Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Relationships VI -- High School Hook Ups

In comments below, Jenny points us to two interesting pieces on current trends in "dating" among high school students. Try and read them, I'd like to discuss them in class (probably next week).

As you read them ask yourself a few questions. First, do the authors convince you that things are really different from how they used to be? Why or why not? If you think that there are real trends, what is causing them? That is, why are people engaging relationships differently than they used to? How are the incentives different? Finally (and this gets back to the previous post on hook ups), are you at all concerned by this description? Do you think that these behaviors will have long term consequences for how these people will approach relationships in the future?

I think the real issue to consider is the time commitment involved with being in a relationship. The biggest cost of being in a relationship to many people is the amount of time they will be required to put into it. In a Harvard atmosphere, time is the most valuable commodity that one could give to a significant other. As college becomes more and more busy, the cost of a relationship goes up. Hook ups fill this void by allowing an individual to have a low time commitment fulfillment of ones sexual desires. While the returns to relationships might be higher over time, our inability to realize that the long term sacrifice of time could yield greater benefits than the instant gratification of hook ups. As society continues to get busier, it is likely that the trend towards hooking up will continue. Furthermore, the costs of hooking up have gone down significantly. Socially, hooking up is becoming more and more acceptable. Previously, one who was caught hooking up might have been socially reprimanded. Men in todays culture are lauded for their hookups in a society that is far more sexually open than in the past. As relationsihps become more expensive and hookups relatively cheaper, hookups become a more appealing alternative.
By the way Jenny, I actually cited the article you sent in a paper I wrote on hook ups for my seminar last year. If anyone wants some interesting references to literature on hooking up, just let me know.
Two questions related to the previous comment: first, are we actually busier than people fifty years ago? or do we just choose different leisure (video games, tv)? I wouldn't be surprised if adolescent working-outside-school has actually gone down. Second, I'm not sure that men's hooking up is more acceptable than it was. Probably so with women's hooking up, but that's just anecdotal.
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