You’ll find your true love in college, they say. You’ll know when you’ve found The One, they said. I’ve heard these exact phrases from all the couples in my family and have learned about “romance” from the plots of all the love stories that I unabashedly watch on girly nights in with a family sized bag of chips, a glass of wine, (or six) and my two favorite studs, Ben & Jerry. As I watch over and over again, Mandy Moore fall in love with Matthew Goode in Chasing Liberty, Ryan Gosling sweep Rachel McAdams off her feet in The Notebook, and the blossoming love story of Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in One Day, all I can think is… this is all a huge pile of bullshit.
Yes, these movies are great films that provide entertainment on a cozy night in with your girls when you want to give your liver a break and have a chill weekend instead. But honestly, since we first watched Cinderella as kids, or when your mom dropped you off at Pitt on your first day and said “make sure you find your husband here!” like mine did to me, we’ve been holding onto the expectation that in the near future, we’ll find our Prince Charming. But how are we to find “Prince Charming” in today’s college scene of hook-ups, make-outs, and everything in between? Finding this so-called “One” is hard enough, but when dating is added to mix, that’s an entirely different feat in itself!
The rules of dating have completely changed from when our grandparents and parents hit the dating scene. While there once were candlelit dinners and thoughtfully planned evenings out with one special guy or girl, they have now been replaced with texts, informal hang outs, adult sleepovers, and “hooking up”. But just what is this “hooking up”? There seems to be a huge variation between males, females, and different age groups on defining just what it is. Junior, Gabe Appel-Kraut says, “freshman year it was just to make out with someone. Now it’s actually going home with someone and actually having contact with the vagina but penetration is not necessary.” But, junior Jaclyn James simply said, “it’s anything past making out.” Contrastingly to Gabe, junior Kevin Kerr said, “hooking up is having a physical relationship with someone without taking the time for an emotional relationship. I think of it as anything beyond kissing.” So with the added rules of “hooking up,” dating in college just seems to be an ancient concept.
Why exactly has dating, the way our grandparents did it, died out and been replaced by a “hit it and quit it” mentality and random hook ups? Rarely has our generation taken the time to get to know one another further than meeting and talking at a party or bar, and spending one night having drunken sex, that ultimately may not even be good. Of the people interviewed for this article, nearly all answered that they had hooked up, or had explicitly stated that they had had sex with, at least two people this year. When asked how many dates they’ve gone on, the majority of the guys said none, while about two girls in the minority stated they’ve gone on about two to three dates in the past year. So what has happened in the past that dating has been almost completely wiped from the college experience? To put it bluntly, Alec Jachwak said, “it’s just easier. Taking a girl out means crossing a threshold which may give some guys anxiety.”
In agreement, both Gabe and Kevin said the lack of dating in college really has to do with society today. “I honestly think its classical conditioning from society. People are comfortable doing it (hooking up) and it’s what we think we’re supposed to do in college. Success in your ability to build relationships with the opposite sex is measured in how much sex you have. If you aren’t hooking up every weekend then you’ll be labeled as being on a dry spell,” Gabe said. Kevin added, “I think a lot of people do it for the thrill of it, just to say they did, which is really unfortunate to me. It’s kind of a cop out to me because it’s easy to have sex with someone rather than putting in effort to establish a bond. I think a lot of it has to do with the culture of college. It’s what we see in movies, it’s what we hear from people, and it’s what we tell people. College is the place where you go get drunk and have sex. If people come into school with that mentality then they set out to do it. I don’t think that should be acceptable in society but it is.”
So is society to blame? Do we really come to school with dating at the bottom of our agenda and hooking up and having sex leading it? If that’s the case, count me out! Or are girls to blame for having too high of an expectation of guys? Shockingly, most of the girls who were interviewed said yes, girls are to blame for lack of dates, and the guys answered that it isn’t the girl’s fault! I totally didn’t see those answers coming! One girl said it’s the girl’s fault because they get too attached after sex or a hook up and are texting a guy all the time and become too clingy, while another girl said guy’s assume that a girl has deeper feelings if they have sex more than once or twice and that’s why they automatically shut down and become distant. These ladies are some tough critics, while all of the guys interviewed more or less agreed with Tyler, a junior, who said “I think of it as more gender equality. One person will always be more interested than the other. The person with less interest will determine any future dates. So it’s not necessarily the girls fault because she could be the one less interested.” That’s right ladies, we can be heartbreakers too!
What factors would play a role in actually getting a guy or girl to see you as dating material? How do we revive the dating scene in college?! One girl put it bluntly and said, “a guy would have to graduate in order to date because they don’t have younger girls throwing themselves at them anymore,” with another girl adding jokingly “he would have to be living in his mom’s basement and wanting to settle down.” These ladies are a tough crowd! Is this really what the majority of people on campus think? Has our view on college dating really turned so cynical? Is there really no hope in finding “The One” while an undergrad like our grandparents did? My thoughts: not all hope is lost.
Okay, so we may not have a tumultuous love like Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in One Day, or the love story of the ages like The Notebook (I mean no one can pull off Noah Calhoun like Ryan Gosling. Ever.), or even the romantic story of how our grandparents met and feel in love in the 50’s, but we can learn a lesson from today’s college “dating” scene: just because we don’t date like our grandparents, doesn’t mean we can’t set our own rules for a new generation of dating, and ultimately finding The One.
We study, we party, we work, we stress, and then we stress some more. This is the life of a college student. So what if dating isn’t a top priority in our lives right now. We have A LOT going on between classes, internships, the possibility of grad school, working and so on, I think it’s safe to say that we turn to Friday and Saturday nights to be careless and to just have fun. Just because the rules of relationships have changed, it doesn’t mean they are nonexistent. Nearly half of the people interviewed for this article are in a relationship, have had one while in college, or would like to be in one. Doesn’t that say something about our generation?
We may not call what we do “dating” per se, but in some way or another some of us have managed to find one guy or girl worth our time to pursue romantically outside of the world of hooking up. Call me a hopeless romantic but I believe our generation is not a lost cause in the world of love, and yes, I have faith that one day we will see past our current world of lust and one night stands. When all is said and done, remember what kind of intentions you may want from hooking up with a guy or girl: are you looking for someone to occupy your bed for just a few hours, or are you hoping to find someone who can offer you more than just a drunken hook up?
Until next time my lovelies,