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Marriage Pact II: Reflections and revelations about love and companionship

September 30, 2022

Chayma Charifi

The Chapel’s bell tower sounded a little different this past Monday. For a brief moment, the rings sounded like the heavenly chimes of wedding bells, setting the tone for this year’s Marriage Pact participants.

This past Monday, September 26, was the second annual Marriage Pact—a data-based survey that serves to create connections between students at Bowdoin. For Thando Khumalo ’23, this will be her second year as one of the students behind the matchmaking questionnaire.

“Our goal was [to encourage students to meet] new people… it also achieves some sort of campus cohesion because people are talking about it,” Khumalo said.

For good friends Luke Porter ’23 and Abby Bennitt ’23, this year’s marriage pact experience was closer to home.

“So we were sitting together at dinner and then the email comes out with the initials. And Luke looked horrified and goes, ‘Abby, check your email right now. Good news? Bad news?’ And then I checked, and we matched,” Bennitt said.

It was no surprise to the two that they matched, given how platonically compatible they are. But their compatibility remains at friendship, and Porter made sure to emphasize this when the algorithm worked its magic.

“Before we even got confirmation, Luke [said] that he would sooner join a monastery than marry me,” Bennitt said.

This year’s Marriage Pact also strengthened existing friendships and—if you filled out the questionnaire at the last minute or were a victim of unbalanced demographic ratios—planted seeds for new ones to blossom. Siena Harrigan ’25 is one of many students who got placed on a waitlist for marriage pacts and received friendship matches as a substitute.

“I’m excited to get to know [my friendship match]. She seems super sweet,” Harrigan said. “But yeah, I’m disappointed I didn’t get an actual marriage pact because I love the drama.”

Harrigan’s situation is not uncommon. 66 students received friendship matches, including Khumalo.

For other students, however, this year’s Marriage Pact prompted reflection upon the beginnings of relationships. This was the case for Khushi Patel ’23 and Colby Santana ’23, who matched last year and have been in a relationship since.

Writing Patel and Santana’s love story off as a Marriage Pact success would not encapsulate the whole tale. Their story begins with a pessimistic Patel, who filled out the Marriage Pact questionnaire intentionally but had abandoned all hope for ‘the perfect love match.

“[I wasn’t] looking for a relationship, like things haven’t worked out in the past. [My friend said] just fill it out for funsies,” Patel said. “[I thought] ‘Oh, it’s gonna be a random stranger. We’re not gonna reach out to talk and that’ll be that and I’ll laugh over it.’”

When Marriage Pact results came out, Patel didn’t get matched with a stranger; instead, she recognized Santana’s name, a casual friend at the time.

“I had known Colby through a mutual friend and we had our first year seminar together. So I kind of knew him, but not to the extent of where [we] had a one on one conversation,” Patel said. “The emails came out with the names and I got Colby, obviously he got my name … I didn’t know this at the time, but a couple of my friends and Colby were all in one apartment trying to figure out if I’d be interested in going on a date.”

Unknown to Patel at the time, Santana had a crush on her. The Marriage Pact’s matchmaking algorithm provided him with the unique opportunity to gauge Patel’s romantic interest in a low stakes way. A romantic—albeit awkward—picnic date set the stage for this couple’s Marriage Pact success.

“The night before [the date] I’d asked [Patel] if she had any allergies while I was making my [picnic] basket because that was important. She was like, ‘No, I don’t have any allergies,’” Santana said. “So we’re talking in the car and she says ‘Yeah, I’m allergic to apple juice but I still like drinking it.’ I kind of just [paused] because most of the stuff I had, had apples in it. I was like, ‘Damn, I’m ruining this date.’”

In the spirit of making new connections, Santana offers a piece of advice for students who have yet to contact their match.

“Reach out and always be respectful. You never know what to expect from these kinds of things,” Santana said.


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