Minus the City: Are You Seeing Anybody?

I have this theory that my extended family and family friends get a serious adrenaline rush from asking me that golden question. “So do you have a boyfriend?” is the prying conversation starter I had almost forgotten about until I attended a wedding right before I returned to Colgate this year. It really blindsided me; most of the adults in my life know I haven’t had a serious boyfriend since I was 16 and have probably lost hope for my romantic life. I don’t blame my mom’s college best friend for not understanding my perpetual single status, but if you’ve been asked this question, you know how uncomfortable it can be to answer. It forces you to evaluate an aspect of your life that is easier to ignore and explain it to someone.

This question is especially tricky for a Colgate student, because explaining ‘Gate hookup culture and how it isn’t conducive to dating to Great-Aunt Barb is the worst nightmare of any Raider attending a family function. “Do you have any prospects?” No, but I have punch and an elevated surface waiting for me on Broad Street, thanks for asking. 

If this were the rant of a bitter, lonely female rom-com protagonist at the beginning of a movie, I’d be in an exasperated pursuit of Mr. Right and going through a roster of less-than-stellar first date prospects. A relationship would be the endgame. Luckily, my character arc does not depend on the pursuit of romance. That is, I think, where the issue lies in probing people’s love lives. It puts the pressure on to be in a relationship, no matter if it’s with the right person for the right reasons. 

I’ve heard so many people cry out in exasperated tones, “I want a boyfriend/girlfriend!” You shouldn’t want a relationship; you should want the person you’re in a relationship with. This is important to keep in mind as we enter the “Autumnal Cuffing” season. Maybe something about leaves changing colors and chunky knit sweaters screams romance, or every year around this time people get tired of their summer hookup habits, but no matter the cause, people tend to enter into exclusive relationships around this time of year. As much as romance is glorified and idealized in pop culture, it’s not a universally good or necessary thing for every individual person. It’s already a heavy workload to be an independent young adult maintaining academics, social life and self-care. People tend to forget that having a significant other means being a support system to another human being and sharing the burden of their baggage. It’s not something to be taken lightly.

The hookup culture has many flaws, but there’s a reason it dominates the romantic and sexual scene at Colgate and many other universities. Avoiding emotional attachment makes it a lot easier to focus on our personal development and long term goals. This may not be the healthiest method of juggling the different sectors of our lives, but the moment in time that we spend at Colgate is where we learn how to balance everything. We don’t have to be perfect from the get-go. 

Whether or not a relationship is something that you want at this point in your life, forget about Cuffing season, and forget about nosy relatives. It’s dehumanizing to value the relationship status over the individuals involved.

Contact Kate Hinsche at [email protected]