Photo by Morgan Fries

Inside LC’s unique dating scene

By Mackenzie Bath

Twelve-year-old me probably would have thought that 20 year-old me would have a partner at this age, but she didn’t know the reality of what college dating was going to entail. Some people started “dating” as early as middle school, and some have never had that experience. In college, the freedom we have as students would appear to lend itself to more easily having relationships. We have no curfew, easy access to new activities and a room our parents don’t live near. But what is the dating scene at Lewis & Clark really like? From what I’ve seen, it’s been thrown out in favor of the dichotomy of hookups and relationships.

What is dating? My definition is simple: You ask someone out, you go on a date and you see if you have any chemistry. If all goes well, you go out again. It seems to be the most logical way to find someone to be a potential partner. You’re on the same page about what might happen, no one gets hurt if it doesn’t lead anywhere and you can try again with a new person soon. In a small college full of young adults, it would seem that actual dating would be a common occurrence. Yet, at LC this concept is somewhat a thing of the past.

At LC, casual dates are few and far between. What I see much more often is the hookup:  students will get together at some event. This is casual, fun and devoid of feelings. But is this really what people want? I believe that this can be a defense mechanism to avoid getting too close to people. Our emotions are scary, and we don’t want to give someone else that kind of power over us. This is something that has been pointed out about our generation, but seems to be even more prominent on our campus.

Yet there is also a trend of serious relationships at LC. From what I’ve seen, these don’t come out of hookups or going on dates. People “hang out” until it’s revealed that one or both parties have feelings for the other. This can lead to two things: a relationship or an awkward parting of ways. At LC, people often go straight from friends to exclusive relationship. A lot of couples do this successfully and you’ll see them happily walking around campus together, hand in hand. In fact, you will rarely see them apart.

Relationships are long-lasting at LC for a variety of reasons. It could be that on a small campus, people feel pressured to establish a relationship and maintain it, afraid that they won’t be able to find someone else to date. It could also be that we happen to be a great place for fostering healthy, supportive relationships. Most couples I know are happy, and a lot of single people I know would like to be part of a couple. So why can’t we figure out how to date?

Dating is an in-between stage where people get to try things out and see who and what they like. In this modern age, where often caring can be seen as a sign of weakness, people don’t open themselves up enough to just go for it; no one wants to go on a date if it isn’t leading somewhere. While the long-term relationship scene at LC is thriving, the dating scene is practically nonexistent. Fear of rejection, humiliation or loss of friendship can be daunting obstacles to dating, but most of those things are only in the head of the worried student. Especially because LC is so small, the prospect of awkward encounters after a rejection are extremely high. These struggles presented by going to LC only add to the hardships of dating that most millennials are facing.

The world isn’t split up into people in relationships and those who just have hookups, but our campus seems to be divided this way. It’s either be single or get committed. People are so afraid of the possible negative outcomes that our campus is deprived of actual dating.

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