It’s Valentines Day, and whether you are single or taken right now you may be thinking about your relationship status. Three of our writers sound off below about their experiences with love.
Relationships at Kenyon:
Finding love in this club is no easy task–and actively searching for it often seems to yield little success. However, when you do find yourself stumbling into a relationship, the work doesn’t stop. Many people enter their Kenyon career having dated just a little or not at all, leaving them with little direction in navigating Kenyon romance. Maybe I don’t want just casual sex, but a relationship is too formal? What if we did an open relationship? Maybe I’m not ready for this.–the questions abound.
In my experience, it is not only difficult to navigate your own thoughts about relationships, but others’ too. Pressure is everywhere–pressure to talk about your sex life, pressure to not be “Kenyon married,” pressure to validate the authenticity of your relationship for others–essentially, there is an expectation that you fulfill the behavioral role set out for you. Unconventional relationships are still challenged even on the Hill; and no one here, whether single or in a relationship, is immune from gossip.
Despite the pessimistic nature of this discursive account, there ARE redeeming qualities to relationships! The support, friendship and experiences I’ve gained from my relationship have been incredible and crucial during the toughest moments of my Kenyon career. Despite the many external pressures, anxieties and weirdnesses that accompany them, relationships are nothing if not worth a try.
Being Single at Kenyon:
Being single at Kenyon totally means you dance the Single Ladies dance all the time because you don’t need someone, right? Well, actually it’s more complicated than that. Kenyon has an incredibly prevalent hookup culture, which is something I’ve definitely been a part of since I was a first-year. A lot of times, I am not really sure how I feel about being single and hooking up with a different person each week. Some days I feel amazing and empowered by it. For me sex and hooking up isn’t “empowering” because I get outside validation and I draw my confidence from another person. It’s empowering because sex really allows me to embrace my sexuality and myself. It’s not the person I hook up with who brings this to me, it is me in the moment that brings it to myself. I also honestly do not feel ready for a relationship at this point in my life, as I think that me being single right now is the best way for me to understand and love myself. I have so much more time to my friends, my schoolwork, and myself.
However, it can be hard. While I know I am not ready for a relationship, sometimes I want to be in one so badly. When I am at the Deli alone doing work and I see a cute couple holding hands underneath the table, Jane Austen speaks in my ear and for a moment I want someone to be in a relationship with. I remember during my first year at Kenyon, an upperclassman told me that if I was part of the hookup culture I would not be able to get in a relationship, and I remember feeling very confused and frustrated. Why would my sexual past inhibit whether I could connect and commit to another person? Since my first year I have rejected that idea, as I don’t think hooking up should negatively impact a person’s potential relationships. While some days are tougher, I generally now accept and love the fact I am single here. I am very comfortable with myself in the hookup culture, and am feeling less anxious about my relationship status than I did my first year. For other single students here, my advice is to breathe and understand that everything happens for a reason. We are single right now for a reason. I know I will change and someday I may find myself in a relationship, but for now I’ll dance my Single Ladies dance in my room alone.
When you’re in a long-distance relationship, you’re in this constant state of being used to it and simultaneously not being used to it at all. It’s uncomfortably comfortable. My boyfriend and I are both at wonderful schools; in terms of social and academic happiness, we’re exactly where we need to be. I wouldn’t want either of us to move to the other’s environment. That doesn’t mean we don’t miss each other, though. Long distance is tough as hell.
Kenyon makes things a little easier. There’s always enough to do. My friends are always around when I’m feeling lonely. And having a car on campus means I can visit Michigan once every couple of months. It’s not ideal, but it’s nice.
I never miss being single, and I don’t think my freedom has been inhibited by having a long-distance boyfriend. I don’t necessarily enjoy being “taken,” whatever that means – I just enjoy being with my boyfriend. He makes this whole complicated thing worthwhile. Relationships aren’t worth getting into just for the label. They’re worth it because of how much you care about the other person. And if the person you care about happens to be a few hundred miles away, well, then, so be it. You’ll figure something out. Trust me.
Have any thoughts about relationship status at Kenyon? Let us know in the comments!