Sage & Blunt Advice: Hesitant to Hookup

Sage & Blunt, Contributing Writer

Dear Sage & Blunt, 

How do I participate in hookup culture without being held back by the potential that [it’s] not reciprocated? I feel like it’s more embarrassing in a small school and town setting, which I’m not used to at all. 


Hesitant to Hook Up 


Dear Hesitant to Hook Up, 

I think the problem here might be with hookup culture and not with you. A relationship model that involves low-stakes sex with partners who are ideally as anonymous as possible doesn’t easily map onto a small college in a small town. In the case of unreciprocated affection, it’s much harder to avoid someone on campus who rejected your advances. At the risk of sounding extremely frigid, I’m going to suggest that maybe this relationship model needs work. (Not at all) hot take: hookup culture is kind of dehumanizing! 

What if we all got a little more imaginative with our encounters? It is absolutely possible to have frivolous hookups and survive unrequited interest without ignoring people or pretending not to know them. In fact, I think “participating in hookup culture” would be so much more fun if everyone extended a warm hello to all their overnight lovers whenever they ran into each other, maybe even get coffee with some of them every once in a while. Consider this my proposition to Grinnellians at large: stop being boring! This is a world we can create together! 

I could recite some cuddly idealistic manifesto for you, but for now we still live in the real world, where sexual congress is messy and terrifying. The thing to remember is that everyone wants a kiss on the lips, and those who are willing to go out and hunt for one are opening themselves up to the possibility of being turned down just as much as you are. And even if they’re not into it, most people are flattered by the idea that there are real people around them who are interested in kissing them! You might just have to accept the inherent risk, and hopefully you’ll take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone. Lean into the awkwardness. Have fun with it. 

Besides, all of life is rejection. You risk rejection when you apply for a job, when you raise your hand in class, when you ask a friend for a favor — there’s no way to avoid it, and there’s no reason this particular kind of rejection needs to be taken any more seriously. Practice challenging whatever it is you tell yourself when your interest isn’t reciprocated. I promise, you are very hot and funny. You deserve whatever kind of arrangement that makes you and all relevant parties happy. Embarrassment is the price of admission; it’s up to you whether you want to get on the ride. 

Best of luck, 

Sage & Blunt