Alex was a pretty cool guy. He liked watching basketball and like me, was a Heat fan. The first time we hung out, we were at a club in South Beach with some friends; everything was going well until some random guy asked me to dance with him. All I can remember now is the horrified look on Alex’s face as I turned away to walk with this guy to the dance floor. That’s when I learned the first rule about dating: Don’t leave your date to dance with someone else.
To be fair, I was on a blind date with Alex and had no idea. My friend had sent me a message in warning that I had apparently missed. I apologized to Alex later, but I’ve tried to block it from my memory since then. The fiasco popped into my mind this weekend as my friends and I discussed dating at Duke.
When you arrive at the second semester of your senior year, you sort of slide into this dating slump. Most of us fall into one of three categories: happily in a relationship that will continue after graduation, uncomfortably in a relationship that doesn’t look like it’s going to make it or resignedly giving up looking for a relationship because there are only two months left until graduation.
The next item on my graduation bucket list is meant to help you avoid the last two categories: Practice dating.
I’m no expert on dating. What I’ve gathered from years of romantic comedies and many awkward situations is that you may have to go through some pretty awful dates before you finally get to the good ones. But the good thing is that you can look back and laugh at those embarrassing situations. Don’t use these anecdotes on a date, though. Your date will just chuckle in concern as they realize they could be your next anecdote.
At Duke, we get so wrapped up in the hookup culture that I worry our graduates will be some of the brightest people in the country, but have the social skills of a squirrel, or more specifically, a Duke squirrel.
The hookup culture is great if that’s what you’re looking for at this point in your life. But if it’s merely a scapegoat to avoid mustering up the courage to ask someone out, then it can’t be beneficial for the long run. Many of us have been successful at nearly everything we’ve tried—from school to sports to parties. But when it comes to dating, even perfectionists gulp in exasperation as they realize that they will have to spend hours in conversation with someone they hardly know.
Hookups may pass as acceptable during these four years, but if “How I Met Your Mother” character Barney Stinson has taught us anything, it’s that one day, we’ll want more than even “The Playbook” can give us. And I’m not quite sure yet, but it’s probably a bad idea to learn the basics of dating when you’re 28 and your mother gives you a three-month ultimatum before she looks for your future husband in India.
For those of you who are in a dead-end relationship solely for the sake of having a guaranteed date every Valentine’s Day, the fear of being pushed once again into the dating world is as good a deterrent from breaking up as any. The dating world can be scary and frustrating, but it can also be fun and exciting. And although graduation is not really a good enough reason to break out of a relationship, fear of dating again is definitely not a good enough reason to stay in one.
As a senior, dating feels a bit pointless because you or your close friends have dated/hooked up with seemingly everyone in your class (and apparently had horrible experiences). And there are two reasons that such an attitude is just plain wrong. First, you never know when you could fall for someone you didn’t hit it off with right away (see “When Harry Met Sally”); and second, it could be good practice for the future.
It’s time to stop looking wistfully at the “Duke is for Lovers” poster in Perkins and take some steps toward maybe ending up there one day. Embrace your assets (in every meaning of that word), and get to know someone outside of the glorious walls of Shooters.
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Sony Rao is a Trinity senior. Her column runs every other Wednesday. You can follow Sony on Twitter @sony_rao.