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The Rhodes Romance Culture Explained: Ambiguous Relationships

Picture this: you are at Thanksgiving dinner, and your grandma asks, “So, do you have any boyfriends?” Boyfriends? Ha! That’s from your time, grannie. Dating is as dead as the turkey you're spearing with your fork right now...oh and there's no way I'm telling you what actually goes down at school.

You contemplate her question for a few seconds, mentally scanning this semester’s “love life,” or lack thereof, and decide to say, “No….no, not really.”

Not really?! What does that even mean?! It means, ladies and gentlemen, that we are experiencing a cultural phenomenon: the Rhodes ambiguous relationship syndrome.

Hooking up (v.) is an ambiguous term that could mean anything from kissing to hitting a home-run. But what does hooking up even mean within the Rhodes social context?!?

Sometimes, an older person will say something like “Hey, let’s ‘hook up’ this summer when you’re down in Florida!” (obviously meaning “let’s meet up for a substantial conversation and catch up”). Or when I’m fishing I’ll “hook up” a nice little rainbow trout. Or I will “hook my friend up” with a new mix CD.

Hooking up is just a generally ridiculous term, not only because of the plethora of meanings, but also because it doesn’t specify what went down between person A and person B, the frequency with which it occurs, or even a scale of interest or seriousness.

A DFMO here, a cryptic text message there…what’s a girl to do in a world that consists of flirting and 3 a.m. texts (Girl: Where are you? Boy: Zinnie’s! Come! Girl: Oh, well I’m at Alex’s...end conversation until next weekend at same time). 

Is dating really dead? For a select few, no, dating isn’t dead, but I have identified a few reasons that I believe are the culprit for Rhodes’ ambiguous relationship syndrome:

1. The cycle of freshmen girls. These seemingly harmless and innocent first-years are both a novelty and poachable prey, and continue to to enter Rhodes College without fail every August. The older guys can’t get enough of them, the younger guys can’t either (mostly because their self-esteem isn’t high enough to talk to that upperclassmen girl, even if she’s clearly interested). Freshladies, beware!
2. Schedule. Let’s face it—you practically have to allocate time into your schedule to mingle with the opposite sex. (For me, it’s weekdays 11-12 aka lunch in the Rat and Friday 4pm-Sunday  at 12 pm).
3. Relative lack of eligible bachelors. Rhodes’ is 60% girls, and 40% boys, and only so many of them are good-looking, funny, smart, charming etc. Cute Rhodes guys hook up with--rather than date--many girls for the same reason dogs lick their nether-regions…because they can. The cute ones know they are cute, and milk it for what it’s worth, and trust me, girls flock to the watering hole like they just walked the sahara. (Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t think Rhodes boys are all skirt-chasers; I’m just pointing out some interesting demographics and social patterns).

So how do we deal with all these factors working against us? My solution would be casual dating.
Both parties make it clear that they are interested, but it’s not about to be in everyone's newsfeed. However, it’s more than just sleazing around a frat party, DFMOing or more, and then sending a few texts.

Boys—I have a proposition for you. Ask that girl on a date! It doesn’t mean you are dating, it just means you get to talk to that person—preferably sober—and get to know each other in a non-sketchy way when your BAC is not hitting double digits. I guess this still doesn't solve the problem of the ambiguous relationship syndrome, but at least we can make progress toward a less sleazy Rhodes romance life.

Chelsea is a junior at Rhodes College, class of 2012, majoring in English and minoring in both Chinese & International Studies. She plans to pursue a career in print or broadcast journalism. Her involvement on campus ranges from serving as co-captain of the varsity field hockey team, to being a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, to writing sports & fashion articles for Rhodes' media outlets. Chelsea has interned at CBS Channel 4 News Boston in the sports room, as well as other companies where she enjoyed internships in event-planning, marketing, fashion, jewelry design, and human rights. Aside from work and school, Chelsea enjoys running, music, singing, and shopping online.
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