24 October, 2002
The State of the Date
top ten things you need to know before you try too much in or expect too much from the heterosexual and largely nonexistent wildcat playing field
e m i l y   d r e w
I was born and raised in Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania, a farming community of 600 people, where everyone knew everyone else and everyone else's parents, birthdays, and life history. Dating for me wasn't really an option until I could drive and explore new communities where my cousins weren't the best looking guys around. I ended up dating an attractive and exciting teenage alcoholic who took me to fast-food restaraunts (until he lost his lisence for underage drinking) and who cheated on me four to six times on the very weekend that I came to visit Davidson College. This was sad, but it would be okay. I was going to Davidson College, and I would meet around 800 men my age whom I could date. I would date lots of them, I thought, and I would have fun.
I wasn't alone in my expectations. #1: Many first-years are very optimistic about their college dating life. Soon, though, they realize that Davidson might not be the place for healthy dating.
I guess my first-year optimism began to dwindle after two weeks on campus. My first date here almost stood me up because of a biology project that he had to complete. He thought better of it, though, and we went out on a Thursday night. I noticed right away that he seemed really nervous, and although a healthy bit of nervousness can be charming, I soon understood that he wasn't shaken up at all by good looks and charm. He was nervous because of his biology project, which was due the next day. The date was cut short, and he asked to go out again, but it just didn't seem worth it--especially when he noted that it would have to be three weeks later, when his classes cooled off.
I learned right away that #2: Sometimes, work at Davidson takes precedence over dating, and this lesson has been pounded into my head repeatedly. So far, I've been stood up five different times at Davidson by guys who asked me out. Of those five, four made the excuse that they had a test/paper/project. Incidentally, the fifth said he had to cash a check. The check excuse was not acceptable. #3: Work, though, is an acceptable and understandable excuse to stand someone up or turn someone down at Davidson.
Work can also be a good excuse to drink heavily, which can lead to hooking up with lots of different people. The frequency of drunken hook-ups does actually affect dating drastically. #4: For a lot of people, randomly hooking up takes away the incentive for dating. "Why bother paying for dinner if you can spend the money on alcohol, have fun with your friends, and end up in bed anyway?" said one Davidson student who, like all quoted here, shall remain nameless.
Surprisingly, though, some people I've talked to here say that hooking up gets old. "I really would like a relationship with someone that lasts more than one or two drunken nights," said one junior. The catch is this: #5: If you want to date someone here, you'd better be prepared for the long haul--or at least an illusion that you're in it for the long haul. Committed boyfriend/girlfriend relationships do exist here, even if in small numbers. There just isn't a lot of uncommitted dating. #6: Uncommited hooking up? Yes. Seriously committed dating with or without hooking up? Some. Uncommitted dating? No.
At Davidson, dating casually is tough--like hooking up or dating seriously--for several reasons. If something gets awkward or weird between you and anyone else here, #7: you get to see him or her, every day at least once. This is a small campus. Because it's small, people run into their friends' exes, too. #8: If you have moral qualms about dating friends' exes, your available-for-dating percentage of the opposite sex drops drastically, too.
The most common complaint I've heard here is that there's no one here. "I've looked around, and I just don't feel it with anyone," said a sophomore. By second semester especially, said another, "when the freshmen become old news, it isn't even fun to look because there aren't any new people to check out." The complaints are understandable, but really, if you're complaining, #9: there's still nothing you can do about not being in love. And you certainly can't will someone to reciprocate, even if you do fall in love.
It's a small school, but trust me, it's not as stifling as a town of 600 people. Whenever I go home, I'm reminded that no one here has a right to hate dating at Davidson. Last Christmas break, for example, I went home to Sandy Lake, and within a week, I had a date. At first, I was thinking, "Davidson is terrible. No one asks me out all semester, and I'm home for a week and on a date with a guy from a neighboring town." This criticism of Davidson continued until I realized my date couldn't read. Luckily, the menu had pictures. Call me stuck-up, but right then and there, I decided that my men would have to be literate in at least one language. I missed Davidson guys right away. Even if everything about Davidson dating seems bleak, at least here #10: you're almost 100% guarenteed to get someone literate.