Column by Lasara Boles
Boles is a senior English major and can be reached at
Perfectly scripted romantic movies and novels would have us believe that love begins with a sacred first date, sealed with a magical kiss and the noble boy will always get the virtuous girl, just like he has for centuries. These stories feed our nonsensical desire to believe in “soul mates” and “love at first sight.” The sacredness of the first date is nonexistent because the first date itself is nonexistent
Real relationships are blurry, without clear beginnings and ends. Our fascination with adorably matched movie stars may be out of touch with reality, but this is why we love them.
Real life is a succession of interactions with pets, cars, family, nature, phones, etc., and isn’t interesting to anyone who isn’t us. Real-life dating is messy and unconventional, yet we crave love stories because they imply the possibility of order and a happy ending to our unpredictable, entropy-bound universe.
At their core, movies are advertisements with more extensive plots, designed to make us feel good enough that we want to watch the next one and bad enough to create dissatisfaction within us.
Dissatisfied citizens are an essential component in a consumerist nation. What we watch encourages us to believe if we didn’t get flowers on our anniversary, we must be unlovable because movies place value on the anniversary the first date creates. We are unable to reconcile what we see on screen and what we see in our relationships. This is a valuable myth to the makers of heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and sentimental cards. We pay for these manufactured sentiments because we agree to romanticize the first date.
So, where did the first date go? Old-fashioned courtships of earlier centuries followed a different path than they do on today’s college campuses. Parties, text messaging, Facebook-stalking, hook-ups and the occasional lasting relationship have replaced long, exclusive courtships and hand-holding.
We don’t need lengthy courtships anymore to discover what a potential mate believes or looks like in a bikini. We can see all that on Facebook. Just as the invention of the automobile created a space for courting boys and girls to be alone, social media allows us to connect to more people than ever before, substituting face-to-face interactions with cyber-connections and creating non-conventional
Can the “location” of a first date be in cyberspace at the corner of Facebook and Tumblr? Perhaps Hallmark could investigate the marketability of an “I knew it was love from the moment I saw your profile pic” greeting card. For better or worse, technology is changing the way we do everything, including dating.
Though I’m initially inclined to condemn fellow student’s dating behavior — shunning exclusive partners, doing whatever with whomever — I can’t honestly dismiss them as or virtue-less when they are upholding a version of the same anti-first-date attitude I have. In their own way, they’re screwing the system that dictates what a relationship must look like. More
power to them.
If 30 years after college, you are still going strong with your college sweetheart, it is more likely a product of compromise, respect for each other and shared values than a perfect first date. No one truly understands the sacredness of the first date until hindsight reveals a lasting relationship. By that time, the actual date of the first date is forgotten, making your love less like a movie and more real.