Doesn’t it seem like we’re all going on the same terrible first dates over and over again? Aren’t we all in the constant state of avoiding that person we hooked up with sophomore year when Brown House still seemed like our most glorious cultural institution? What even is dating on the Hilltop?
To fully comprehend the problem at hand, let’s look at it from an outsider’s perspective. Pick someone over the age of, say, 40, and try to explain your love life to them. About 25 seconds after you use phrases like “I don’t do labels” or “but she watches all my snap stories,” their eyes will start to glaze over. At this point, you’ve probably confused them in a cloud of foggy definitions and an altogether absent sense of precision.
This problem certainly isn’t helped by Georgetown’s “hookup culture.” Whether direct or digital, dating can be a labyrinth, and there’s even a whole lexicon for describing how you’re not dating someone. “We’re just talking” becomes “we’ve been hanging out” before you even reach the stage of “hooking up.” Ironic, given that you probably met on a dating app, but OK. Not to mention that it seems like once you’ve entered the “hooking up” zone, your chances of ever having a “relationship” deplete to near-zero.
Supposedly something like 250 percent of Hoyas marry other Hoyas, so there’s got to be a spark there somewhere, and maybe that’s why we keep looking for that special someone. But while we may have expected all the passion of “Brokeback Mountain,” more of us seem to be quietly sneaking condoms from the H*yas for Choice envelope on our neighbor’s door before disturbing the poor soul with whom we share a wall. It’s understandable if you don’t want to introduce your parents to the only other person to witness you overcome your internalized repression from Catholic school. However, retroactively deeming your relationship “just a hookup” isn’t exactly what the Jesuits mean by cura personalis.
This problem isn’t helped by Georgetown’s inherently political nature. It’s not that you can’t date a card-carrying member of another party, though many students refuse to date outside their political sphere (their “swipe in the direction of your political views” bios on Tinder are not that funny). At this school, seeing a GU College Democrats member dating someone who espouses the virtues of #MakeAmericaGreatAgain is a similar experience to seeing tulips on campus: Bipartisan relationships are beautiful in a way, but they come out of nowhere, disappear faster than you can appreciate them and seem to be an absolute misappropriation of time and resources. It seems like we collectively raise our eyebrows when the Bumble conversation veers into what theory of international relations you agree with — I mean, props on your time management skills, but do we need to do this, like, right now? Just assume they’re a fan of “The West Wing” and ask for their favorite character; it’s subtler.
OK, so there’s a lot of baggage that comes with relationships and sex on campus. But what’s our takeaway? If we’re being honest, it’s that your favorite middle-aged person isn’t confused by your love life because they don’t understand Snapchat. It’s because we’ve made dating and romance pretty confusing.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. Society tells us to date around in college, but you want to know how to do it like an adult? Try making things a little clearer, even at the expense of some spontaneity. If things go well, there’ll be much more time for romance later.
Say non-committal sexual liberation is your thing; go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing. We’ve all seen our friends get strung along by someone who seems to want a relationship but either ghosts or backs out post-romantic rendezvous. And many of us have been that ghost who backs out. So, don’t pretend to be into your lab partner who’s looking for his first lady if you know you’re going to spend every date rolling your eyes at his passion for politics.
And if you’re using Tinder as your meal plan? We support your hustle to get as much free food as possible, but your dates might not. However, if you find one who is in it for the validation and you can deliver that while he delivers your takeout, who are we to judge? All we’re suggesting is that you have a quick chat about what you’re getting into first.
Defining relationships is always going to be awkward, and if college really is for dating around, most of us have a few more to experience before we find our Hoya Happily Ever After. But you can avoid some excruciating and mutually disappointing “What are we?” conversations down the road by figuring out what you and your love interest want and expect ahead of time. Whether it’s an “I don’t do hookups” declaration over some music at a party or the classic “So what are you looking for?” on Tinder, we can all do our part to make dating in college a more satisfying experience.
Molly Cooke and Marina Pitofsky are seniors in the College. This is the second installment of their summer column, Adventures in Adulting.