If you only get one great love, New York may just be mine.
Just kidding, this isn’t Sex and the City.
Swarthmore is a great place, with many strengths. One of these is not, in my experience, being a healthy place for relationships. Maybe it’s because most of us were not Casanovas in high school. Maybe high IQs make internalization of social cues difficult. Maybe no one on this campus actually wants a relationship. Maybe none of these things are true, or maybe all of them are. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know one thing that can possibly help.
During my time on this campus and the years before it (as the Gazette and Phoenix archives tell me), there have been eight sex columns and not a single relationship column. Now don’t get me wrong, sex is great. Swarthmore works really hard to make sex as safe and de-stigmatized as possible. And that’s awesome. But it often seems that there are only two options here: hook-ups and “Swat Marriages.” Those of us who are searching for something in between are often left in the lurch. At Swarthmore, “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” only seem to come out in the most advanced circumstances.
While most people I talk to have no fear of sex, they are often paralyzed by the steps leading up to it. How to approach someone. How to do so without saying the most awkward thing that pops into their head. How to ask someone out. What a date is. How to make one’s intentions clear. How to read other people’s intentions. These are the kinds of ideas that I would like to illuminate in this column. Ideally, this would lead Swarthmore students to better, fuller, romantic/sexual relationships. At the very least, I hope that it leads to Sharples fodder and those Gazette comments we all love or love to hate.
Why am I qualified to be your new Love Guru? Well, Mike Meyers was terrible at it, so it’s not like I have much competition. But honestly, I feel qualified because I have a lot of experience. Pick almost any scenario in the dating book, and I have probably gone through it. I have had an epic, long-term, long-distance relationship that I thought could end in marriage, and a brief, campus-bound relationship where we rarely did anything outside his room and almost never talked. I’ve had a three-month relationship in which we never kissed, and I’ve had one-night stands. The kind of acts of pure stupidity that you think only hapless characters in bad romantic comedies commit. So throw a question at me, Swarthmore. I challenge you.
I plan to fill this column with advice, opinion, conjecture, humor, and, yes, personal anecdotes. While I am comfortable with the community knowing my identity, and have no delusions that I’ll be completely anonymous, I chose to use a pseudonym for two reasons. The first is that I wouldn’t necessarily want this googleable for future employers, but the second and more important is that it is my column, not that of anyone I have been involved with, and it would be unfair to mention any of them without protecting their identities. I promise that anyone mentioned will be under a consistent alias.
Now that all the logistics and ground rules are set up, I wanted to give you a little more information. But rather than writing a huge paragraph of “I” statements, I had a friend, stage name “Martha Jones,” interview me.
Martha Jones: Basic stats?
Serial Monogamist: Female. Appr. 18-22. Straight. Currently single.
MJ: What is the weirdest thing you have done in a dating situation?
SM: I once asked someone out because my horoscope told me to. It was very specific. And blunt. Something like “If you don’t ask out at least one person this month, you will have no one to blame but yourself when you die alone.” I thought that was a pretty big consequence, so I did. He said yes too, but I don’t think he thought it was a date.
MJ: Do you believe in love at first sight?
SM: Yes. Well, I don’t believe in West Side Story’s “Look across the room and instantly know that you would die for each other” kind, but both guys who I ultimately loved, when I met them I had this feeling that it was something. I know that’s not normal, but it happened both times for me, and never for anyone else.
MJ: A tangentially relationship-related fact about you:
SM: I sing in the car. I picked it up from one of my exes, Moose. He taught it to me as a trick to stay awake when driving tired, but it’s become pretty constant and unconscious now. It can be anything from “Free Falling” to “It Wasn’t Me” and I’ll probably be belting loudly and slightly off-key. Actually, if there’s someone else there and we’re not talking, I’m probably still singing, just quietly under my breath. And if traffic’s not moving, I’m probably dancing terribly in my seat too.
MJ: How bad does a guy’s dancing have to be before you would automatically draw the line?
SM: It’s not about dancing quality; it’s about unwillingness. A guy could be just awful, but if he has the guts to dance his heart out anyway, that’s awesome. If he’s standing against a wall, holding a solo cup and just swaying, or worse, glowering – that’s not cool.
MJ: Have you ever had a ‘song’ with someone?
SM: Oh god. Both people I have been in love with actually chose songs for us. Spencer picked “Let’s Stay Together”; Moose claimed “You’re the One for Me, Fatty,” and “Don’t You Want Me Baby.”
MJ: What pickup line would you use on someone? What pickup line would you want someone to use on you?
SM: I would use “Did you hear about Pluto? That’s messed up, right?” because it’s a player’s move.
MJ: [Laughing] I like that…
And I would want someone to say “Hey, I liked your point in Poli-Sci on the modern ramifications of the Second Amendment. We should talk about it over dinner.” Or, y’know, “Hi. Want to dance?” That’s nice too.
If you have any questions of your own, email the Serial Monogamist or comment below.