Minus the City – Great Expectations

Deb Charney

Expectations. As a kid, your parents expect certain things from you. Get good grades, make friends, and stay firm to the belief that the opposite sex is infested with the intangible monsters we all know as “cooties.” In middle and high school, there’s the expectation of a first boyfriend, first kiss, and along with those inevitably awkward events comes the expectation that you will pretend as if the sloppy incident in which you both tilted your head the same way, got your lip stuck on his braces, and didn’t know where to put your hands was the best thirty seconds of your life so far. At those stages of life, expectations are relatively easy to guess, define, and meet.

Expectations at college, on the other hand, are a whole different ballgame. Perhaps most important is the age-old question of what the other sex is expecting. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent sitting on my bed with friends discussing what in the world their guy-of-the-moment is expecting. They hooked up once at the Jug but he didn’t walk her home; does he want her to actually use that phone number she found on Facebook? Should she forget it ever happened, or experience the cringe-worthy moment of knowing eye contact when he walks into class on Monday, in the hopes that he just might smile back?

What about after they’ve been “seeing each other” for weeks — does he expect her to make the first move in calling it a relationship? Or would he rather hook up all semester with his Facebook profile still proudly saying single and the freedom to go out with no official strings attached?

And, of course, this column wouldn’t be complete without making mention of the most unclear expectation moment in many of our college lives: you end up at home in his or her room, inevitably on the bed (because for most of us, it’s the only place in the room large enough for two people to sit, much less do anything more), and you can’t help but wonder what this virtual stranger is expecting. We can assume they want to “hook-up,” but what does that infamous phrase meant to this particular person?

In a world where text messaging is an appropriate way to ask someone out on a date, it’s hard to preach open communication as the answer to all of our relationship questions. And yet, when it comes to expectations, it’s nearly impossible to clear the air and find out what in the world the other person is thinking without just getting it all out there in the open.

Sure, your expectations will conflict at times, but you’ll never even get to that conflict if you don’t take a little chance and find out what the mysterious person on the other side of your twin extra long bed is thinking. I happen to be in about the most communicative relationship I’ve ever really seen, sometimes to a fault, but where unclear expectations are concerned, a little more talking will break down the barrier. And, in all likelihood, it will leave you with a text message reply and some clue of what to expect from the guy who until that moment was simply “my last Jug hook-up.”