This is a question more pertinent now than ever, as so many of us would rather burn than last. We have replaced, or perhaps come to define love by fleeting moments of closeness, often even when it doesn't equate intimacy.
Our love in Tinderised. We like quick fixes, and don't mind the wham-bam-thank-you-mams. In fact, we sometimes prefer if sex is not preceded or followed by clichéd footsies and suggestive cuddles.
Fairytale romance seems to be a thing of the past.
We don't believe that a knight in shining armour will come galloping on a white horse, or that a damsel in distress will leave her shoe behind as she runs to her carrier, trying to get home before midnight. We don't believe in happily-ever-afters.
Some of us lost the belief as a result of heartbreak, while some took cynicism to be the lesson of other people's mistakes. We have learnt that relationships require hard work, and don't come without the risk of turning our lives completely upside down.
And maybe we are terrified of being vulnerable and putting our fragile hearts in someone else's hands, there for them to squeeze, to throw, to strangle, to forget.
Or maybe, we have learnt that our hearts are precious, and save them for the special ones. We don't fall in love that easily anymore, and certainly don't want to settle. We want more than just company. We want someone who can make us laugh, make us think, and satisfy our bodies as much as they satisfy our souls. We want someone we can count on, but we have learnt that this kind of a thing doesn't come easily.
Heartbreak may have taught us to be picky, but life has taught us that in pursuit of perfection, we should not miss the good enough.
Whereas till a few years ago, heartbreak gave birth to poetry and art, the advent of dating apps has given us the option of still feeling a modicum of connection and closeness with another human being. Not only can we now find company when we want to, we can also feel the joy of getting to know a new person, of hearing their stories and sharing our own, of exploring their hearts and bodies.
Company is now just a right swipe away; gratification, something to be had now.
And that's what a hook up provides. It gratifies in the now. We don't have to woo or wait. In the rush of physical intimacy, we feel emotionally connected to the person next to us.
In that moment, our heartbreak, our loneliness, our pain, our fears vanish.
But we are more than just our broken hearts, and picky minds.
We are also a generation who is not inhibited or shy about our sexuality. We embrace our desires and don't stop ourselves from having them fulfilled. We do not deny our need for physical stimulation. We no longer pretend that we stave off premarital sex, or look down upon it. Virginity is no more a quality we associate with good character.
We are well-versed with the pleasures of sex, and demand it in our lives.
We know what we want, sexually, emotionally and intellectually. We no longer have to follow the trajectory of graduating, getting a job, getting married and bearing and rearing children. We have the freedom to explore, to walk away from what doesn't satisfy us, and to relentlessly find what would.
Finding love is no longer the sole aim of our lives. It is somewhere on the list of things we want to do, and must find a place amidst our ambitions, our curiosity and our passions. Sure, we would like to have someone to cuddle on cold winter mornings, but we are okay being on our own. We have other loves, and frankly, sometimes, they don't leave room for another human being.
Hook up culture is not just about casual sex, or running away from intimacy and commitment.
It's different things for different people.
For the heartbroken, it is a safe ground to play in, while their hearts slowly heal.
By being physically close to someone, we keep the windows to our hearts ajar, there for someone to push open completely, should they have the strength and patience.
For the picky, it is a step closer to finding the right one.
We don't just want someone who's "not bad." We want someone who can give us orgasms with their sense of humour and intellect, while looking super hot. Maybe that's too much to ask for (we're willing to give up the super hot bit), but we won't stop looking till we find someone who makes our heart go 'whoop!'
If there is a common thread that connects the lot of us for whom a fairytale romance is not the sole meaning of life, it is the pursuit of pleasure.
We may not have everything sorted out. We might be licking our wounds, busying ourselves with other quests, or just waiting for our Mr. / Ms. Right. We may not know if our hearts will ever really heal, or if we will ever be satisfied enough to let love in, but what we do know is that we will not shy away from experiences along the way.
We will not stop trying. We will not stop searching. We will not stop hoping.
In all honesty, we don't really know if this is going to get us anywhere. This... easy, lustful loving. Maybe it will be our most grand saviour, or maybe it will be our greatest downfall. We can't say.
But, the thing is... we won't know where it will take us until we let it take us there. And that's just what we are doing.
Living our lives one day at a time... One fuck at a time.