Minus the City: A Look at Modern Romance

Welcome back, Colgate, I hope you had a safe and sexy break. I know you’ve been dying for the return of the weekly “Minus the City” column to inform your love and sex lives, and I promise not to disappoint. 

While the rest of you were slacking off during our winter vacation, I was hard at work, dutifully researching for this column. By “hard at work,” I mean reading the Cosmopolitan Snapchat stories and checking my romance horoscope. Eventually, I got a little more serious, picking up a copy of Modern Romance, by comedian Aziz Ansari. I understand that certain allegations have painted Ansari as a controversial figure at this moment in time, but I chose to read and write about his book because I believe it’s some of the most important and insightful journalism on dating, love and sex for the Millennial generation to date. In case you weren’t aware, Millennials are us – you, me, that person you hooked up with at the Jug and the entire student body currently at Colgate. The Millennial generation has been defined as “those born in 1982 and approximately the 20 years thereafter,” by researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss. Aziz Ansari is a Millennial, and the weird struggle he faced in the dating world was a big part of what drove his inspiration for Modern Romance. He makes two really key points about the challenges we face with love and lust these days; what we want out of relationships has changed and how we meet people has changed. Our social norms for dating, as a result, have been shown the door. We’ve been released into the world without a map and with a compass that doesn’t work. No wonder hookup culture is so prevalent.

There’s another factor that Ansari mentions, that I believe is particularly important to highlight. I realize that just a second ago I made it sound like no one has any clue as to what they’re doing, that we’re all lost and confused and that’s why we engage in casual relationships. That makes it sound like being lost and confused at our age is a new thing, but it’s not. People in their early twenties have always been lost and confused; the difference is that we’re allowed to figure the world out on our own now. Ansari describes how young people used to get married because it was a way to get out of their parents’ house and actually enjoy the freedom of adulthood. These days, we have “emerging adulthood,” and we get to be grown-ups with training wheels. Like, you can live on your own and start your career, but you’re definitely still on your parents’ health insurance and phone plan. It feels like a freefall. Everyone our age is in a constant state of falling, but our generation is unique in that we’re allowed ample time to flail, then stabilize, on our own. 

Dating is hard (see: dictionary definition for “impossible”) at Colgate. The relationships that do develop here evolve from friendships and previous casual hookups; the Colgate bubble isn’t a place you can ask someone out for coffee or dinner just to get to know them. And while at times I want to scream into the void, angry at the lack of genuine human and romantic connection here, I’m also so, so grateful I don’t go to a school where “ring by spring” is an actual thing. Colgate is an imperfect and messy place to flail, but done right, your time here can be an important lesson on how to be alone. That is, unless you find love at the Jug.

Contact Kate Hinsche at [email protected].