing it. If you feel pressured (e.g. by friends, your partner(s), etc.), you can take some time to think about what you want. Talking it out with someone you trust can also help you make the best decision for yourself.
  • Your limits: share what you are/aren’t comfortable doing with your partner(s). It’s always OK for someone involved in a hookup to say “no” or to change their mind at any point.
  • Your preferences: hooking up is supposed to feel good and be enjoyable for everyone who participates. You can talk with your partner about your likes/dislikes when it comes to being intimate.
  • A backup: tell someone you trust about where you’ll be and who you’ll be with. If you feel uncomfortable, call them for backup. You could also ask them to contact you at a certain time to make sure you’re OK. If you feel unsafe and need immediate help, you can call 911 or the emergency services in your area.
  • Protection: consider how you’ll practise safer sex and protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy (if applicable). You can talk to your partner(s) to learn more about your sexual health/histories. This can help you make an informed decision about how to proceed.
  • Consent: when engaging in any type of sexual activity, it’s important to get enthusiastic consent from everyone involved throughout the activity. Consent needs to be given through words and actions (e.g. a verbal “yes” and an eager nod). Remember, if someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, it’s OK to take some time to consider if this is a person you want to hook up with.

Hooking up can be fun and exciting, and it’s important to put your safety first. If you have questions about hooking up and protecting yourself, you can reach out to a safe adult or a sexual health clinic.