The stalemate relationship
Someone said to me recently, "There is no dating scene at Bowdoin.
People are either in relationships or looking for them." It sounded
kind of obvious and ridiculous at first, but it made me think. I know
a couple of people who have been doing some asking out recently (and I
can't say enough how great I think that is) but for the most part, at
Bowdoin, one is either taken or wants to be. What does this mean? Are
all of these couples blissfully in love? Upon closer inspection it becomes
all too clear that many of these relationships are ones of convenience
or companionship-someone wanted a relationship so they went out and got
one. But then again, is that really that bad? This week I question IS
IT OKAY TO BE IN A RELATIONSHIP THAT IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE? CAN PEOPLE
REALLY GO OUT FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF COMPANIONSHIP?
Ari is adamantly opposed to this idea. "Absolutely not!" he
says, "if you know the real thing is out there, why on earth waste
your time? If you are looking for physical pleasure, just hook up! Don't
kid yourself and be superficial." There are some people, such as
Ari, who believe in absolute true love. This is the idea that there is
only one person whom we can devote our lives to. Anything else is just
a distraction from a search for true love and therefore extraneous.
Beth agrees, "If it is not real love I wouldn't bother. I want to
work on myself and become the best person I can be for myself. At some
point someone is going to fall in love with that 'best' me." Beth
believes that it is too easy to be romanced by the temptation of someone
to cuddle with on a cold Maine night, even if that's the only reason to
be with that person.
Carrie makes an opposing point though: "What if both people know
the relationship is not going anywhere but that's what they both want?
If they both know it can end at any time but are ok with that, what's
the problem?" Herein lies a serious issue. Many times, a relationship
of convenience quickly becomes more than that for one of the parties.
He or she realizes that they want more than just a body to cuddle with
and a hand to hold at parties, and then the ideal balance is thrown off.
Inevitably one of the two gets very upset and they begin to fight and
the relationship ends soon. Bad feelings are had by all. And very soon
after, one or both of them are in another relationship because they got
lonely, not because they actually liked this new person any better than
the last one.
But returning to Beth's argument, can we really refuse to date anyone
unless we would marry them? Is that what college is about? There is an
argument that in college, one should not get serious about a person unless
they would at least consider spending the rest of their lives together.
Past the requisite freshmen flings, how much can we really rely on those
NESCAC marriage statistics?
Dave disagrees. He believes that the whole point of college is to test
out the waters, try everything out and see what you like. College prepares
you for the real world and part of that preparation is experiences to
learn about yourself and who you are becoming, romance included.
So, what to conclude, what to conclude? Is it all right to have a relationship
that is not the real thing? Let me interject some of my own personal experience.
I have had these 'relationships for companionship' and I have been happy
in them before, therefore I cannot completely render them useless. However,
I do see the problem that they cause when they distract from and even
impede future long-term happiness. So I will take a drastic stand here
and warn against falling into the trap of a long string of these relationships.
Do not dismiss them because they may teach you a lot about yourself and
about love in general. But at the same time, remember that if they are
all that you know, if every person you date is someone you settle for.
One day, when you've left the shelter of the Bowdoin bubble, you may wake
up with someone you only sort of like, someone you know you want to be
better; and that someone might be yourself.