Last Friday night, I plonked myself down in Trumbull, where — good Yalie that I am — I was grabbing a meal with a friend. To be honest, I was feeling pretty grim about the whole thing. The dessert table had done a vanishing act, and when I’m promised brownies and get no brownies, I get sad instead. But it wasn’t the lack of desserts that really got on my proverbial tits that evening; it was something else, something that’s been bothering me for the past three years now. Something I don’t quite understand, and yet still find terribly depressing. And that something was the way my friend, as she was telling me about this new guy she was hooking up with, paused over her soup and added, almost proudly, “I’m just far too busy for a relationship right now.”
To be fair to her, that’s a particular something we’ve all heard often before. We’ve heard it from friends and suitemates; lovers and strangers. Lots of us, given how often it’s bandied about, have been on its receiving end. And that sucks. It sucks to realize that you’re the last, most expendable tick on someone else’s To-Do List. It sucks to have a person you care about imply that, yeah, sure, they’d love to get around to loving you. But what with other pressing campus commitments — you know, like not doing their reading, bitching about their TF, pooping in other people’s laundry — they just don’t think they’ll be able to squeeze you in.
This is a very Yale problem, I think. Nowhere in the real world do people say they’re too busy for a relationship. They say that they’re not ready for one or only looking for a bit of fun, that they’re moving away, that they’re still moving on. Fair enough. But no one says that they’re too overscheduled for a relationship. You know why? Because that would be ridiculous! It would be like saying that they’re too well-dressed to be dating someone else: just as self-aggrandizing and just as untrue.
Yes, girl in Global Affairs with three leadership positions, it’s untrue for you. Yes, boy in a landed society who edits a major publication, that goes for you too. And believe it or not, YDN, this is a case in which you are not an exception.
Each and every one of us on this campus, just like each and every person on this green earth, does in fact have time for a relationship. You know how I know that? Because I know that we all have to eat, walk places, drink coffee in Blue State, and — eventually — sleep. Well, guess what? All of these things can be done with another person! If you often do them with the same person, and you like that person, you can be dating! Problem solved. Plus, if you do all of those boring necessary things, and you’re dating, you can make out whilst doing them. Bonus points! It’s the romantic equivalent of getting a free gift when you buy your textbooks — and I know you like free gifts. (So do I, so in exchange for my having fixed everything, please send me some, c/o the WKND lounge.)
Now, before you mistake me for that creepy snag-a-husband-at-Princeton lady, let me clear a few things up here. I’m not trying to say that a relationship should be the ultimate goal of your Yale experience, nor that trying to nab yourself a lady or gent should always be prioritized above the other amazing opportunities here. Plus, I know a lot of people don’t want to be dating anyone, thank you very much. That’s excellent! I’m glad you are not Bridget Jones, weeping into your Cherry Garcia in the wee hours. I salute you!
I’m just saying that we do have time. We all have time. If you care enough about someone, you can always make the time. Sometimes — often — the problem is just that we don’t want to — but if so, then we should pull our heads out of our own backsides and just say it, rather than flattering ourselves at someone else’s expense.
It’s that old chestnut about being good people. I know my friend is a kind, caring, considerate person, and so are most people here. But I also think it’s too easy at Yale to get caught in the whirlwind of worrying less about how we act, and more about how we measure up.
Guys. That’s sad. Let’s not do that.
Besides, trust me on this: if James Franco, even whilst he was acting, directing, teaching (and Ph.D.-ing on weekends) could find time to play the field at Yale, so can you.