It's strange to me that so many people see the adolescent culture of "hooking up" as an advanced or liberated approach to relationships. I went to the zoo last weekend and saw the chimps behaving identically.

Young people during one of the most sexually active periods of their lives aren't necessarily looking for a mate. What used to be a mate-seeking ritual has shifted to hookups: sexual encounters with no strings attached.

"The idea used to be you are going to date someone that is going to lead to something sexual happening," Bogle says. "In the hookup era, something sexual happens, even though it may be less than sexual intercourse, that may or may not ever lead to dating."

Young people from high school on are so preoccupied with friends, getting an education and establishing themselves, they don't make time for relationships.

Marriage and family are the cornerstones of civilization, and destroying them is a luxury that consumes our cultural capital and will eventually leave us bankrupt. Our civilization is so rich and powerful that it appears to us that nothing can destroy it, but we can waste away our cultural wealth in just a few generations if we aren't careful.

At 25, May Wilkerson would like a relationship, but not a family — not quite yet. She's lived a lot of places: Argentina, Canada and Paris. Wilkerson says she hasn't found much intimacy with the men she's encountered.

In New York City, where she moved two years ago, people seem even more emotionally detached, and she thinks it is because so many of the people who come to the big city are focused on success.

"For many of us, the requisite vulnerability and exposure that comes from being really intimate with someone in a committed sense is kind of threatening."

And the thought of being in love with someone, Wilkerson says, "is the most terrifying thing."

What??? Relationships are hard? No wonder divorce is so common when young people (good grief, I'm not one anymore?) are so used to commitment-free hookups. They've never committed to anything and are totally unprepared for marriage.

"[S]o many of the people who come to the big city are focused on success." It used to be that finding a good spouse and starting a family together was a type of success, but not anymore. Now "success" is a degree, a career, plenty of money, and an endless series of meaningless relationships.

Education, work, and prosperity are all great things, but they're great because they enable what's really important: the relationships in your life. They're tools. They're means to an end, not an end unto themselves.

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