This column goes out to those lost lovers aged 22-24. It may be a window of only a few years, but they are extremely difficult to get through dating-wise. At least I'm finding it so, and I would hate to think I'm the only one who is being mauled by post-college dating life. It turns out that up to this point, I have been completely misinformed as to what it really means to date. I did it wrong through high school and college, and now suddenly I am thrust into the real world and just can't cope.
In high school my friends grew up "going out" with each other. Except this never entailed actually "going" anywhere. I would tell my mom I was going out with a boy and she would ask "where?" I explained that going out meant I would just be tying up the phone lines for hours on end talking to him. And of course, there were the parts Mom didn't know: I would kiss him goodbye at the busses as we left school, and hold hands in the hallway; on the weekends, the only place I "went" was to his house to make out while watching bad movies from Blockbuster.
Then I went to college where "going out" turned into "dating", but much like "going out" didn't mean going anywhere, "dating" didn't really mean having dates. In four years not once did I date more than one guy at a time. I can also speak of only a handful of boyfriends. This is because "dating" meant one of two things. In one sense it began by hooking up with a guy at a party. This was very casual and usually involved alcohol (personally, not my style). In the second sense, dating meant you hung out with friends until the two of you felt some attraction and then bada-bing-bada-boom you were a couple now sleeping together--exclusively. So your options were either "hooking up" or involved seriously.
The concept of dating more than one person was considered cheating. Those boys were thought of as players, and while they may have just been trying to date in what we now consider the real sense of the word, they didn't execute it well. So, Ben Stouffer, I am here to tell you that pretending to be exclusive with me and then hooking up with that Alpha Phi chick two nights later does not constitute acceptable dating practices even in the real world. I do understand why you did it . . . but you just don't get to have your cake and eat it too. You deserved the blacklisting
Finally, we graduated. We were ready for the real world academically and professionally--but not socially. The rules changed. We can't expect that just because someone takes us out a couple of times, it automatically means we are going to be the only one sharing his bed for the next few months. We can't bring the old rules with us. If we do, we are doomed to heart break and confusion. (Not, unfortunately, that we can avoid this by accepting the new rules . . . Just read the rest of this site!)
Maybe we are all supposed to become "players." I dunno. I don't have the answers to figure out these new rules. Does anyone? (Except my mother!) The only rule which seems to apply in every situation is communication. If you're dating around, you have to be honest about it. Let the other person know what you are looking for. They can't blame you for that.