Minus the City: Post-Hookup Etiquette

Middle-aged adults love to reminisce about college as the time of their lives, one big party, four years of unhindered self-discovery. They often spout cheesy lines about how “it’s a journey” that triggers your gag reflex, but you suppress your disgust to be polite. As much as we should remain committed to rolling our eyes at people who still talk about their “glory days,” I find that their clichéd comments aptly describe Colgate’s hookup culture. 

As a first-year getting my bearings on the social scene, I cannot help but feel like I am setting out on some kind of grand expedition. The high school hookup scene was safe and familiar, you knew most people and the obstacles were predictable, rather like an episode of “Dora the Explorer.” College is an entirely new beast; you are no longer a surprisingly independent ten year old with a talking map, you are now Frodo Baggins in “Lord of the Rings” and you have to get through Mordor. Ahead of you lies a treacherous landscape of jug nights, frat parties, pubs and kickbacks, which each offer their own opportunities for casual sex. Although I may sound apprehensive, I, along with most Colgate students it would seem, love this aspect of our party culture. Spontaneous hookups are exhilarating; they are a perfect mix of feeling desired by a total stranger and acting on your own attractions to that person without all the pressure of building a relationship with them. But what happens afterwards?

The post-hookup interaction is awkward by nature. Whether you spent the night together or you made out in the middle of the dance floor, you have gotten to know each other, but you do not really know each other. Sometimes you do not even know the other person’s name, yet you have shared a vulnerable and deeply personal experience. Maybe you never want to see the person again, maybe you do, or maybe you have to see them every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:20 a.m. until the end of the semester. Whatever the scenario, the question remains: what is the post-hookup etiquette?

Handling social interactions with anyone you have been even minimally sexual with is a delicate dance between showing lack of attachment and a basic level of common courtesy to prove you are not a jerk. Although every situation is unique, generally, the best way to show some decency and respect is a simple “hello” when you see the person. It seems like an impossible task, but as the writer Carl W. Buechner famously said, “They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.” 

It is easy to forget that our peers at Colgate are equally as human, confused and clueless as ourselves. We are all Frodo Baggins just setting out from the Shire, but to each other we can choose to be a Samwise or a Gollum. I have made my choice, so, hello there.