Featured, Society & People

The Dating War of Attrition

This isn’t one of those pieces about how millennials prefer the hookup culture of casual sex and text-based relationships over the more traditional dating styles of our parents—we’ve all been beaten to death with those. I have no beef with that. Whether or not you choose to participate is your choice, no judgment. Rather, my beef is with the total sense of carelessness and indifference that has come to govern a good number of college relationships. The dating war of attrition is in full swing and apathy is the weapon of choice.

An unspoken Golden Rule governs relationships today: Whoever care the least wins. I’m not trying to sound cynical or bitter, but in my experience (and that of many of my friends), I find more often than not that I force myself to drop all expectations of decency when it comes to dating and instead adopt a laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing.

He didn’t text you back after you hooked up? Who cares, you were both drunk. You saw him leave the bar with another girl? Oh well, it’s not like you were exclusive. This is what I find my friends and I continually repeating to one another. We are forced to hide our inner disappointment under a veneer of apathy because after all: feelings are the enemy, right?

We wait 20 minutes to text back to give the impression we don’t give a fuck. We purposely avoid eye contact in Lower because that one time you made out didn’t really mean anything. If you show any sort of emotion or express anything other than total indifference toward someone you like and/or have hooked up with, you lose. Why are we okay with this?

The other day, one of my roommates cam home completely over the moon because a guy she likes walked her home from the bus stop and kissed her goodnight. He didn’t take her out to dinner or perform any especially gallant acts of chivalry except having the common courtesy to walk the 20 yards from the bus stop to the front door of the building— still, she was ecstatic. It’s gotten to the point where guys don’t even have to say, “I love you” to get a girl into bed anymore. Have our expectations really become so low that simply walking a girl home is considered a grand romantic gesture?

I don’t mean to pick on guys, because plenty of girls I know (and I have to admit I have been guilty of this at times too) play the apathy game. We flirt with other guys in full view of ones we like just to prove that we don’t care enough about him to actually show any interest. We wait inappropriately long amounts of time to respond to texts and send intentionally mixed signals. Guys shouldn’t be okay with this either.

When did it become taboo to actually tell someone you like them instead of just dancing around the subject and pretending you don’t care? When did we decide that it was best to push all feelings aside and act nonchalantly about everything? Who decided that caring about a relationship means you lose? I certainly wasn’t part of that decision and I do not support it.

Obviously not all relationships are like this and plenty of my friends—girls and guys alike—are in committed relationships or are brave enough to be open and honest about their feelings, but they are the minority. For a pretty big number of us apathy is the norm. Why do we continue to put up with this nonsense? Why don’t we demand more? Is it because we know on a sub-conscious level we won’t get it, or because maybe by not caring, we never risk being heartbroken? I honestly don’t know; leave your opinions in the comment section.

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