Discourse / September 3, 2009

So you’ve spotted a Knox Fox…love and lust on the prairie

You might have graduated high school, but your hormones haven’t. Dating and any facsimile thereof is a part of the standard college experience. As your Discourse advice dispenser for the time being, I hope that this brief introduction will help you navigate your personal prairie fire, and maybe even assist in forming a special bond with your own Knox fox.

One of the biggest differences between the romantic landscape of high school and that of college is the level of ambiguity that accompany romantic dalliances in college. Far less often is dating cut and dry, where one partner requests that the other partner become his or her significant other, and both parties become sexually exclusive to each other until one or both partners concretely decide to end the thing. Now, the parameters of dating can get much more fluid. The various permutations of dating that can occur are innumerable.

Dating a person might begin as a shared loathing of an FP reading, followed by a few Gizmo meetings that you call “dates” as a joke. As you explore each other’s iPods, things will slowly get a lot more tense, at which point you might lean in for a kiss, or, since social ineptness is the hallmark of any self-respecting Knox student, start giggling and pretend you think your phone is ringing until the moment passes. After weeks of similar incidents, your suitemates will probably become involved, working on strategies to Macgyver you two together that are intricate, complicated, and vastly unlikely. Eventually, you will admit your feelings for one another on your own, passionately embrace, and then start freaking out, because you both have major finals tomorrow.

There is one particular method of courtship that I feel merits special attention. Every guy I have ever seriously dated at Knox has wooed me by having me watch TV on DVD with him. Possibly this is because I personally have a taste for nerds (or as I’ve occasionally thought of it, my No Reading, No Robots, No Rachel policy), but I believe that the phenomenon extends far wider than my own, admittedly limited, experience. It’s very clever, really. Television shows on DVD are anywhere between 22 and 46 minutes long, and an entire series can take weeks to complete. If a person gets you hooked on a television show, you always have something easy to talk about, there’s always an excuse to ask you to come over, and, unlike a movie, as you’re watching the show on his or her laptop, there are conveniently spaced breaks during which any number of lewd things might occur. Just remember – a lady/gentleman never kisses until the third episode.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of romantic possibilities. Everybody you meet is new, interesting, and unaware of how you wet yourself on the 7th grade trip to the state capital. Your fellow freshmen are all eager to share their thoughts on this brave new collegiate world, and the upperclassmen seem so friendly and helpful. For most who are interested in partaking in sexual activities, it can be pretty simple. Since I am here to offer advice, however, I must warn you to approach the situation with caution, both physically and emotionally. From a purely health-conscious perspective, engaging with anybody else’s bodily fluids can lead to a whole slew of nasty diseases. You remember those slides from Sex Ed, don’t you? There are all sorts of services on campus that provide free condoms, including the condom hotline, the health center, and more than likely your RA, so there is no excuse for not using protection when you have any kind of sex.

Equally as important are the emotional ramifications of sex. It can be fun to have wild adventures that involve sharing a sexual experience with another person, and we like to think that we are immune to the effect those experiences have on our emotions. In reality, divorcing sex from emotions hardly ever goes smoothly. You might end up developing feelings for a sexual partner even though you never intended to, and it can hurt badly if those feelings are not reciprocated. Getting intimate can also make things extremely awkward between two people. Both parties getting caught up in sex too fast have ruined many budding friendships. Lastly, it is unwise to assume that the intentions of your partner match your own. Getting to know a person well enough to be familiar with their motives will go a long way in preventing any unnecessary pain. We’re not telling you to not have sex. You’re young, you’re in college, and you might never get your heart broken. But, while we are often made well aware of the effects that unprotected sex can have on our bodies, the effects that sex can have on our psychological well-being are often ignored.

I hope this primer has prepared you for the onslaught of sex and feelings you are about to encounter. Go forth with your new knowledge, freshmen. And good luck.

Rachel Perez


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