We ran into each other by the stone bench outside Lerner Hall, one of us on our way to the NSOP comedy power-hour, the other sucked into conversation with a few new friends. Having met briefly the night before on a Carman floor lounge, we were both excited to see a familiar face. We spent the evening getting to know one another, romping around campus, and flirting a little bit. Expectations were a consistent theme in our conversation. Who did we expect to meet in college? How could we make our experiences exceed the high school expectations we had each carried with us to New York City?
We went to our respective dorms that night both feeling we had met someone truly special—special and dateable. We met for lunch the next day, and for coffee the day after that. Homework sessions quickly turned into joint adventures to remote corners of campus, and we spent full days talking about our families near the statue of Pan on Lewisohn Lawn.
We latched onto one another early in our first year, aware of how important we were to one another both because and in spite of the unfamiliar landscape of Columbia. However, we had both been taught that college is a time for experimentation: new fields of study, new clubs, new friends, and most importantly, new, and numerous, hookups.
Now approaching junior year, we’re still together and neither of us have experienced hookup culture. A lot of people, parents and close friends included, questioned this choice to almost immediately enter a relationship during our first years. Weren’t we too young and impressionable to make a long-term decision so early on in our college experience? Wasn’t this the time to keep our horizons broad and our options open? Hooking up is known to be one of the many freedoms of college, a right of passage during a person’s journey to romantic and sexual independence, that even our sex-conservative parents were shocked and concerned by our enthusiasm for a committed relationship. Few people close to us stopped to consider that perhaps choosing to be vulnerable and open with a partner we actively enjoyed spending time with was the most liberating choice we could have made.
There is something to be said for the freedom that comes from liking someone a lot, telling them you like them a lot, and sharing in the joy of each other’s company without fear that you’re appearing desperate or over-eager.
In an environment so thoroughly entrenched in hookup culture, romantic interactions are often based on the prioritization of convenience and the absence of commitment. Such an environment can contribute to a social dynamic that discourages intensity; people may be afraid to commit too much to one relationship when there are so many other options available, whether at a frat party or at the swipe of a finger. We strongly believe that Columbia’s social norms should not discourage you from acting on strong feelings, romantic or otherwise. If you really like someone, tell them, or ask them out! If you want to be someone’s best friend, let them know where you stand! There are many wonderful things to gain from commitment to relationships, so don’t be afraid to try it out, even if it’s only your first week on campus.
We did, and we couldn’t be happier.
Jared is a junior in Columbia College studying Physics. He’s also a SEAS student in spirit and professional dog walker. Maddie is a junior in Columbia College studying English. You can find her reading books that aren’t her homework and online as @maddiewoda.