Love & Dating | February 12th, 2022

The Culture of Sneaky Links

By: Amiya Abner
The Culture of Sneaky Links

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and the holiday that is traditionally centered around love and affection has become the exact opposite with the newfound culture of “sneaky links.” Having sexual relations in secrecy started off as a taboo. However, it is now refashioned into a generational obsession with pursuing intimacy in ultra-privacy.

This emerging sneaky link trend appears as an escape for Black sexual liberation, all while encouraging contradictory ideas that simulate modern-day polygamy. The power struggles between self-identity and sexual identity have intertwined with the inner struggles we all experience as college students. It has become customary for college students to give into the temptations of sneaky links, despite the risks. 

Christian Blue, who is currently attending college and in a relationship with his high school sweetheart, understands from a male perspective why sneaky link culture has continued to gain popularity. 

“Men at this age are in college, young, and surrounded by a lot of options. It’s hard to get someone to want to settle down with just one girl because men are afraid of commitment, and relationships are now being looked at like it’s a marriage,” he says.

“Truthfully there is no set-in-stone way to change or end sneaky link culture”

Blue despises how the mindset damages the perception of love and intimacy. “I think playing the sneaky link game is dangerous, more so for women because I’ve personally seen that it results in them wanting a boyfriend anyway,” he continues. “Truthfully there is no set-in-stone way to change or end sneaky link culture because social media isn’t going anywhere. People have to start making those decisions for themselves.”

As content on social media continues to normalize the engagement of having private partners with memes and songs, sneaky links remain a superior alternative within the Black community.

Shania Washington, 20, found that sneaky links unconventionally segued into an ongoing two-year relationship. “I’m someone that can have sex with no emotions attached, however, because we started off as friends and he would come over to chill a lot more I started feeling myself getting attached in a way,” Washington says. 

However, having intimate relations with her counterparts without any emotional connections, she sometimes finds herself struggling with identifying and acknowledging her emotions. Washington also realized that she and her peers could recognize the infatuation with sneaking around because a lot of college students desire the power dynamics of managing their pursuits in secrecy.

“I’m not the type to go around telling people I have a boyfriend because I don’t like people in my business and I’m just not that girl,” she says. “However, I do not keep it a secret because I let people know I have a boyfriend just not who.”

“I don’t have a problem with having sneaky links because I didn’t see healthy relationships growing up.

Imani Anderson says growing up with a single mother and seeing infidelity in other familial relationships disrupted the romanticized idea of Black love for her. “I don’t have a problem with having sneaky links because I didn’t see healthy relationships growing up. When my grandfather cheated on my grandmother, I was really hurt,” Anderson says. 

Naturally, her perception of love manifested in her yearn to excessively nurture as a partner. “I used to find comfort in mothering this one boy I used to talk to because it was like ‘Yea I raised you.’ But at the same time, I don’t put stuff past any man now so when I do have sneaky links it usually just becomes a friendship,” the 19-year-old says.

Past relationships also leave a stain on future encounters. For most people, it is an extremely difficult process to move past the stages of harboring old relationship trauma. 

“When I first got to college it honestly was a culture shock to me because we all have been through a lot of stuff and mentally, we are not all on the same page,” says Anderson. “So, when it comes to sneaky links, what doesn’t sit right with me is the fact that because we are not in a relationship but doing relationship things. It gives a male or female the right to have sex with multiple people at the same time because we’re scared of attachment.”

The most challenging part of living in an era that is heavily driven by societal norms and social media influences is figuring out how we can disrupt this narrative.