TAYLOR: Ditch your high school sweetheart

Okay, freshmen, listen up to the croaky old voice of reason: You need to break free of your long-distance relationship.

It’s been four weeks. You’re not using your map to get around campus anymore. By now, you know your way to every building except TD, which with luck you’ll discover sometime during your sophomore year. You’ve seen what this campus has to offer. I’m not saying it’s fantastic, but admit it — you dig a guy in a cable sweater.

Also, those ROTC guys! Holy cow!

But this isn’t about comparing options, or the crew cuts and biceps of boys who look deceptively old but are — please remind me — barely 19. I have no doubt as to the depth and authenticity of your high school relationship. I’m not trying to tell you you aren’t in love with her. I’m not even arguing that, if someone doesn’t put some sense into you, you won’t make this relationship last until your sophomore year. I’ve seen plenty drag on even longer.

This isn’t about you and Whatshername. It’s about you and Yale. This is about how you’re spending your evenings, your nights, your spare thoughts and moments — how, slowly and subtly and without your noticing it, your significant other is dulling your social impulse, making you complacent.

You should come to Yale starving — for friendship, for experience, for (ahem) stimulation. You should spend this semester glutting yourself on overcommitment — joining three bands, doing four shows, writing columns about topics you know nothing about. Your free time should be stretched between lunch dates and dinner dates and coffee dates, with late night roommate bonding and park bench conversations that defy convention and New Haven’s disgusting weather, with ill-advised public make outs, but not outside my entryway, please God, not there.

Your free time should not involve constant texting, two-hour Skype calls, or weekend trips to some inferior campus.

I’m not saying you should go for the 12-college challenge. I’m just saying that freshman year is your one and only shot to be a complete idiot and not regret it for the rest of your college career. There is nothing you can do, no commitment you can make (and break) and nowhere you can wake up for which you will be faulted a year from now.

Trust me: freshman year means no shame. To the contrary — you will cherish your poor choices. You will delight to see that hook-up — whom you will not acknowledge — eating in your dining hall. You will laugh to remember his horrendous misuse of tongue. Savor your misfortunes — the awful screw dates, the hapless hook-ups, the gay guys you’ll continue, hopelessly, to fall for. Learn from them. Grow from them.

Because (in all paltry seriousness) this is the time when you should be discovering yourself. There are sides of you that you didn’t know existed. There are things you love — people you could love — that you haven’t yet seen or heard or done. You need the freedom to grow out of the person you were when you entered this relationship.

Most of my friends regret staying with their high school sweethearts. They wasted time. Things grew sour. They lost potential friends. They lost a best friend.

You might be the exception. You might be the one person I know who is still with his high school girlfriend. You might have already met your soulmate. There’s a chance, even, that I am totally wrong, that this relationship is a good thing. Maybe you’re balancing this the right way. Maybe that person is just what you need right now. Maybe he’s not tying you down but pushing you forward.

Maybe, but probably not.

Consider, finally, serendipity — that amor omnia vinct, that love will guide you to the right person in the end, even if it’s back to where you started. Consider letting yourself go; consider giving yourself to Yale; consider making the very most of this place and the four fleeting years you have here.

Consider that you, and that cute girl from your econ section, will thank me later.

Michelle Taylor is a senior in Davenport College. Contact her at michelle.taylor@yale.edu.


  • eli2015

    >some inferior campus


  • River_Tam

    > There is nothing you can do, no commitment you can make (and break) and nowhere you can wake up for which you will be faulted a year from now.

    What a ridiculous thing to say. One of my friends got pregnant her freshman year of college (not Yale) and ended up getting an abortion. She used a condom, and it she only had sex twice with the guy. That stuck with her for way more than a year.

    I know one guy who got herpes her first week of Camp Yale. That stuck with him for a long time.

    One girl I know got doubleteamed by SigEp boys during her sophomore year. She was fine with it at the time (being schwasted will do that to you), but spent about a year talking it over with her therapist, trying to convince herself that she hadn’t been raped (or that she had, and it would be okay).

    Sex is intimate – sex leaves scars.

    • wtf

      You better call Kenny Loggins… because you’re in the rape culture.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “Sex is intimate – sex leaves scars.”

    **Sex USED to be intimate when it involved the sacred possibility of procreation.
    But for thirty years now, sex has been recreation.
    And besides which, we ALL know that in the heat of the moment (pardon the pun), MEN LIE, and WOMEN BELIEVE.
    That’s been a constant for three thousand years of literature. Liberation hasn’t changed that a jot.

    • basho

      let’s put the book down and think

    • River_Tam

      No, for thirty years we’ve been TOLD that sex is recreation, but when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really feel all that much like a game. Sex – even the most casual of sex – is still a hell of a lot more intimate than dinner and a movie.

