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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student


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Pillowtalk – Where to find casual sex without Tinder


Hi Pillowtalk,

How do I find people to hook up with without a Tinder? 🙁

It’s as weird to think about college hookups without Tinder as it is college essays without computers. The art of casual sex without the help of technology is nearly lost. Since COVID began, most people have been finding their sexual connections online.

So what happens when Tinder bans you? (This is more common than you think, and even if it wasn’t, I do give pretty niche advice sometimes.) If you’re just looking for another app, I’d try downloading a few and seeing how the area vibes are. Hinge, Bumble, and OKCupid all have a decent presence on campus, but they have different user populations, so there’s no definitive “better” option. 

There are of course more specific apps like Taimi, Grindr, and Her for queer folks that might get you the results you’re looking for, as long as you’re specifying what you’re looking for. Make your location wider than just campus – sometimes you find someone willing to travel for you, especially if you’re just looking for an every-once-in-a-while thing (disclaimer: guests are currently not allowed on campus).

If you have a finsta or whatever, you can do the ridiculous (but absolutely effective) poll-post on your story that reads, “Would you hook up w me????” and wait for results. Or post a thirst trap with something like, “swipe up if you’d hit this.” You know the type. Lean into the cringe. Make it ironic if you really need to feel better about yourself. Importantly, you need to follow through on the results you receive! Text people back, get off the app and into their contacts. 

Now, if your question is how to find people to hook up with without the use of technology at all, I have a much different approach for you. The grapevine approach is a fun one – it’s the college-aged equivalent of your grandma carrying around pictures of you trying to solicit every cute potential partner your age. Tell your friends what you’re looking for! Chances are someone knows someone else looking to hook up, or knows someone who had a crush on you for a while; you might get lucky that way.

If the grapevine fails you, it’s time to get out in the field. Go to events. Talk to people! (Easier said than done, I know. It can help to have a line to strike up a conversation: “I’m polling my friends: would you classify peanut butter as sweet or savory?” or just “Hey, how’s it going? Have I seen you around?”) Hell, use the DM feature in Zoom to get someone’s number (but be careful how you go about it; hosts of zoom meetings can see them). 

Once you’ve got contact info, test the waters with some flirting, respond to their story, ask to hang out. Don’t be too vague about what you want – it’s easier to just vet someone early than try to make a friend you’re not really looking to keep. Be respectful.

Public spaces help, too. Bars, coffee shops, even the Gizmo are good places to slip someone your number, in the event that someone catches your eye. It’s impolite to trap someone in a conversation or to ask for an acceptance/rejection immediately, especially if it’s an employee, but pen and paper tend to be fairly unobtrusive and give the person a chance to never text you in the first place.

It’s a good idea to wear something that’s easy to use as a conversation starter when you’re looking to make connections in public spaces: a pin, a statement necklace, a pair of particularly interesting pants. When you compliment someone in public, it’s a good idea to pick one of those things (something they chose to put on their body) instead of something they grew (their eyes, their hair, their legs).

Putting yourself out there in real life does bear the weight of embarrassment in a way that technology does not, but that’s something you’re going to have to accept if you go the route of a traditional hook-up strategy. It’s a risk/reward question, and sometimes the reward is kind of a shitty one (you never know with a fling), but rest assured—you’re in a situation shared with thousands of 20-somethings throughout the history of college campuses who didn’t have Tinder. If they can do it, so can you!

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