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Avoiding the social chill

It’s 11 p.m. It’s freezing. It’s absolutely freezing. We all have a point where we draw the line between going out and staying in. Unlike the Fall Term, another variable must be added to our equation of socialization: the cold. Before crossing campus to find a party or deciding to go to the library for the faint chance of running into your crush, you now have to contemplate whether you want to wrap yourself in half of your closet before heading outside. It was already hard enough to find ourselves in a room with someone that we found attractive — let alone, being in that same room and talking to them! Now we have to worry about polar vortexes and the abominable snowman attacking – okay, maybe not the second part. 

But let’s be honest, Minnesota winters are detrimental to our social lives. Meeting someone is all about chance. The chance that you run into someone. The chance that you end up finding the courage to talk to them. The chance that they end up wanting to talk to you. And the chance that you actually get along with them. Increasing our chances of meeting someone is the goal. Winter limits our chances by lowering the amount of people that go to parties and by giving us less motivation to go out. Unless we want our love lives to freeze over for the next three months, we need to change how we approach meeting people. 

How can you meet someone without going outside? The most controversial, yet easiest, way is through dating apps. Of course, there is a negative connotation around apps like Tinder or Hinge. They are known for being built off of hook-ups, not relationships. But we miscategorize this notion as the sole reason for our pessimistic view of dating apps. We were taught that to find love, relationships need to be formed naturally, not artificially. We want this grandiose moment where we lock eyes with another person across a crowded room, not a match notification on our phone. To make matters worse, sex and romance are taboo topics in our society; we shy away from talking about them and owning up to the fact that they are an integral part of our lives. Dating apps, on the other hand, are direct. They admit the truth: we want something that we don’t have. A hook-up, a relationship or simply someone to connect with. 

But what’s so wrong with admitting that we want those things? We do the same thing when we go to parties, just not outwardly. We want to escape, spend time with friends and probably find an excuse to talk to that person that we keep staring at for too long in LDC. Apps do the same thing, and they do it more efficiently. Unlike a party, where we spend half the time figuring out if a person likes us back, dating apps stamp our intentions on our forehead. There is no reading body language, and there is no questioning whether they are looking at you or through you. It is clear: they either find you attractive and want to get to know you or they don’t. We have to worry about classes, extracurriculars, the abominable snowman attacking and every other problem that life throws our way – we could use a little more directness in our lives. 

Ultimately, the progression of a relationship is no different whether it stems from an app or real life. All relationships begin the same way: you meet them, you hang out, you hook up and maybe go on a few dates before someone pops the question of becoming more serious with one another. The same thing happens on apps, only there is no facade or lingo that you have to break down and interpret. Our view that dating apps are a poor way of meeting someone is an incorrect understanding of how we build relationships today. By removing the negative connotation of dating apps, you realize that you could increase your chances of meeting someone while being cozy under your comforter. 

So maybe dating apps aren’t for you. The old-fashioned way, a.k.a. meeting someone in person, is still a viable option. There are a myriad of avenues to take. Kill two birds with one stone by joining clubs and activities around campus. Maybe don’t join the paper though – I haven’t met anyone yet. In the same vein, actually talk to your classmates. Too many times, we try to wait for the “right time” to talk to someone. That’s overrated. You are both in the same classroom and less than thirty feet away from each other. I would call that the right moment.

In both situations, you are given an instant starting point. By having something in common, there’s no awkward hello and there’s an instant connection that you can build upon. You are there to enjoy the same activity or to suffer in the same boring class. Both joy and suffering can be shared! Don’t just take my recommendation; studies show that we are attracted to people who are similar to us. It would be unjust if you wasted this opportunity. So, be more direct in your actions. If you are given the chance to start a somewhat natural and non-awkward conversation, then do it! Go up and say something; say anything. It only takes five seconds of bravery to start an hour-long conversation. 

Last, but not least, use the winter to your advantage. Go ice skating. Join a broomball team. Go into town and get a hot chocolate from one of the local coffee shops – Little Joy is the best. Just be places where you can interact with people, because you never know where you may be able to start a natural conversation with a stranger. Winter is dreadful when you are stuck inside and counting down the days until Spring Break. Put yourself out there, on dating apps or in real life, to find someone who can make your winter a little warmer. 

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