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Will No One Defend Romance?

We live in curious times. Last week in The D, Campbell Haynes ‘14 responded to Susan Patton’s advice to Princeton undergraduates that they seek life-long love as students while they are surrounded by compatible peers:

Patton’s letter reveals more about the generation to which she belongs than the one to which she gave advice. Her letter implicitly privileges monogamy over hookups, dating over dance floor make-outs and finding a spouse over screwing around…

Women cannily use hookups as a delaying tactic, gaining a taste for real-world relationships while still prioritizing schoolwork and their friendships.

Patton misses the big picture: Princeton women do not suffer from a lack of options. They suffer from a lack of time. Increasingly, and thankfully, they are choosing to avoid romantic entanglement and instead maximize personal success.

Campbell’s view is hardly a new one. There have always been mercenary guys who “screw around” on their way to the big money. “Use ‘em and lose ‘em” is a pungent phrase from the past. As is “Find ‘em, f**k ‘em and forget ‘em.” Or the more recent “Bros before hoes.” A trophy wife is usually part of the plan.

However his opinion — Campbell is a he — is original in one respect. He imputes it to present-day women as well as to men. And I guess, from my own investigations, he is accurate in this opinion about some people. There probably are many Dartmouth women (and men) who will receive their diploma having had sex with 50 or more people over four years. A hookup every weekend or two adds up fast. Perhaps such behavior relaxed them, helped them get on with their studies, and allowed them to be accepted to a fine grad school.

And perhaps one day, too, they’ll shift gears and find the right person, to love and cherish ‘til death parts them. But out here in the real world, there are counter examples aplenty among men and women both: the accomplished, lonely people who stay alone, or finally settle for whomever comes along; the jaded and cynical folks who don’t give love half a chance before trying yet another relationship; the veterans of multiple divorces.

However today we need not think along those lines; let’s accentuate the positive. While literature does not yet celebrate the exaltations of drunken hookups, it has a thing or two to say about love. From E. M. Forster’s A Room With a View:

Room With a View.jpg

You see, there are more noble dreams in life than intoxicated grappling in a dirty basement and a job at an investment bank.

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