Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 25, 2024

Rescuing Romance on College Campuses

By ANDREW GUERNSEY | October 28, 2013

Reading last week’s editorial, “Nothing wrong with Hopkins’ hook-up culture,” I found it curious that, while the author would surely denounce the culture of rape and sexual violence, she praises a view of casual sex, which can foster that very mindset. The fact is that the culture of use endemic in the hookup culture underlies the culture of abuse. If sex becomes all about “getting some” it is not difficult to see how this mindset could be exploited for abusive ends. Going back to my own freshman year, I’ve seen too many tears shed and too many hearts torn apart by the so-called “hookup” culture. Hopkins students must recover the joy of true romance and reject its cheap mockeries. The fact is that sex does have powerful consequences, and, like fire, has the power to either warm and to illuminate our lives or to burn them to the ground.

Everyone desires to love and be loved. Humans are wired for mutual commitment, self-giving and life-giving love. As the eminent philosopher of love, Karol Wojtyla once said, “Man cannot fully find himself, except through a sincere gift of himself.” To love another, moreover, makes one vulnerable to the other: able to be accepted or rejected. Submitting to this vulnerability through romance takes courage, but in drawing us out of our comfort zones, it opens up new channels of freedom where only love can bring us.

Far from being an amoral act, sex involves the full mystery and depth of the human person, body and soul. Our bodies themselves speak a language of meaning and love and openness to life. Sex is a visible sign through the body of a union that has already occurred in the hearts and minds of the beloved; because sex, by its nature, makes us totally vulnerable to each other, it presupposes trust and a mutual love and commitment from the participants.

It goes without saying that the casual hook-up culture cannot and will not deliver on its promises of satisfaction, comfort and love. The effects can be devastating for those involved: studies have shown an increase in anxiety and depression for casual hookup participants. According to a study by evolutionary biologist Justin Garcia, as many as 77 percent of students regret their hook-ups after the fact.

Each one of us has a value, a complexity and a dignity of which the casual hookup makes a parody. If a guy or a girl will only hang out with you if you have sex with him or her, then he or she is simply not worthy of you. We ought to guard our hearts, not out of prudery or anxiety, but out of the recognition that each one of us is worth more than a cheap fling.

Someone who goes looking for a casual hookup is looking for love but in the wrong places. So don’t settle for less; find someone who respects you for all of who you are. I promise they are out there. Ask someone out on a date. Make time to develop and grow your relationships. It could change your life forever — and both our campus and our world will be better for it.

Andrew Guernsey is a sophomore majoring in political science.

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