Commentary  Love and hook-up culture

Reflections on romance at McGil

I scoff at the concept of romantic love. Traditional love, the idea that we are meant to find one soulmate to spend the rest of our lives with, is laughably naive. From my parents’ loveless marriage to my experience with heartbreak, I’ve long lost all reasons to believe that relationships are worth the emotional investment. But of course, my pessimism is not just because of personal experience. The internet is riddled with memes and text posts about how we should fall asleep instead of falling in love. We sarcastically quip about choosing cats, ice cream, and Nutella over romance. On TV, we worship the heartless protagonist who only has time for casual sex, too damaged by a past relationship to occupy themselves with petty things such as emotions. We have romanticized cynicism and apathy to the point where many of us tell ourselves that the pleasure we get from love is not worth the risk of heartbreak.

So what do we do? We treat love like it’s a disease. Having proclaimed ourselves soulless beings, we look for the best way to get laid without getting into a committed relationship. At McGill, it is undeniable that this sort of attitude is shared by a large chunk of its population. In a competitive academic environment where many of us put school first, we tell ourselves that we don’t have the time for anything else except work and sex. Apps like Tinder only fuel this hook-up culture, and I have come across many a McGill student on Tinder in search of ‘fun’ or ‘a good time.’

Although I revel in my ability to live off of casual sex, I have begun to question the way I look at love. Personal experience has shown me that even if you regularly see someone in a sense that is void of commitment or romance, you can still get hurt. Sex is a type of intimacy, and with intimacy can come an emotional connection. But because we meet on the premise that we will keep emotions out of the picture, sometimes we forget that we are dealing with humans, and thus forget to treat them as such. Lacking the desire to involve ourselves with romance for whatever reason is no excuse to treat anyone we hook up with like shit.

It may seem that hook-up culture holds a much stronger presence over romantic love, but this doesn’t mean that romance is dead. I have a friend who is in a committed long-distance relationship, and although I always make sure to mock him for being a romantic, I know that he is happier being in love than I am living my supposedly feelings-free life. For me, his ability to accept the possibility of one day suffering at the cost of love makes him one of the strongest men I have had the privilege to meet.

Not everyone who prefers casual sex to romance is necessarily doing it because they’re too afraid to get in touch with their emotions, but I’m tired of hearing people, including myself, trying to pretend that their feelings do not exist. I used to regularly see someone who was like this, but little does he know that I have seen flashes of his vulnerability, and I know that underneath his front is someone who is too cowardly to admit that he is human. To choose love and devotion at the risk of heartbreak is far braver than hiding the fear of heartbreak behind a preference for casual sex. People like me can only hope to one day be so fearless.

Jasmine Lee is a Political Science student. To contact her, please email