Overcoming the sketch factor at Yale

With Winter Ball approaching, it’s time to re-evaluate dating at Yale. In reading last semester’s Yale Daily News columns concerning the subject, we were taken aback by the oversimplification of the problem.

Mere calls for more aggressive pursuits from either sex will not solve the fundamental difficulties. Imagine you’re sitting with friends at dinner, discussing the events of the previous weekend. The girls complain that none of the guys they really like approach them. The guys’ rebuttal: why does the guy have to be the initiator? Both sides, although at odds, share the same problem: the conundrum that is dating at Yale.

A week later you’re at a party. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a girl you’ve noticed before. You decide maybe it’s time you worked up your courage. “Just go for it,” you tell yourself. But wait! That little voice in the back of your head gives you pause.

You recall your female friend saying “remember that sketchy guy that came up to me at a party?”

A minute before this thought enters your head, you overhear the girls next to you dismissing the efforts of a guy that had just approached the girl you’ve noticed. Although you were probably driven to approach the girl for a simple, unassuming reason, the fear of being “that sketchy guy” makes you think twice about your plans.

Scenarios like this one suggest that the problem of dating at Yale is not that people aren’t approaching members of the other sex. Rather, we are deterred from approaching each other by the risk of acquiring the “sketch” stigma. The next time you and your friends see a “sketchy” individual at a party, you all look over at the person and laugh it up a bit. Harmless fun.

But let’s dig a little deeper. Consider your French Lit. class. See that girl sitting across from you in section? Yes, that one over there. You go up to her. You try your luck. But for some reason, you come up short. Why?

We all know why. Because you weren’t the guy she has been waiting all semester to talk to.

So, in an attempt to let you down easy, she explains that she has a lot of work this week. Or she may say yes. She thinks, “Why not. I’ll give him a chance.” You may win her over, but the power of your efforts will be mitigated substantially by her continuing thoughts about that other guy who has yet to make a move.

Now, that’s fair. Everyone has his eye on someone. But this highlights one of the problems with the current discourse concerning dating at Yale.

Over dinner, we often hear our female friends complaining that guys never come up to them. But what they really want to say is “Why hasn’t the guy I like come up to me?” It is time that we confront the truth behind our statements about dating.

We all have specific people that we like, and those are the people we want to come up to us. Now, to be fair, everyone likes to be approached, but at the same time, we often consider those who approach us sketchy.

We say to ourselves, “He doesn’t know me–who is this guy and why is he coming up to me?” Perhaps a few months down the line, these individuals gain stalker status, although they have probably done nothing to merit the title.

We tip our hats to the girls that find the strength to approach guys they like. We also have volumes of respect for those who realize there are more important dating issues than if one should “venture below the belt” or “spit or swallow.”

Despite the constant fear of being labeled a “skank,” they take a chance. Other than the obvious fear of rejection, girls face the same problems guys do. The male fear of the “sketch” factor, the female fear of the “skank” factor.

Whether or not you agree with us, it seems that we all have something to gain by opening up an honest discourse for grappling with the problems we face. It is crucial that we all admit that the problems are not as simple as they have been cast: namely, that we aren’t approaching each other.

It’s not the guys’ fault, and it’s not the girls’ fault. Let’s stop the “post-come up to” name-calling on both sides. Moreover, we must respect the well-meaning efforts of others who choose to take the chance on us that we all want people to take.

After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. In the words of David Gray, “If you want it/come and get it/for crying out loud!”



Jeff Goldberg and Steve Mitchell are sophomores in Davenport College.

Comments