How To Opt Out Of Hookup Culture In Your Dating Life

Hookup culture has increasingly grown into the new norm and finding someone who wants a serious relationship seems to be harder to come by in today's dating. Although it may not feel like it, there are many people looking to find a long-term partner. The truth is, it's just easier to find a casual relationship because there are little to no expectations, and it allows people to reap all the benefits without commitment. This has made dating difficult to navigate when looking for a serious relationship and has caused many to fall prey to the pressures of hookup culture because of how much normalcy it's gained over the years.

However, if you are looking to avoid hookup culture and want to find a serious partner, it just takes a little inside information. From how a person presents themselves on their dating profile to the kind of date they choose to take you on, figuring out a person's true intentions are easier to read than you might think.

Make sure you're looking in the right places

Although it may feel like it, dating apps actually aren't the only avenue to find a potential partner, and according to experts, you might have a better chance of finding a serious partner offline. Sex and relationship coach Suzannah Weiss tells the List, "In-person settings often don't carry the same expectation for hookups as dating apps." This is because meeting in person allows everyone the opportunity to gradually develop a connection naturally and there isn't an unspoken connotation or expectation.

So, you might ask, "Where am I supposed to meet someone?" According to dating and relationship expert Amber Soletti, "A lot of great relationships are based on common interests." Doing something you enjoy opens you up to meeting people you already have something in common with. Soletti explains to The List, "Rather than hitting the bar scene or dating apps to meet someone, try doing something you actually enjoy doing. I.e. Join a co-ed kickball or volleyball league, sign-up for a screenwriting class, [or] volunteer at your local animal shelter." This is great advice to keep in mind because people who join clubs or groups aren't doing so to find a hookup or relationship, which is great because it provides an effortless opportunity for genuine connections to form.

Screen them before the date

Screening someone before a date is absolutely crucial in today's dating. This allows you the opportunity to get a sense of not only what this person is like but how serious they are about dating.

Take advantage of the many resources the internet gives you to really check out this person, especially if you met them from a dating app. A little social media stalking has become the norm with today's dating, so it's pretty much expected from both parties. "Google them before you even ever meet up with them," dating and relationship expert Amber Soletti tells The List. "Can't tell you how many times I've come to discover the guy is married or in a relationship from a simple Google search."

You also want to pay close attention to their texting and communication habits before agreeing to a date. If someone is taking days to respond, it can be assumed by their low effort that they aren't taking you seriously. However, if they maintain a conversation and make an effort to get to know you by asking questions, this can indicate they are in fact serious. Also, pay attention to how people confirm plans for dates. Those who aren't looking for anything serious start to become flakey or cancel at the last minute to test boundaries. If this is the case, then more likely than not, they aren't looking for anything serious and it's best to cut your losses.

Make your intentions clear

Before approaching the dating scene, try to figure out what you want in a partner and what kind of partner you want to be. Relationship expert Jessica Alderson tells The List, "It's important to be intentional with your dating process. Get clear about the qualities you are looking for in a partner. This will help you to be more discerning about who you spend time with and recognize when someone doesn't meet your standards."

It's important to date with intentions and to be open about your intentions so you are attracting the right people. This is especially important when online dating. According to Jon Dabach, "The biggest way to ward off someone just looking for a hookup is transparency." One way to be absolutely transparent is by directly asking the other person what they're looking for. If their answer is vague or anything other than "a relationship," it's safe to assume they aren't looking for anything serious. If you're on dating apps, don't be afraid to include that you're looking for a relationship. You can even try to phrase it in a fun, flirty way like "looking to go on my last, first date." Some apps even allow you to add a prompt such as "looking for a relationship" to your profile too. Finally, reminding yourself of your intentions is also important to avoid compromising your intentions for somebody else's.

Pay close attention to their dating profile

You can tell how serious someone is about dating just by the amount of effort they put into their profile. A blank bio, one-worded answers to prompts, and suggestive photos are all huge indicators someone is likely looking for a hookup.

Although it can be exciting to match with someone attractive, therapist and dating coach Alyse Freda-Colon LCSW suggests, "Don't just focus on their photos — they can be beautiful and photogenic. That doesn't mean they're a good fit for you!" She continues, "Look for red-flag phrases like 'looking for something casual,' or 'not looking to be serious.'"

A person's dating profile can be very telling about their intentions and who they are as a person. Alyse tells The List, "If he makes little effort putting together his profile, take that as a clue as to his level of seriousness in dating." She continues, "You want someone who's put thought into what he says, how he presents himself, and shows that he's taking this endeavor seriously." A person's dating profile should give you an idea of who they are as a person and what a relationship with them could be like.

