Sex and Salt Lake City

The etiquette of hooking up

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Most everyone has heard or used some form of the term “hooking up.”

No Strings Attached. One Night Stand. Messing Around. Bumping Uglies. Hanging Out. Sleeping Together. Tap That. Fraternize. HobNob. Liaison. Knocking Boots. Fuck Buddy. Bump and Grind. Doin’ the Nerdy Dirty. Ms. or Mr. Right Now. Makin’ It. Shag Buddy. Sexquaintances.

Looking up “slang for hook-up” on, you’ll find a total of 1,264 synonyms. That’s a whole lot of words to name something so many struggle with. So why is it we, as a culture, struggle with hooking up? Why is it, if there really are no strings attached, so many people are hurt along the way?

I believe it’s because somewhere along the journey of people being able to shamelessly claim slutiness, and the right to no strings attached sexual interactions, it was forgotten at the other end of sexual pleasure is another real live person — complete with feelings, opinions and desires of what they also would like to walk away from the experience with.

Too often the act of a hook-up is gone into without much thought of consequences. When in fact there are consequences in everything we do and in every interaction we have with another person. Whether we intend to or not, our actions leave an impact, especially when our actions involve a level of intimacy. Too often the terms casual sex and meaningless sex are used interchangeably — when really the two couldn’t be more different. A casual encounter can be very meaningful; and a meaningful encounter can be done quite casually.

So how does one hook-up in an ethical way?

Be honest about your intentions upfront

It’s better to walk away from a potential hook-up wishing you had said yes, than regretting you had said yes. Ask yourself is this something you really want to experience? With this person or people? If it’s a “hell yes” … then go for it! Consider your intentions — such as this is just for tonight (or) I’d really like to see where this would go (or) I’m hoping, desiring, wanting more than just tonight. These are all things wisely shared beforehand and can negate any potential misunderstandings after the bumping and grinding is done.

Communicate like grownups

It can be hard enough to know what a long term partner is thinking, let alone someone we just met and want to get naked with. So, with the assumption that the person before you can’t read your mind, talk about your wants, needs, intentions, likes, dislikes, boundaries, STI status, safer sex preferences, and relationship status upfront. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy conversation or break the sexy mood. But think about this: It would be far less sexy to find out any of your hard limits or boundaries were crossed after the fact.

Be respectful

The person (or people) that you’re looking to play with are just that — actual people. With real feelings, insecurities, fantasies and fears. Most of us are hopeful any potential partner will find us just as sexy when the clothes come off as they do when we’re fully clothed and flirty. The fear of rejection once a person reveals their full physical vulnerability is incredibly strong. If someone trusts you enough to be vulnerable before you, be kind.

Be honest with yourself

The truth is, not everyone is cut out for casual sex. Sometimes social pressure is enough for someone to believe if they’re not casually hooking up with others then maybe they’re not normal. This isn’t the case — ever. Some find great pleasure in hooking up with several different people throughout their lifetimes, and others find great pleasure in being highly selective in only choosing a few, or maybe even just one partner over their lifetime. The only form of hooking up that is wrong (aside from any hook-up that is void of consent by any party) … is the one that doesn’t work for you. You get to decide what feels right for you — not anybody else.

Have Fun

Now that you’ve selected a partner or partners, you’ve set your intentions, and you’re in agreement about the sexy time ahead — have fun! Regardless of the stigmas and social cues that are fed to us at every turn, do not buy into them. You are a grown-up doing consensual grown-up things and the only thing that you, and any partner(s) involved, should take away from this experience is a smile and a “hell yes” that was a good time!

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook is a Clinical Sexologist with a private practice in Salt Lake City. She can be reached at and also found through Sex Positive Utah on

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook is a graduate level Clinical Sexologist, with an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Doctorate Degree in Human Sexuality. As a Clinical Sexologist, she believes a large part of her job is to be a sex enabler. Through counseling, workshops, and hands on exercises, she assists others in achieving the level of sexual function they desire. She enjoys the study and research of not only what people are doing sexually, but how they feel about it. Dr. Laurie divides her time between Los Angeles California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to seeing clients in either of her offices or via skype, she is President for the non-profit, Sex Positive Los Angeles inc. (SPLA) and recently began a chapter in Salt Lake City, (SP-SLC). Her non-profit offers sexual education and support programs throughout Los Angeles and Salt Lake Counties. Rounding off her work, she is an IPSA certified Surrogate Partner Therapist working with clients and therapists in a triadic model to assist in bringing clients comfortable with their sexual selves. Dr. Laurie can be found in various publications; radio, podcast, and television interviews. For individual consultations or appointments please contact her at Welcoming and affirming of all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all sexual and relationship expressions.

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