  • The Anti-Yale

    **A HOOK-UP is intimate? Consult the Oracle-Wiki:**

    An intimate relationship is an interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy is characterized by romantic or passionate sex and attachment, or sexual activity. The term is also sometimes used euphemistically for a sexual relationship. Intimate relationships play a central role in the overall human experience.[1] Humans have a general desire to belong and to love which is usually satisfied within an intimate relationship.[2] Intimate relationships involve the physical and sexual attraction by one person to another, liking and loving, romantic feelings and sexual relationships, as well as the seeking of a mate and emotional and personal support of each other.[1] Intimate relationships provide a social network for people that provide strong emotional attachments, and fulfill our universal need of belonging and the need to be cared for.[1]

  • LtwLimulus90

    Awesome column

  • Branford73

    LIke PK I may be a hopeless fuddy-duddy to today’s undergraduates (even though I had, without controversy, a mixed-sex triple Branford room my senior year). I was stuck on my home-town honey all of freshman year and we didn’t break up until the summer following. I don’t regret that at all. We are still friends and kept up a bi-annual correspondence through multiple marriages and children on both sides.

    Often it is the growth of each person in the couple, in different directions, that spells the doom of a relationship. That can happen in long or short distance relationships. Or people can maintain them over time and distance. My closest h.s. friend went to Dartmouth (granted, before there were women there) and ended up marrying his home-town honey. They are still together thirty-plus years later and by my observation are well-suited for and happy with each other.

    Most home-town romances die of their own accord as each partner’s experiences and horizons expand. There’s no reason to push that to occur nor is the last year of such a relationship necessarily a waste.

  • yalereadertoday

    Pathetic Advice!: “trust me: freshman year means no shame”!

    Ha, wake up freshman! Hookups do create shame and lifelong scars. How sad that a senior is giving out this kind of advice. Don’t fall prey to their mistakes and those of the upperclassmen ready to prey on you! I do not disagree that you should use your very limited four years to explore what Yale has to offer, but do so and practice ways that will provide success outside of Yale. Even if your relationship doesn’t last, it could become a valuable lesson if you have to live apart from your spouse due to work commitments.

    Hook-ups equal personal failure in college and beyond. I can’t imagine that a hook-up at Yale is more meaningful than high school sweetheart love. Hook-ups are failure for all parties within Yale’s gothic walls and especially if that practice continues into the world outside of Yale.

    When is it really a good idea to be a complete idiot? I don’t know anyone that would like to carry that label around and feel good about oneself. College is a time to learn to become a responsible adult and not act like an idiot.

    Yalies: Don’t believe and fall prey to everything presented to you!

  • The Anti-Yale

    I grew up in a world full of GUILT, especially about anything which brings erotic pleasure to the flesh.

    Now, we (in America) have a world WITHOUT GUILT, especially about anything which brings erotic pleasure to the flesh.

    Which world is better?
    Which world is safer?
    Which world is healthier?

    I do not have answers to these questions, I merely pose them.

    • River_Tam

      This is you at your best, PK.

  • ygrd

    Please tell me this article is a joke. Part of being an adult is realizing actions and choices have consequences, many of which are long-term and unforeseeable. Mature adults understand the need for responsible decision making and careful consideration, especially in matters involving personal relationships. The hedonistic and care-free behavior advocated by this column, and the condescending and spoiled-adolescent tone it strikes, suggests to me a lot of undergraduates still have a lot of growing up to do.

  • anonymousyalie8879

    Sounds like the author didn’t get any action as a freshman, and is attempting to find justifications by projecting her own self-esteem issues onto freshmen in the form of ‘wisdom.’

  • hounie09

    While I don’t disagree with the author that long distance relationships can raise stress, hurt your social life, and be generally soul crushing, it’s hard to find columns like this anything but disheartening.

    I was in a long distance relationship throughout my four years at Yale, and heard this message all the time. I don’t imagine that its peddlers were trying to make my love life more miserable than it already was, but that’s pretty much the only effect they had. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t listen to them: living through a long distance relationship caused me to mature more than anything else I did at Yale, and today, having been married to that sweetheart for two years, I’m pretty sure it was worth the misery and lost opportunities.

  • inycepoo

    This is actually pathetic. Encouraging freshmen to slut around campus in lieu of trying to establish a long-term connection with someone, be it long distance or not? I thought Yagoda graduated already.

    • River_Tam

      You can pay for school but you can’t buy class.

  • ldffly

    Administrators, do you have a comment on this article?

  • The Anti-Yale

    I doubt that administrators allow their bubble to be pierced by the Yale Daily News and its posting board.

    Benign neglect and intransigent equivocation are administrators’ favorite tools.

    Administrators count on a third tool, TIME to solve all problems: one quarter of the student body washes out to sea through graduation every year, and a new one quarter washes in through freshman admissions.

    Administrators pray that the middle half of the school won’t make too much trouble in the meantime and stroke those sophomores and juniors with benign neglect and intransigent equivocation.


    M. Ed. (Student Personnel Services and Administration in Higher Education)

    • ldffly

      I’m sure they won’t have a comment. Just an indirect way of pointing out that at various points those people have aided and abetted the hookup culture

  • 84

    And now for a different opinion from somebody who has woken up to the “hook up hangover”:


    Sorry for referring to that ugly orange and black school……….

  • inycepoo

    > …writing columns about topics you know nothing about.

    Yep, sounds about right.

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