Avoid any sexual banter

Sometimes with dating, you will run into people who will take your stance in not wanting a casual relationship as a challenge. Initially, they may seem like they are looking for a serious relationship but quickly reveal an ulterior motive. If someone you're talking to makes the conversation sexual early on, they are not looking for a serious relationship. Therapist and dating coach Alyse Freda-Colon LCSW, suggests, "Do not exchange sexual photos, engage in sexual banter or innuendo via text." She continues, "And if someone tries to take you down that road, there's the sign you needed that this isn't a good fit." The upside to this is that usually people looking for a hookup are going to make it known fast, which can save you from wasting any more time on them.

Some will also initiate subtle sexual banter to test your boundaries and gauge if you would be receptive to it. For example, a guy might send a completely unsolicited NSFW photo without context. This is simply to see your reaction and to make it known he wants you to think about him sexually.

Many have also found if someone chooses to use Snapchat as their primary source of communication, it's a red flag. Snapchat has become synonymous with exchanging nudes and sexting because of its features which allow messages and photos to disappear. 

Make sure you're giving the right impression

One way to attract a potential partner is by giving the right impression. According to matchmaker and relationship expert Sameera Sullivan, "To give the right impression, women should dress appropriately, be punctual, and show genuine interest in the other person." When it comes to online dating, be mindful of the photos you choose to use on your profile. Avoid anything that seems suggestive or shows too much skin. Try to portray the image of what a relationship with you would look like to give your potential matches an idea of what kind of girlfriend you'd be. Show your fun side by adding photos of you doing your hobbies, traveling, out with friends, and being silly. Also, take some time when writing your bio or prompt answers to really give people an idea of your personality.

Finally, don't be afraid to show interest in your dates. To do this, Sullivan suggests focusing "on being present and engaged in the conversation, showing interest in the other person, and sharing positive aspects of your life."

Take it slow

Don't be afraid to take it slow with dating. Many women fall under the pressures of today's hookup culture; however, someone who wants a relationship with you will not mind waiting. Women tend to get attached more easily after sex than men, so if you really want a relationship, it is critical to wait until it feels right. According to relationship expert Laura Doyle, "Altered states of any kind, including sex, impair your judgment and ability to discern your real feelings." She explains, "Sex bonds you, which can prevent you from seeing things clearly."

Many people get intimate on first dates, but holding off from sex also increases the likelihood of a lasting, long-term relationship. Doyle tells The List, "By dating for a while and sharing both conversations and meals, you become much more than just a sex object." She explains, "Your chances of bonding romantically improve dramatically because you gave the nonsexual, but very intimate part of the relationship enough time to develop."

There is really no magic number of dates or a timeframe to indicate the right time to have sex. The best way to know when it's the right time to sleep with someone you want to pursue a relationship with is when you will feel you can trust their intentions. If they have respected your boundaries and have shown a genuine interest in you, they will likely stick around after getting intimate.

Avoid alcohol early on

First dates are nerve-wracking so opting for a drink during one is quite tempting. But it can send the wrong message and can also impair your best judgment. For the very first date, try to avoid alcohol-centered dates in places such as bars, clubs, etc. "I recommend doing non-alcohol, day dates to start. Brunch, a hike, a museum outing," dating and relationship expert Amber Soletti tells the List. "When you meet a guy for drinks at night, it more often than not will end in your bedroom. By doing an activity during the day and avoiding alcohol, you are more in control and it sets the tone for what you are looking for."

Activity dates are amazing first dates to ease those first-date jitters because they allow you to put focus into a certain activity while getting to know your date. Activity dates are also a bonding experience where you have the opportunity to see how a person handles competition, communicates with you, and is able to have fun.

Avoid late dates

It's in your best interest to avoid staying out too late on dates and to avoid accepting late dates because both can create expectations for a hookup. According to couples counselor and relationship coach Jon Dabach, "To signal to potential matches that you're not interested in a hookup, say that you can't stay out too late." He explains, "That insinuates that any kind of fooling around is off the table and it's more about getting to know each other." To avoid staying out too late, give yourself a curfew and stick to it. Mention this early on in the date so that he or she knows there is no chance of your date leading to a hookup. One easy excuse to use is that you have to be up early in the morning for a project, event, or yoga class.

Finally, do not confuse a booty call for a date. Dating and relationship expert Amber Soletti suggests, "Don't agree to last minute or late night dates." She explains, "Serious guys will book you in advance. If a guy texts you at 10 p.m. to meet up, definitely don't take that meeting!"

Ask about their goals

Another way to tell if someone's intentions are serious is by paying close attention to how much they share about themselves with you. According to couples counselor and relationship coach Jon Dabach, "The best way to gauge someone's intentions before getting together is to see how comfortable they are talking about their life goals." He continues, "If you ask them about their job, where they want to live, [and] where they see themselves in five years, and they're willing to get grilled a little, that's a good sign they're not just putting on an act."

A person who is willing to share details about them that are beyond the surface level indicates that they want you to get to know them on a more personal level, so you can understand them better. Getting a glimpse into their goals and future plans can also be a great indicator of whether a relationship is part of their long-term plan. This is also a great opportunity to see how well you and your date align.