Column by Lauren McElmeel
As children, most of our parents taught us a very strict, antiquated formula to finding a mate.
Through fairy tales, we learned that the proper way to begin a relationship in the medieval age was to wait around in a tower until a prince found time in his busy princely schedule to come rescue the damsel in distress.
Then, the two would ride back to his castle and get married that afternoon. Those were the rules for courtly love.
As princes, princesses and castles became less prevalent, the idea of “sparking” came along, and more rules were put in place. No buggy riding in the afternoon without an adult chaperone, no calling at his or her home after dinner, no public displays of affection — it was all very rigid and proper.
Even when our grandparents entered the dating realm, strict ideals and roles governed their interactions. Some of these 1950s rules persist in some ways today, despite the progress we have made in equalizing the genders — the man is usually expected to pay for the date, the man should pick up his date and meet the parents, the man should be the one to initiate the date.
The laundry list of rules the former generations foisted on us is endless.
In college, these rules disappear. And with it, it seems, the romance and structure of typical dating.
Our newfound freedom gives us many new opportunities, including choosing whom we would like to get to know better.
Our language of dating has changed as well. When we swap stories, we don’t say “going together” or “got pinned” anymore. We say “went out” or “hooked up.” With all our technology, a simple “heyyy” sent on Facebook or through a text message is all it might take to get a “relationship” going.
In our grandparents’ day, there was at least a pin, a class ring or a letter jacket involved.
Which begs the question: if there are no standards or guidelines for dating, how do you define a real relationship? What is the line between casual hookup and committed relationship in college?
Is it how many hours you spend with each other every week? The amount of things you have in common? How many times you forced your roommates to study at the library so you could have the room?
The “magical” formula we used to have with all our rules is gone in the college atmosphere, leading to unmitigated confusion among students and the objects of their affection. And making it very difficult for their roommates to get anything done if they, God forbid, forget their computer or backpack when their roommate needs the room.
McElmeel is a sophomore and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org