College students around the world dread the question when we arrive home. It’s inevitable, of course; it will come from the parents, the nosy grandma, the great aunt we haven’t seen in three years, the second cousin twice removed, the guy that’s somehow related to our mom’s cousin but we have absolutely no idea how, the dog who somehow asks you the question with his eyes.
“Any new boys in your life?” No one wants to hear that question, even if I’m in a happy, healthy relationship. If I do have a boy in my life, why am I about to tell you Aunt Gladys?
We also have the problem of Aunt Gladys and I’s different ideas of what a relationship is. No, I did not meet him in an innocent, sober setting and no, he did not call me up the next day, asking to take me to that nice Italian restaurant where he would pay for my meal and drive me home—all without expecting to be invited inside.
No, that did not happen, Aunt Gladys. Please stop, you’re making me want to vomit.
If we did decide to tell her all about the reality of this relationship, Aunt Gladys would probably vomit too. I doubt she wants to hear about the things my friends do, like his dick size.
We don’t go on dates with this boy, we don’t talk on the phone, we don’t eat meals alone together, we don’t, in general, allow ourselves to be seen alone in public because God forbid anyone ever sees us and jumps to the wrong conclusion.
That we could be “dating.”
We all shudder at the word.
If I so much as suggested to my Prince Charming that I would like something a little bit more than us head-nodding one another when I see him on campus and then getting the text every Saturday night at 1 am “You up?” I imagine he would climb on his white horse and gallop to a faraway kingdom as quickly as he could, where he can find another princess.
I have no true right to be cynical, since in the past when my princes have suggested taking us more seriously, I have hopped on my horse too.
This world we live in demonizes dating, creates a level of terror around the mere idea of being connected in such a way with another human being. Often, those of us that cannot handle that type of commitment know we can’t because we have attempted such a feat before. It may have been a high school relationship that crumbled painfully around our fingers when we tried to pull it into college. Or it may have been a college relationship, that blew up in our faces in a confetti of alcohol and tears.
Any relationship that I have heard of in my college career has crashed and burned in a spectacular fire show that would be entertaining in a show like “Friends” or “How I Met Your Mother.” Let’s list off some examples.
One of my friends decided to talk to her boyfriend during a rough patch about all the things she thought they should try to do better, prepared to end it if he thought it was too much. He agreed wholeheartedly with her suggestions, leading her to believe that they would make it, only to dump her the next morning. Another girl I know dated a guy for three years only to find out he was cheating on her during the last one. When one of my friends was abroad, she was so excited to see her boyfriend after receiving lovely texts about how much he loved her that she went straight to his house off the train. They had sex, and then he dumped her.
I would never pretend it is only the guys who are dicks, of course: one of my friends broke up with her boyfriend only to date her best guy friend who he always hated, so now none of us are allowed at his fraternity anymore. One of my guy friends dated a girl all through high school and attempted to keep it going in college, until he discovered she cheated on him as soon as she arrived to her new school.
Never have I ever heard a story where the two parted terms peacefully, to behave maturely when they next saw each other with no relapses, no shouting matches and no drunken tears. So, naturally, when these people are offered a chance to be in another relationship in college of that sort, they run away as fast as they can. And everyone else, who may never have had a boyfriend or a girlfriend, hears these stories and thinks, “Nah, I’m good.”
Instead, we devolve into a world of “hooking up,” a term we all know and love (?).
The world where you might have met this guy at a party, bar, or at the library, or at work, or maybe he was just your friend at first, and now you see him every Friday and Saturday night at his place or yours; the next morning, you are alone by 10 am ready for the rest of the day, after hiding your hickeys of course.
We think this is easier. Why deal with the stress of relationships? Why bother with such pettiness as “dating” and “going out” when it is so much easier to meet up at 1 am and leave before breakfast?
We are the generation of texting, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat stories, Apple Watches and Pokémon Go. We are the generation that has no patience for anything. If my phone stops working for about three minutes, I think about throwing myself off a building. We are the overreacting, impatient, overexcited youth that looks at memes instead of the news.
So, when we have the option, why would we ever want to deal with those horrid break-ups, those half-assed phone calls, those expensive dinners, when there are other options to keep ourselves satisfied? We go the easy way each and every time.
So no, Aunt Gladys, I don’t have a nice boy in my life.
And I don’t want one.