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Sexperts: Pursuing the Chase

Sexpert David Matteson ’15 asks, “Is the temporary nature of college a viable excuse for not looking for love?”

On a particularly casual Friday evening, a Tar and a Knight met for drinks to catch-up and offer our contrasting points of view on a variety of topics.

Finals and summer internships certainly commanded the majority of the conversation, but what startled me the most was Brendan’s response to my questions on dating.  A former romantic, Brendan and I have known each other for the better part of six years—and while we chose two very different college paths (He is an engineering major at UCF, and I am a studio art major here at Rollins), we usually share a similar point of view.  But when I asked Brendan if he had started seeing someone this semester his answer surprised me, “No, and if I don’t meet a girl this summer, I’m going to stop looking.  I’m just going to wait until after graduation and get out of Florida.”

The idea of actively looking for a partner is a concept I have not paid much attention to.  Yes, college is this temporal setting and we certainly do not know where any of us are going to end up—but does that justify our unwillingness to become romantically involved?  Is this disinterest in anything serious the foundation of the hook-up culture our generation is seemingly obsessed with?

I started thinking about looking for love.  How we go through periods where we actively pursue candidates in the hopes of ultimately finding someone that is going to make us happy.  Sometimes this pursuit can be an overwhelming full-time job—especially when we consider the number of dating apps and websites in existence.  My friend Charlie is constantly hooked in to some form of social media in order to find the perfect mate—Plenty of Fish, Grindr, e-Cupid-something-or-other.  And yet, despite all of these efforts, Charlie has yet to meet a man on any of these outlets who satisfies his high standards for partnership.

In terms of my own experience with looking, I have certainly had luck. While I am familiar with online dating and mobile apps, all of my past and present serious relationships began with chance meetings.  I met my first serious boyfriend at a bike-a-thon for education, and my current partner and I met through mutual friends out at a bar last summer.  Both of these instances were during periods where I was not necessarily looking for a relationship—and yet love found me.

Maybe we should treat the pursuit passively; letting connections and partners find us in rare chance meetings rather than actively seeking out new people at bars or online.  I consistently tell my single friends that they will meet someone when they least expect it, but when it happens they will be aware that something has drastically changed.  While this is certainly what happened to me, I am not sure that this always holds true.

There is a balance that must be achieved between an active and passive pursuit.  Stop inundating yourself with new partners online or at clubs and gain awareness of the people surrounding you.  You might be surprised as to who has been waiting for you this entire time.  Maintaining an awareness and standing strong as a confident individual makes you more accessible to finding a partner—even in unusual settings.  Hell, I have been asked out while pumping gas and folding laundry at the laundromat.  Ultimately, it is about commanding your presence and staying alert to those surrounding you.

Brendan’s statement also brought up the complications of college in regards to dating: the idea that we are in a short, fixed period of limbo between our child past and adult future.  I think this excuse is simply a red herring.  And yet, watching seniors break-up with their younger partners in preparation for graduation and the next chapter in life, heightens my awareness of the college-temporal factor.  But I stand strong in my position—ending a relationship out of fear for an unstable future is cowardice.  If you love someone, then you will figure it out.  Rather than detonate a relationship, communicate and find a solution to make the coming future work in both of your favors.  Do not just end a relationship on the grounds of uncertainty.

College is certainly a finite period, but that is not a viable excuse to stop looking.  You can find someone here, in this moment, and make it work for future success.  Strike a balance between active and passive pursuits, but ultimately: never give up on the chase.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur, its staff or Rollins College.

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