July 5, 2020

Rules of Dating: Essential Or Irrelevant?

posted on: Thursday September 16, 2010

by Allison Pelle ’11 / Commentary Staff

I want to know what happened to the rules. I’m not talking about that idiotic book brilliantly called “The Rules,” which 30 something single women believe to be the Holy Grail of dating. The Rules are stupid. Upon browsing their idiotic Web site late one night, I found that just a one hour phone consulation about your relationship problems to one of the “writers” of the book can set you back 350 dollars. Are you kidding? I’d rather sit down with my mom and a couple of glasses of wine, throw in a piece of cheesecake, and have her tell me what I’m doing wrong. The problem is that at one time not so long ago, there were rules. They were common sense rules. It goes a little something like this: one guy, one girl. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Everyone plays by the rules and nobody gets hurt. I can’t say exactly when those rules left the building, but it wasn’t too long ago. Ever since traditional monogamous relationships took their indefinite leave of absence, the world has been left with a new, confusing, ramshackle set of rules. I hate the term “hook-up culture,” but I’m going to use it anyway. So, for lack of a better term, we are part of a hook-up culture. A very big part of me is a fan of this. I think that men as well as women should be able to enjoy a physical or casual relationship with someone for as long or as short of a time as they please. I think it’s liberating, especially for women. Another part of me finds it disturbing. In college, I’ve experienced and witnessed countless relationships harmed, friendships lost, and feelings hurt as a result of these label-less, string-less relationships. The lack of boundaries sets us up for paranoia, self-doubt, and exhausting our friends by constantly sharing obsessive thoughts about the other person. I think that having random hook-ups is sometimes an important part of growing up. It teaches us who we are, who we really want to be with, and not to be so reckless with our hearts or anyone else’s. But sometimes, I don’t believe in monogamy. I read somewhere that when the institution of marriage was created, people only lived until about age 30. And when I say, “read,” I mean I saw it in a movie. This may or may not be a reliable source or a good movie, but that fact makes a whole lot of sense to me. The idea of committing yourself to one person for the rest of your life seems absurd, even unnatural. People have needs, you know? Recently, my mom and I were talking about the future and she told me something that I think I’m going to remember for a long time. She said, “When you marry someone, ask yourself ‘is this person going to wake up every morning and say to themselves ‘what can I do to make my wife happy today?'” I said to her, “Does anyone think like that anymore?” Maybe I’m a cynic. Maybe this war trail of sad excuses for relationships I’ve had have hardened me. We try so hard, too hard, to establish deep and meaningful connections with anyone who will have us. We blindly engage in loosely defined relationships hoping they might come to fruition as the monogamous, fulfilling unions we all ultimately want. Deep inside of my heartless chest and blackened soul is a little 1950s housewife. She’s there. She only peeks out once in a while, when I’m in the grocery store or flipping through a catalog. That woman inside feels she belongs in the kitchen. She wants to look pretty every day, cook her family breakfast, pack her kid’s lunches, and have dinner on the stove when her husband returns home from work. She wants to create a beautiful home for her family and raise her kids. The 21-year-old sitting here sees so much respect and admiration for that woman. Being brought up in a nonsense culture where all the rules are blurred has left me clammoring for any real example of what a solid relationship actually looks like. I’ve been in relationships where I’ve cheated and he’s forgiven me. If we’re not together, but he hooks up with someone else, can my feelings be hurt? Is it okay if I do it too? Do I have to tell him I hooked up with someone else? What if he texts me tomorrow? What does he mean when he says this? What we have here is a muddled set of relationships where we go about hurting one another but can justify it with any series of excuses. “I was drunk.” “It didn’t mean anything.” “We’re just friends.” “We’re not together.” “I just won’t tell him.” I think deep down we all strive to meet the one person we’re meant to be with. We want the moment where we just know; when we can stop searching and hooking up and messing around. We want to find the person with whom we can make dinner and make fun of shows on tv and go to bed. We all pretend to love the freedom and excitement and sense of badass-ness that random hook-ups give us. But we know that being with just one person, openly, honestly, and wholeheartedly, is so much better than all of that.

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