end of my first year signaled a time of introspection for me, a time to synthesize
all that I had learned at Pomona. This process was indulgent and languorous and included a Sex and the City marathon: a TV show about stylish women navigating the
dating culture in New York City. Carrie
Bradshaw’s monologues, which had once seemed distant and dramatic, suddenly
sounded extremely relevant.
and why do the appalling stereotypes surrounding love portrayed in the show still
persist even in a place like Claremont, considered so ‘liberal’ and
‘progressive,’ more than a decade after the show originally aired?
similarities between the current students at the 5Cs and the crème de la crème
of the Five Boroughs in the show are staggering. Just like the intoxicated
bride in one of the earliest episodes, many inebriated friends have sincerely
advised me to pursue someone who loves me more than I will ever love them.
a 21st-century romantic like me, that view of love sounds an awful lot like
hedging your bets in a way that pays off. You obviously like your significant
other enough to commit to a relationship, but you remain relatively
invulnerable. You are still safe from heartbreak.
Unfortunately, though, I understand their perspective. It speaks to the broader dating
culture that thrives at not just the 5Cs but at colleges globally. Despite the
geographical diversity in the institutions of higher education that my friends and I
attend, we have had a somewhat universal experience when it comes to the manifestation
of love on campus. Even in the wake of sexual assault horror stories and the
possibility of contracting all sorts of atrocious STDs, it seems as though we, as a generation, far prefer a string of hook-ups to monogamous, invested
We face an odd paradox. We yearn for intimacy without really wanting to
work to make it a permanent fixture in our lives. While I myself do not casually hook
up, whenever my friends and I discuss getting involved romantically with
someone (i.e. anything beyond a consistent hook-up) we have one prerequisite: Our
significant other should be capable of catching us if we fall—not ‘in love’
but ‘out’ of it, catching us when we find ourselves spiraling out of control
and staring failure in the eye.
I, for one, have made many reckless decisions in an attempt to make sense of the
turmoil in my heart and soul that college seems to have fueled.
entire process is exhausting. Rationally, it’s understandable to want someone to
cling onto when you find yourself confronted by this internal strife and the
possibility that you will remain uncertain and restless for a while longer, especially
when the end of the week or semester that signals an escape is simply too far
need for companionship, platonic or otherwise, may very well betray the grand
romantic notions of wild passion and uninhibited love to which we are all continually
exposed. It also points to a natural human need. A lover serves as a mirror
for us to perfect our own reflection, to find validation not just of our
existence but of our allure and appeal.
love, like everything else in college, is expected to happen at breakneck speed. We
skip over the many small but significant steps that allow us to fulfill our
emotional and psycho-social needs completely. We cheat ourselves of the
possibility of breaking away from our perfect façade and being accepted for who
we really are, flaws and all.
fool ourselves into believing that the more people we dance with and find our
legs entangled with the next morning—with emotions unscrupulously disengaged—the better we have played the game of love. We run through the motions of
love-making, but rarely of love. And this game we play on sweaty dance floors
and dark dorm rooms ends with only a shallow victory.
wonder how many others feel that way. Who else finds the tiny college single too
big sometimes, or wonders who authors the anonymous confessions alluding to the need for a
be told, I find it ridiculous how we view our romantic and sexual relationships
as mere measures of success. We need to stop applying the academic tools of
perusal and persuasion that we are taught here in Claremont to our emotions and
experiences. The numerical victories of dance floor make-outs and hook-ups that bring us
temporary satisfaction are incapable of giving us lasting joy. These games that
prey on fear and our false sense of pride are making our hearts and souls grow
so very cold.
Fortunately, though, we as a campus community have the power to redefine the rules. So let’s
not just seek fleeting companionship, but teach ourselves to ask for support
when we need it most.
Aiman Chaudhary PO ’17 is a pseudo-philosophizing poet and politics major from Lahore, Pakistan.