The worst way to waste money is on bad food.
Too often, I’ve looked back at a late-night DoorDash with nothing but disappointment. By the time it gets to you, your food is cold, and they’ve probably messed up some aspect of your order. All your friends were going in on it, so you think, “eh, why not,” but instead of tiny tacos, Jack-in-the-Box has yet again given you the completely wrong order, and no amount of uber cash makes up for the heartbreak.
Often, hookup culture in college can feel just like a cold Jack-in-the-Box curly fry I never wanted in the first place.
Everyone else is doing it, so I think, “eh, might as well,” but I find myself with embarrassing stories and awkward run-ins on the street instead of feminist fulfillment.
I’ve always been a flirt. In high school, I was literally voted “biggest flirt” despite having a long-term boyfriend. I thought hookup culture would be right up my alley. You get the exhilaration of the chase, the “will they won’t they” and the anticipation of that first kiss with no commitment. I thought being single in college would be like all the best parts of having a crush.
Instead, hookup culture has shown me that anticipation is usually 10 times better than the actual outcome. Pining over someone only puts them on a pedestal from which they are bound to disappoint you.
There’s a certain beauty in sitting on Sproul as a “friend” feeds you part of their meal because you don’t know how to use chopsticks. What you once considered a completely platonic pal is now a story you have to tell all your friends about as you gush over the sexual tension you two shared. It’s these moments that are so fun. Flirting and being just a little unsure if your feelings are reciprocated.
But as the sexual tension progresses past food fetishes and ventures to closed doors and drunken make-outs, uncertainty can get old. I’m all for an air of mystery and good banter, but wondering if the guy you sometimes hook up with even finds you attractive is just weird. God forbid I ask how he feels about me, god forbid he gives me absolutely any indication of how he feels, and so what once was exhilarating has become stale and quite honestly annoying.
This “will they won’t they” is all fun and games until you have, and then three weeks later, they suddenly get a girlfriend. But with your only options being confused, officially dating or celibate, hookup culture persists despite its many flaws.
No labels means no clarity, and for an accidental serial monogamist, no clarity kinda sucks. I know I don’t want a boyfriend because everyone tells me I shouldn’t. Or I at least don’t want a boyfriend in the unhealthy ways I’ve had one in the past. However, I am not a reserved person. I feel deeply and freely and often end up really hurt because of this. I’ve been know to make someone my whole world, and realistically, college guys are not about to reciprocate the same.
I don’t want to engulf myself in someone else. I don’t want to wait around for a text asking me to finally come over at 11 p.m. when they’ve finished their seemingly never-ending work. I don’t want to beg someone to make me feel loved, and I’m convinced that anything serious will turn sour with expectations.
In the past few months, I’ve felt less like myself than ever before. It feels like part of me is missing, but I don’t want to just fill that void. I’m different than that needy girlfriend I once was, and I like that. I like not needing to text someone every second of the day, I like not panicking when they don’t say goodnight last and I like being more chill. I’ve been told it’s easier to make something new than to fix what is broken, but does my newfound liberation just make me a part of the problem if I’m not really ready for anything new?
As honest as I can be about my intentions, I know that with contradictory words and actions, I have become confusing. Calling something casual doesn’t actually make it casual. Holding hands and borrowing sweatshirts is not casual. Birthday gifts and invitations to date parties are not casual.
But right now, “casual” works for me. Sure, sometimes I find myself over analyzing the amount of time it takes someone to text me back or get a little giddy when I hear secondhand how “down bad” they are for me, but a label would ruin my newfound chill girl attitude.
So are my friends right? Are friends with benefits just “where we are practically dating but don’t say we are, and then it hurts in the end?” And if so, do I just accept being another heartbreaker in the college community to ignore and avoid being heartbroken myself?