old people on Tinder
Bring back romance. Image: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum
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Bring back courting and going steady! Maybe dowries, too, while we’re at it

It has recently been brought to my attention that I’m a serial friendzoner — a phenomenon to which I was previously none the wiser. 

Not too long ago, on a Thursday like any other, my friends and I prepared for the long-awaited weekend ahead of us.  Efficient and goal-oriented when it comes to maximizing our fun, we meticulously determined our ambitions for the nights to follow. While some got volun-told to dance on a table, I was told by my friends to not friend-zone every guy I meet. Though I wasn’t quite aware that this is what I was doing, I admit that I tend to be rather fast and loose with the word “bestie” — I can see how that might be a slippery slope.

The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one.

Well, I’m not at that first step yet. I have yet to accept that, in my current predicament, it is me that has the problem — and I don’t plan to. This problem is larger than me and the fault of the cruel death of romance as we once knew it.

Can anyone really blame me for being oblivious? Did I miss some memo? How am I meant to know if someone is just being nice or flirting? Too often, I’m wondering if a boy genuinely just wants to hang out or if I should be preparing for a date. I could kiss someone right on the mouth and be none the wiser — true story.

It seems I have a subconscious mandate: platonic till proven romantic.

The casual dating scene of university is a breeding ground for miscommunication, for those like myself. It is also just draining. Frankly, I refuse to participate in a talking stage ever again. As an awful texter who can barely even text her friends, mom, or roommates back for days at a time, I am not built for online love. It is truly futile.

As such, I propose a solution: bring back courting and going steady! Maybe we could bring back dowries, too, while we’re at it. I’m kidding — mostly. 

Perhaps we did away with the formal traditions surrounding dating too soon. In lieu of customs of giving flowers and romantic first dates, our generation boasts of Tinder (with which I am in an on-again-off-again relationship), hook-up culture, and unsolicited images rolling into our Snapchats in the wee hours of the night. Doesn’t it just warm your heart?

Part of my friend-zoning folly is that, in an ideal situation, I would like to be friends with someone before dating them. Or, to meet someone and just, all of a sudden, be encompassed with that feeling of knowing — the way they do in the movies. Not necessarily love at first sight — but like-like at first encounter.

At the risk of being called old-fashioned, I have to ask: is there anything wrong with that? I’m a product of my upbringing. As a connoisseur of romance movies, I can’t help but be loyal to the  “friends to lovers” trope. It’s fair to say that the love stories of the big screen have instilled some unrealistic expectations in me.

Surely, if I was among the Julia Robertses of the world, I would have been swept off my feet at least a few times by now. It’s not as if I expect a boy to stand outside my window with a stereo in hand like Lloyd Dobier in Say Anything, arrange a flash mob for me at an LRT stop like Dylan Harper did in Grand Central Station in Friends With Benefits, or send me 365 handwritten letters like Noah Calhoun in The Notebook — though I wouldn’t say no to that, either.  I would, however, prefer a bit more effort than a “wyd” text any day of the week. Take me out to dinner first.

Despite my innate hopeless romanticism, I contest any critique that my standards are too high. Though I couldn’t pinpoint my type, all I’m really looking for in someone is quite simple: someone funny, nice, and (sue me) taller than me. I know that having a height preference is often criticized as unfair. However, once again, I can’t be held accountable. That is on the patriarchy — not me. If the wage gap can still persist, so can height preferences. Even so, it does seem that the three are mutually exclusive. Unlike Pokémon, I cannot catch them all.  

I realize I sound just short of some old woman scorned by time and heartbreaks, but that’s really not the case. I’m not coming off a brutal heartbreak, jaded and worn down by failed relationships. Rather, my love life is the least interesting thing about me. Perhaps I am just too much of a “girlboss”, but I don’t know where people are finding the time to do the whole dating thing — I barely see my roommates Monday through Friday as it is.

Maybe it’s the sentiment of cuffing season in the autumnal air, maybe it’s Adele’s new post-divorce single, maybe it’s been one talking stage too many (or maybe it’s Maybelline), but I have recently just about given up on dating. I, and many others, are not compatible with it as it exists in the twenty-first century, especially as it exists in universities. 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. It can be tempting, especially during “cuffing season,” to jump into a relationship. Couples walking hand in hand on the streets, posting pictures in corn mazes and apple orchards — it’s hard not to be green with envy. The other day, I looked out the window, in the comfort of my own home, only to see a boy with his girlfriend on his back and an umbrella in hand, shielding her from the rain. It was so cavity-inducingly sweet that it was sickening — I almost had to call Crime Stoppers.

Personally, I hear the pitter patter of skateboards on campus square and I’m reminded of the last time I put in any real effort into a relationship. It was third grade, when I asked for a skateboard for my birthday so that my current skater boy crush could teach me how to skate at my birthday party. He did and thus cemented my skater boy fixation as a permanently embedded part of my psyche.

As someone who has almost only ever been single (the except being the one time I was a really good friend and pretended to be my closeted friend’s girlfriend in the eighth grade), I am quite happy on my own. Don’t fall for the hype — being happy by yourself is way better than being miserable with someone else. That’s why I’m in no rush. Plus, it’s midterm season. My only date is with the Zoom lectures I’m behind on. Unfortunately, I don’t think exams will take me out to dinner before I get screwed either.