Romance serves purpose in college

In her final “Tough Love,” columnist Dana Ricci reflects on the validity and possibility of college relationships, and says “goodbye” to her readers. In many relationships, there comes a time to say goodbye. There comes

Dana RicciIn her final “Tough Love,” columnist Dana Ricci reflects on the validity and possibility of college relationships, and says “goodbye” to her readers.

In many relationships, there comes a time to say goodbye. There comes a time to put things to rest before they turn too sour and both parties can still go their separate ways, dignities intact.

For you and I, that time has come. But before I ride off into the metaphorical sunset, forgive me for indulging in one last story and one last musing.

For a few weeks, my friend had been seeing this guy and things seemed to be headed in the right direction. Until she found out, to her dismay, that he had been seeing two other girls. Then came that uncomfortable conversation starting with “well, what are we?” and the word “exclusivity” started getting thrown around and things tumbled down from there.

“You know, no one in college wants to be in a relationship,” he told her. Calling malarkey on him, my friend began rattling off a list of people who she knows for sure want to be in a relationship. The two now remain friends and nothing more.

Oh dear, if no one in college wants to be in a relationship, then what have I been doing all semester long as Lord of the Relationship Column?

Well, the guy had a point. The notion of the college relationship, its seriousness or lack thereof and even its existence is something that I’ve thought of often while wandering through it this semester. It’s a fairly well-known fact that many people in “college world” engage in the alternatives to relationships. There’s casual dating, hooking up, booty calls and the like– seemingly no-strings-attached tactics to stay single(ish) and still be with someone in some way. I guess that’s really what all of these things boil down to, finding the middle ground between having a relationship and being completely alone.

But this doesn’t go for everybody. Plenty of people maintain fairly serious relationships in college. Heck, people end up marrying their college sweethearts sometimes. However, I think there’s a case to be made of the point that with only four years here, why get too goo-goo-eyed attached to someone? And more daunting still, my brain in graduating-senior-mode asks, what happens after college? With futures to plan and loans to start paying, how many of those couples holding hands as they saunter down Liacouras Walk are going to keep it going post-diploma season?

Or, for the more casual ones, did anything good actually come out of the handful of dates with that guy, the one-night stand with so-and-so or the drinking-and-cuddle-buddy thing you had going on with that girl in bio lab?

So when it’s not just sex, what’s the point of all this?

I’ve spent the majority of the past three-and-a-half years of college in a monogamous relationship of sorts–though with different people at different times. Although I’m uncertain of whether or not I’ll regret this when I’m on the other side of the graduation finish line in May, if I’ve learned anything it’s this: There is a point. There’s a point to the world of perplexity we enter when we blur the lines between single and not single with people. There’s a point to all the stupid arguments we get into with our significant others. There’s a point to getting your heart ripped out of your chest and smashed into a billion pieces while you miserably watch it happen.

It’s with these experiences, dear readers, that we learn who we are, what we want, and how to treat people in these sorts of situations. Essentially, we get better at it with experience. Congratulations everyone, you have all been force-enrolled in a sex-and-dating training camp.

And with only one semester left here at camp, it is time for me to say goodbye to “Tough Love.” The world of dating can be as fun as it is headache inducing, whether you’re looking for a relationship or you’re steering clear of the commitment zone. However my headache right now is different. It involves shedding my college security blanket and seeing what comes next. I’m sure many of you may know this headache and hate it, too. I’ve been pulling memories from my past dating successes and failures to offer advice in certain situations. And while I’ve had a whole lot of fun doing it, I know that my memory won’t serve you or I much longer.

If I’ve done one thing I hope I’ve hammered it into some brains that happiness comes first. That’s why we do this–seriously date, casually hook up, find people to buy us dinner every weekend–because it makes us happy (and not hungry in the case of the latter). So folks, please remember that if your love-, sex- or dating-induced headache becomes too debilitating, it is likely time to rid yourself of the source, even if that seems impossible.

So whether you’re part of the “no one in college wants to be in a relationship” crowd or not, remember not to lose sight of what makes you happy, and what you’re absolutely not willing to deal with, and stick to it. We’re all learning here and we all deserve at least that.

And go easy on the dinner-buyers.

Dana Ricci can be reached at

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