Is technology ruining relationships? – Part II

By kate casler

To start off the relationship research, I figured I’ll stick with the most obvious way to meet people in college: class. I luckily have a recent example of this.

One day before class the guy sitting next to me, let’s call him Mr. Casual, starts up a conversation (making a comment on my beloved Star Wars mug). Class ends, we find out we live in the same area and walk back together. When we get back to our buildings, he asks for my number. I get a little excited, this guy is cute and I think this means he’s interested but I’m not sure yet.

The part after the number exchange is where technology complicates things. How long do you wait to text someone? (It has to be a text, as calling would be a total infraction of the technological dating world rules, apparently.) Is anybody really still doing the whole three-days-rule? Since I wasn’t the one with the number, I had to just wait. Not for long though, he texted me within a half hour of us parting. I decide to ignore the possible clinger red flag because I was actually happy he texted. We make plans to make quesadillas and watch “Parks and Rec” (an ideal date of mine), and continued to text.

Here’s the thing with texting before a first date: because you can pause the conversation when you are busy and come back later, the conversation doesn’t really have to stop. This allows for an entire first date’s worth of conversation to happen before you ever go out. You can get comfortable talking to a person and when the date comes, the person you’ve been texting almost feels like a different person than who you’re standing in front of. You still have to blow through the initial nervousness but without the easy get-to-know-you conversation topics. It didn’t take long for our date to shift towards a typical college date: the hook up.

There really isn’t such a thing as a “real date” in college. The whole dinner and a movie, being able to get all dressed up and excited just doesn’t happen. Due to this lack of a date structure, and the overall mindset of college students, things often quickly escalate to something physical. In my opinion, if you’re on an actual date there shouldn’t be much physicality going on throughout it. The first kiss at the end of the night is the best part. All that anticipation and tension is what makes it so great, if you do it half way through it spoils the fun. So when I hit the brakes on all that, it apparently threw him.

Afterwards he texted me to tell me he only wants something “casual”, nothing romantic. For me, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. The only options aren’t hook-ups or falling in love. Whatever happened to casual dating? Instead of trying to explain that, I simply let him know that I didn’t really want that but we could still hang out in class. I will let that story end there as I don’t understand the real ending of it myself, or if it even actually ended.

So what effect did technology have? It allowed for anything with Mr. Casual to happen because if we hadn’t exchanged numbers that first day, we probably wouldn’t have spoken again. However, it also allowed for confusion. The constant texting made feelings unclear and created a connection that only existed technologically. Talking about our “intentions” after the fact through texting allowed for us to both avoid the topic and then only have carefully crafted responses when we did address it. As “lucky college students” are we taking advantage of or missing out on potentially great dating lives? Technology allows for students to put themselves out there, but the interactions aren’t exactly filled with substance. But do we actually need to be looking for substance at this age? Or should we take dating less seriously? For now, I don’t really have an answer, but as I explore the rest of the dating areas we’ll see if I get anywhere near a conclusion.

Kate can be reached at [email protected]