On the Millennial dating scene, the basic principle is "naai and vaai", "smash and grab" or hit and miss – just don't "catch feelings" for the person you're sleeping with. But what do you do if you're tired of hookups and are looking for a meaningful relationship? To quote Facebook, "It's complicated."
Amy Hutchinson*, 26, thinks people are turning to hook-ups, the growing trend towards no-strings-attached casual sex, because they've become emotionally disconnected. "You don't want to feel your headaches or your heartaches. It's easier to just mess around" she says.
"Having been in two relationships, the thought of dealing with the admin of building a new relationship after completing the admin of coming out of one is just too much ... I'm in this weird numb space where I'm scared of feelings so I just switch off completely".
Deshanta Govender*, 25, agrees. She says she's just not in a place in her life where she can handle a relationship and all the upkeep it requires.
"I've got a new job and I'm trying to make serious inroads in my career, but also, I'm a human being that looks for human connection. Sex is great and hooking up is the easiest way to get that without being emotionally invested in someone," she says.
But this setup doesn't work for everyone and can be frustrating for those looking for a more traditional relationship.
"You meet these guys you think you might like and then they send you late night booty call messages like 'Are you up?' with sexually implicit emojis, and you just ignore them", says 19-year-old university student Zandile Zondo.
Thando Ndlovu*, 26, wants a relationship but hasn't had much luck on the dating scene of late. "We don't date with purpose anymore. It's largely recreational", he says.
In previous generations, dating was a means to an end – the aim was to get married and have kids. "Sure, it didn't always work out and you didn't necessarily marry the first and only person you dated, but the intention or at the very least the hope that it would end up that way was the premise from the get go", he says.
Today, it's a totally different ball game - and the rules are unclear.
Jessica Davidson*, 24, found that out the hard way. "I was dating this guy in every single sense of the word - dating. He'd met my family, he'd met my friends, I'd made it clear that I was in a relationship with him, that I was invested in him and committed to the relationship for the long haul," she says.
But then he ended it.
What gutted her was that her friends hadn't even considered them to have been in a relationship. "I suppose because it wasn't on Facebook," she says.
"I was in every way going through the motions of a breakup and healing, but everyone else was like 'So? You were together for a couple of months, it's not a big deal. Move on.'"
Davidson feels hookup culture is damaging our sense of intimacy. "Basically, I think hooking up is practicing for divorce".
But Shirin Dasu*, 29, holds a different view. Dasu is currently in a serious relationship with someone she'd initially been hooking up with. She says moving from hookup to relationship is difficult, but not impossible; the key is a combination of communication and patience.
It's not just speaking to each other every day, but understanding where the other person's insecurities and doubts about your commitment are coming from, she says.
"Because we had initially been hooking up non-exclusively, it was hard for both of us to believe in each other's sincerity of the pursuit of a serious relationship," she says. "We had lots of trust issues that took us a long time to work through."
A hookup may be a fuss-free alternative to a traditional relationship but if it's to evolve into something more meaningful, there's a mountain of work involved.
February is the month of love. At the Huffington Post South Africa, we take a look at how South Africans are finding and holding on to love. Author Shubnum Khan tells us about how cross-border romances are made or broken, tech journalist Nafisa Akabor looks at how social media replaced your meet-cute and lifestyle editor Sarah Koopman has some advice on how to get away from that tired old dinner-and-a-movie setup. Find them all and more here, or try these:
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- Watch: From DMs to Old School Courting: 11 Unexpected Ways To Find Love