How to safely hook up in college

Valentine’s Day just passed but the air is still filled with love. There’s also quite a bit of talk about sex. Many students aren’t in committed relationships, so college campuses have become breeding grounds for hookup culture.

While this phenomenon can be scary and intimidating, it also offers countless opportunities for new and exciting experiences. Depending on who you ask, hooking up can mean anything. Most people don’t consider interactions “hooks up” unless sex is involved, but really the term is all inclusive. It can be anything from kissing to intercourse.

Regardless of how you define hooking up, it should always be a fun and safe experience for all parties involved.

The keys to college hookups include being open about your expectations and always putting safety first. Whether you’re looking for a casual fling or hoping to find something more serious, communication and safe sex practices are essential to navigating hookup culture.

The first step in ensuring a good hookup experience is communication. Being honest with yourself about what you want and communicating that to your partner is essential to having a positive sexual experience. Whether you just met someone at a party or have been hooking up for months, it is always important to make sure you’re comfortable enough to enjoy the experience. Talking about hooking up can sometimes be uncomfortable, but communicating and understanding your own personal desires can help you better navigate the ups and downs of hooking up.

But communicating while hooking up is not always as easy as people make it seem. It’s sometimes hard to communicate exactly what you want, especially when the person you’re hooking up with may not be on the same page. But it’s essential that you continue to evaluate and reflect on what you want so that you can avoid any misunderstandings between you and your partner.

If you chose to actively participate in college hookup culture, it’s important to be aware of good sexual health routines and all the resources you have on campus.

There are multiple forms of contraceptives that are affordable and accessible both on campus and from your healthcare providers. Condoms can be found in every residential college, the Shalala Center, the University Center and of course, the Student Health Center. They are readily available to students and are constantly being restocked. The health center also offers free STD testing every day. It is easy to either make an appointment or just walk right in. And the bonus is, it’s free.

Outside of condoms, there are a numerous other birth control options that you and your partner can explore. There are tons of choices, including the pill, an IUD and a hormone shot.

Whether you’re new to hooking up or you’ve had plenty of past experiences, nothing is ever perfect. But remembering to communicate and practice good sexual health can help to ease the rollercoaster of crazy emotions and experiences that comes with hooking up in college.

But perhaps the most important thing about having good sexual health is consent. Nothing can happen without clear and enthusiastic consent from both parties.

Karina Sloan is a junior majoring in communication studies.