Will you go out with me?
Depending on who you ask, those six words are said too often or too rarely on campus. Two of my colleagues at The Student Life have taken opposing views on the issue. Last month, Charles Johnson wrote an op-ed describing how the lack of a college dating scene and the sheer debauchery of the TNC “meat market” drove him to search for love on Craigslist. Then, Stephan Scinto argued in the sex column that it’s better to get to know someone without going on dates and paying for their dinner (though in the same article Scinto also said, “Bearginas are vaginas in the shape of bears,” so who really knows what to think?).
Reading these articles, I became curious about why some students at the 5Cs prefer dating to hooking up, while other students prefer the opposite. There are plenty of John Krasinskis on campus—self-described “serial monogamists” who bounce from relationship to relationship. But there are also plenty of guys Nelly Furtado might call “promiscuous boys” and girls who haven’t let any kind of meaningful relationship prevent them from taking full advantage of Pub, TNC, or any of the other illustrious 5-C parties.
Now, I know the question you’re all thinking right now: “But Nick, you’re so handsome and charming that you can woo any woman you want without going on a date. You transcend both of those categories and fit into a completely different and altogether superior class of man. How are you even remotely qualified to write about these two groups?”
Good point. Luckily, I’m not writing this article alone. I’ve interviewed a few of my friends about the 5-C dating scene. Based on their unscientific and anonymous opinions, I have reached the astonishing conclusion that most people on campus are pretty happy with the status quo.
Take Guy No. 1, for instance. Since he only agreed to be interviewed anonymously (and I can’t blame him, this campus is small enough already), we’re going to call him “Bromeo,” because he’s simultaneously my bro and a total Romeo. He’s been dating his girlfriend exclusively for over six months now. Before that, he was in another long-term relationship with a girl from high school, meaning that during his time at Pomona, I have never had the pleasure of watching Bromeo get hammered and sloppily grind his way into a regrettable hookup.
Interestingly, the guy who I’ve never seen single doesn’t believe dating is for everyone. When I asked him what the appeal of dating was, he said, “There’s something fun about the whole dating experience, about going out and getting to know someone. But it takes a lot of time, effort, and money. I’ve always had the philosophy that, in college, you shouldn’t be in a relationship unless it’s worth it for you 100 percent. The pool [of dateable girls] isn’t huge—I just happened to find a very good fish in a very large sea.”
When I posed the same question to Guy No. 2, however, I got a similar response. A little background: Guy No. 2 has never had a girlfriend, but if he ever put the right number of notches in his bedpost then he’d be sleeping on a pile of sawdust. We’re going to call him Hank Moody (from “Californication”), since they share the same goal of “drowning in a sea of pointless [female companionship]”.
“I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with dating,” Moody said. “But a lot of people jump into relationships for the wrong reasons. They feel this expectation that, ‘Oh, I’m 21, I should have a boyfriend or girlfriend.’”
So just how many girls would these guys consider having an exclusive relationship with? The answer: not many. Bromeo said that if he were single, he would consider asking out maybe five percent of the girls on the 5Cs. When I asked Hank Moody, the number was even lower.
“Let’s see, I’ve wanted to date one girl, and there’s about 800 girls on campus,” he said. “So that’s about 0.2 percent. Maybe 0.5 percent if you include the rest of the 5Cs.”
As blunt as that is, it works both ways. I asked one of my lady friends to weigh in, and the answers were similarly brutal.
Girl No. 1, who I would describe as one of the biggest romantics I know, said that she considered only “a very small percentage” of guys on campus “dateable.”
“I just think that most guys in college give the impression that they’re into having fun and not making any long-term commitments, since we’re only here for four years,” she said. “A lot of guys’ way of initiating something with you is to grind up on you at a dance party. That doesn’t really give the impression that they want to get to know you as a person.”
That’s not completely fair though. I mean, these guys just want to dance. But Bromeo agrees that a lot of males aren’t really looking for anything serious:
“I think most guys who are hooking up, that’s what they want to do,” he said. It’s not any reflection on the student body, either—Bromeo says that it “wouldn’t matter whether they’re at Pomona or ASU.”
But even before I read Charles Johnson’s article, it seemed like some people still want more than meaningless one-night encounters. When I asked my interviewees if they thought everyone who wanted to date was dating, the answer was a unanimous “no.” Hank Moody summed it up best: “No, dude. There are tons of girls on campus who aren’t dating.”
As much as we joke, though, the secret desire for dating is probably a two-way street. So that raises one final question: can a relationship materialize from one magical night at TNC? Here, our jury is out.
“I mean, I’ve seen it happen,” Ms. Romantic said. “It’s kind of rare because you’re sort of working backwards. If you just find out that you’re sexually attracted, start dating and then a month in realize you hate each other as people, then you shouldn’t be dating.”
Bromeo agrees that the transition doesn’t happen too often. “It’d be a very rare case where someone you hook up with winds up being a person you date exclusively,” he said. “I think most people who date developed a relationship from some common interest or activity, not from a post-Pub endeavor.”But Hank Moody disagreed.
“If you hook up with a girl and it turns out she’s cool, why not date her?”
Who knows, maybe it’s too early to dismiss the campus dating scene out of hand. But whatever balance of dating and dancing you choose, it’s important to remember that your love life is what you choose to make it. I think, if it’s possible, that Stephan and Charles were both right. To each his own approach—Scinto can not date out of principle at the same time Johnson takes single moms from Craigslist out to dinner. Being single or having a girlfriend in college isn’t a choice between two inherently good or bad choices—it’s whatever you want it to be.