A few weeks ago I was crossing Sheridan Road with a friend when a guy suddenly approached her, told her she was beautiful and asked for her number. I stood there like the awkward third wheel that I am and was shocked at his nonchalance. He didn’t make a big deal out of it, and he was completely up-front about his attraction. I openly gawked at them until he remembered I was there and introduced himself to me.
College dating doesn’t want to die. In other words, students are interested in more substantial relationships, but most don’t know where to start.
I’ve heard several times that dating is dead and the “hookup” culture is its successor. Some statistics say that dating is a thing of the past: Stanford University sociologist Paula England, for example, says that 72 percent of college seniors have had at least one “hookup.” According to her study, men have had an average of 9.7 “hookups” and women have had an average of 7.1 by senior year.
But is this really what students want? According to a report conducted by the Institute for American Values, one third of seniors have been on fewer than two dates in their four years of college. Justin Garcia, a doctoral fellow at State University of New York at Binghamton, has researched the “hookup” culture and says students’ confusion over how to start a relationship is the reason for this lack of dating.
Weinberg sophomore Linzy Wagner met her boyfriend of four months at the end of their freshman year. They started off as close friends before they became an official couple. She said she pursued him at first because he is shy, and she thinks more girls should make their attraction known.
“A lot of boys especially seem to be a little more on the shy side and intimidated by a lot of girls,” she said. “I definitely think it’s important for girls to let guys know when they actually do like them.”
Maybe the reason Northwestern students “hook up” is because they don’t know how to ask each other out. Like the huge nerds that we are, we cower in the corner when it comes to talking to people and instead geek out over Game of Thrones.
Likewise, technology makes it easier to avoid face-to-face communication. Based on what I’ve heard from friends, many students choose Facebook stalking instead of approaching their crushes in person, in the hopes that their secret crush will one day notice them. In-person conversations have become almost obsolete with texting, Facebook, Twitter and even Snapchat.
The Northwestern Confessions Facebook page documents a string of confessions from frustrated or unsuccessful lovers. Many posts have a similar message: “I have never been so lonely in my life.” “I wish girls here, and in general, would be more blatant about their affections for guys.” “As sad as this may sound, I've fully accepted the idea of being single for the rest of my life.” “It's my junior year at Northwestern and I haven't had a relationship since high school.”
Northwestern Crushes is equally, if not more, guilty of deflecting face-to-face communication. And what exactly is the point of these pages? It’s anonymous, so your crush will not magically find you and sweep you off your feet.
“In this day and age, especially when we have all these things like Northwestern Crushes and stuff like that, it’s really sad how the dating scene is kind of becoming detached,” Wagner says. “I think it’s important for us to remember that ultimately you can’t just write about someone on an anonymous thing, you’re going to have to face them if you want to make strides.”
So get off Northwestern Crushes and say it to the person’s face. Put down Lord of the Rings – you can reread it later. Stop claiming “there are no cute guys/girls on this campus” – we all see right through that lame excuse. If you’re looking for love, lock away your awkwardness and insecurity and make your feelings known. Remember the guy who approached my friend to tell her she’s cute, and follow his lead. You can thank me on your honeymoon.