Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Navigating romance as a cynic 

At Carleton, romance is everywhere. I mean literally everywhere. It’s in the smile of a cute stranger, it’s in the Friday Flowers. It’s in the subtle hints of a “friend”, it’s in the clubs you join hoping to get closer to that special someone. It’s in the Date Knights and the Midwinter balls, the parties you go to hoping to bump into your crush. It’s in sitting in the same study spot as that cute nerd from your bio class, it’s in putting in extra effort on your outfit when you think you might bump into them — and it’s in your disappointment when you don’t. It’s in the pukish red theme at Northfield Target where it looks like Santa threw up and a million other occasions Carleton comes up with to celebrate romance. But what happens when you don’t see romance? 

For as long as I can remember, I was opposed to romantic love. It didn’t make sense. I never experienced heartbreak. My parents have one of the healthiest marriages, and I rarely saw them fight growing up. The norm would be to want something like that. But the truth is, it had an opposite effect on me. Seeing both the happy and sad ends of relationships, I realized that the good parts were nice. But the bad parts? Oh boy. 

I’ve seen marriages fall apart, friends get cheated on, people cry over”‘the one” that they left behind. I have seen the what-if’s, the overthinking and insecurities over not being good enough. It just didn’t make sense to me.  Why did people still decide to stay, to keep trying, to still want to fall and be in love? I always thought that the only reason everyone wanted to be in love was because people couldn’t stand being alone.They wound up in long-term relationships where, at best, they compromised themselves, and at worst, were stuck with an abuser. I reconciled with the truth much later in life. By then, I had given up debating on how I think love doesn’t exist, because 

I realized that people are more in love with the idea of being in love than actually being in love. Maybe I’m not ready to embrace the uncertainty that comes with relationships. I don’t like relinquishing control, nor do I like the idea of someone having that much of an effect on my life. The only person allowed to screw my life up r is me. And I’m already doing a pretty good job at that. 

A simple cost benefit analysis told me that I would rather not have the good parts of the relationships if it meant there’s zero chances of me going through the bad parts. I didn’t have to be the Asian-kid-good-at-math (which I am, but that’s not the point) to figure out the calculation. 

I have stopped sharing my “controversial” — albeit correct — romantic opinions with people. I’ve been in intense debates with hopeless romantics since middle school, our romantic views clearly on the opposite ends of the spectrum. To “fit in,” I’ve tried watching romantic movies, listened to romantic songs, even had a phase in middle school where I just read young adult books, hoping to crack this puzzle. But deep down, I always knew that what I saw was a movie. Unlike reality, movies have elaborate plots and perfect scripts with touching quotes. There are professionals paid to make you feel all mushy. It didn’t change anything either. 

This lack of dating experience resulted in an embarrassingly bad ability of catching signals (he DEFINITELY asked me to go watch a movie as friends, they DEFINITELY got me flowers because they want to be my friend, etc.). Because honestly, I would do those things for a friend. And so should you. This idea of attaching romantic connotations to everything is unhealthy, and takes away the fundamental aspect of what it means to be a human. 

If you’re hoping to find the magic in romance, I sincerely hope you do. But I hope you also know that you won’t have to go so far. It’s right in you. It’s in your face when you smile broadly when the sun comes out, it’s when you allow yourself to enjoy the weekends even if you have a shit ton of work to do (No? Just me? Okay). It’s when you skip a few steps while listening to music on your way to Weitz, it’s when you have that extra piece of cake after you had a hard day. It’s when you have a mental breakdown with your friends when it’s past midnight at Anderson but no one’s done with their homework. It’s when you take care of a friend when they get super drunk (looking at you, Ruby). It’s when you allow yourself to sleep a few extra minutes (or hours), it’s when you sneak in that nap in the library. It’s in your kind smile to a stranger, and realizing that you are actually done with work for the week (could never be me), and when you put a little extra whipped cream in your coffee. 

So during this season of love, if you’re suffering from a lack of prospects, (which of course you are. You’re too good for everyone), just love yourself a little bit more. 

As for me? I take my coffee black. No whipped cream, please.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • S

    SethMar 11, 2023 at 10:23 pm

    Update us here if you ever fall in love!