Desiring old-school romance in the hookup culture

I like to consider myself someone who is genuinely happy.

I have a caring family, lots of true friends, and the privilege to attend a four-year college in St. Michael’s, all
of which have helped shape me as a charismatic and enthusiastic individual who likes to make the most of life. But sometimes there are moments when I feel like I am missing something – I’m 22 years-old and have never had a girlfriend.

I’m happy to see my friends in healthy romantic relationships, but I am a bit jealous whenever they tell me they are going on a date to get dinner at a downtown restaurant. As the only one in the group to not have a partner, I have gotten used to being a third- and even a fifth-wheel.

The alternative to building healthy relationships for many students is to randomly hookup, but call me an “old- school romantic”; I feel like I’m in the wrong era with the morals I hold in terms of relationships.

For many, a good weekend night means you end up going home with someone to have sex — sex without connection, without love or knowledge about who the person is. It can set up a disturbing cycle that means if you de- velop feelings for someone you hooked up with, you may discover they were only in it for the sex and nothing else.

For me, a good night would be taking a woman out to dinner in Burlington to learn about her passions, interests, and what they see themselves doing in the future.

I believe the intimacy that is gained by listening to someone explain what fascinates them in life outweighs the intimacy of hooking up with someone you don’t know.

But because of the ambiguity of “relationships” connecting, hooking up in our generation, I’m not sure what we’re dealing with.

My friends have shown me that healthy relationships can form in different ways.

For example, a pair of my friends met early freshman year, went on a couple of dates, and have been happily dating ever since – recently celebrating their three-year anniversary.

Another instance showed me that persistence can pay off. At first, my female friend didn’t believe my male friend was interested in her for the right reasons. He persisted, even when she studied abroad, checking in with her a couple of times per week and sending her small gifts when one of her friends visited during spring-break.

In both cases, the romantic, old-fashioned approach worked.

I don’t believe hookup culture is the only reason why I haven’t been in a relationship, but I do believe it certainly has contributed to why I have had a hard time finding a partner. Expectations become cloudy and offering genuine love can be misconstrued. If someone is nice and wants to hang out with someone who they’re interested in without trying to have sex, they’re of- ten viewed as just a friend rather than a romantic partner.

Emotions and feelings require a great depth of understanding, and couples sometimes are not aware of the magnitude of their complexity. The strongest of relationships take time to develop, they do not happen overnight or even in a matter of days.

I consider myself an “old-school romantic” because I hate feeling like I need to use technology to grow closer with someone. In-person interactions hold much more of a significance than just reading words on a screen. I want to hear whomever I like speak, I want to see them. Sure, I realize that texting in moderation is important, especially when you want to let them know that you’re thinking of them every once in a while. But relying on social media too much makes it challenging to gain a genuine emotional and spiritual connection.

It really upsets me when I see people get hurt by the wrong types of relationships, such as relationships broken apart due to cheating. In a world that has become so polarized, there needs to be more true love.

I wish more people valued emo- tional and spiritual connections over the prospects of sex when it comes to dating.

At the end of the day, I want to continue being the genuinely happy person who I am but I want to share my happiness with someone.