Alivia’s and I have entered into a committed relationship.
Although the other Main Street bars may be disappointed to learn that I’m no longer on the market, I’m ready to wholeheartedly embrace exclusivity. In the interest of full disclosure, my devotion to Alivia’s did not begin as love at first sight. Throughout the initial three years of my Duke barhopping experience, Alivia’s seemed like the black sheep of collegiate nightlife, an empty social recluse next to Devines’ obvious popularity. Notably, Alivia’s lacked cheap tallboys, student musical performances, elevated cages and, most importantly, any semblance of a youthful and jovial crowd and required over-age ID.
Now, in the twilight of my senior year, I’ve realized that Alivia’s is there for me in ways that Devines can’t match, fulfilling needs that Shooters ignores. Only Alivia’s supplies me with a sense of youthful exuberance beside the aging graduate students. I converse with the friends I know, far away from the freshmen I don’t have time to get to know. At Alivia’s, I post up and I’m the man. I realized I was ready to take things to the next level when the bartender actually left on a dead Wednesday night, leaving my friends inside to entertain ourselves at leisure. And when he upgraded my whiskey coke from house Aristocrat to Jim Bean, I knew things were serious. If loving Alivia’s is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Appropriately, my recent willingness to take my relationship with a Durham bar to the next level led me to a Tuesday night conversation at Alivia’s about taking actual human relationships to the next level. What key milestones signaled the transition from casualness to seriousness? How do you move your relationship up the progressively growing ladder and keep from sticking to the rung of stagnation?
Unsurprisingly, definitions of “taking it to the next level” varied along gendered lines. For most women (stereotypically), commitment required the gradual mirroring of a married partnership. Parents are introduced, meals are shared with increasing consistency and female grooming supplies are left in male-dominated bathrooms. When romance and devotion appear to stall, women create a new hurdle of mature behavior for their significant other to jump through. If one were to take away the hoops of weekend trips, thoughtful jewelry selections and shared Netflix accounts, the male partner may grow slack or increasingly unclear about the purpose of the relationship.
In contrast, men define taking things to the next level as anal or a threesome (although generally not in combination). Arguably, this seems like a logical conclusion: Once one tires of the standard places to use a penis, the only option is to discover new locations or add to the selection pool. That being said, if my friends are any indication of the sexually active norm, most men’s vision of relationship progress is quickly quashed. Last time I checked, there weren’t many willing volunteers waiting for the opportunity to participate in an evening of group sex with a couple looking to expand their horizons. And I probably don’t have to elaborate on the qualms against anal. I guess there’s always Craigslist.
Progress is relative. Be careful what you commit to. Post up, chill, be the man—and know it’s going to happen.