Date Phobia

I’m a romantic. I cry when I watch “Titanic,” I think it’s sweet when guys hold doors for me, and yes, chocolate is the key to my heart. Naturally, then, at this time of the year my thoughts always turn to the dating scene, or lack thereof, at Phillips Academy. It’s true, we do have many steady couples on campus. But they still comprise a relatively small portion of our student body, and the majority of us students are still single. Some might argue that our loneliness can be attributed to the restrictions and time demands of life at Andover, but while these stresses do play a role in the situation, the bigger culprit is our own timidity when it comes to romantic relationships. Is it that we don’t have the time to date here at Andover, or is it that we don’t have the courage? In an environment where so much is demanded of us on all levels, it is somewhat ironic that to many students, asking someone out for coffee is a more frightening prospect than applying to college, taking AP Calculus or speaking at All-School Meeting. But it’s true. Most of us students are single, and there’s a good reason—we’re too afraid of “looking stupid” when asking someone out. Sure, we can make as many excuses as we want for our romantic apathy. We’re busy. We’re putting academics first. We’re just not looking right now. It’s easier to just hook up with someone on a Saturday night. And for those of us for whom such reasons are the truth, there’s really no problem with owning up to them. But there is still a large chunk of the PA population that puts on a brave face every day and blurts out these excuses in an effort to look like finding love (or some semblance of it) just doesn’t matter to them. These assertions serve merely as defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from the pain and embarrassment of being rejected. If we want to reverse this trend of romantic isolationism at Andover, it’s a quick fix. We simply need to get the guts to start making our feelings known to those we care about. Experience is the greatest teacher of all, and the more we put ourselves out there on the romantic stage, the easier it will be for us to continue in this pattern of risk and (hopefully) rewards. I’ve already said that I’m a romantic, and now I must add that I’m an optimist, too. More steady couples seem to be springing up throughout the campus, and judging by the large turnout of couples at semi-formal dances and the ones I see in Starbucks on the weekends, I can’t help but think that as a community, we are getting more comfortable with being emotionally vulnerable. We’ve still got a long way to go, though, if we are to resurrect truly the great tradition of dating. Hopefully, however, as Valentine’s Day comes and goes this year, it can serve as an incentive for us to take a chance and make our feelings known to the people we care about. Otherwise, we’ll continue to spend our time alone in our rooms, watching “Say Anything” for the 10th time and wondering why no one is standing outside our windows, holding a boombox up for the world to hear.