I’m riding the bus back from the mall when I meet this guy. He’s cute, talkative and doesn’t give a terrible response when I ask what his favourite quote is. He also goes to Western, so he’s scoring pretty well in my books. He asks for my number before I leave and I float home already checking my phone more often than usual.

Two days go by and there’s still no text from my mystery man. Then 2 a.m. rolls around.

“Hey, guess who?” I read, the words glowing in my darkened room. “Wanna meet up?”

Ah, hookup culture.

I r-bomb his text, roll my eyes and fall back asleep.

There was a time I would have jumped out of bed and excitedly picked out something to wear with the naïve impression that this was a date. But I know how this narrative really goes — and it’s not my thing.

I should clarify: seeing someone casually and hooking up is popular for a reason. Some people enjoy one night stands as a carefree alternative to dating and that’s a-okay.

What I can’t wrap my head around is why people become so cowardly when it comes to romantic or sexual encounters. If you’re only interested in hooking up, make that clear; if you’re interested in something more, make that clear and invest in a real date.

But this doesn’t happen. With hookup culture, dates are a rarity and flirting has evolved into vague messages with little to no commitment.

There’s a party tonight and the person you’ve been 'talking to' says “Maybe I’ll see you there ;)." Why are you only 'talking,' why 'maybe?' Why can’t we be explicit with what we mean instead of hiding behind open-ended, empty words? At the end of the day, if you want something positive to come out of talking to someone — be it sex or a date or a relationship — you need to make a confident move in that direction.

If I sound bitter, it’s because I am.

I left high school with the impression that relationships were respectful and monogamous. That when people took the time to get to know you it meant they were genuinely interested in you. Was I sheltered? Yes, very. Is it still bad to want these things in a relationship and hope for a real date? I don’t think so.

When I say “real date” I don’t mean an elaborate dinner, but something a little more creative than hanging out at your place would make for a thoughtful gesture. Dates don’t need to mean you’re ready for some big commitment either. They show that you’re interested in getting to know the person with or without getting lucky later that night.

And if you ask me, London’s got a lot of untapped potential for dating. Between ice skating, cafés, art galleries and hiking trails, it’s a rom-com waiting to happen. You could pull a Barney and Robin at laser tag or plan a Dutch-themed picnic in Victoria Park if John Green’sThe Fault in your Starsis more your style.

I miss the excitement of getting to know someone, building up the courage to ask someone out and letting a relationship naturally unfold — or not.

Upon move-in day in first year, we trade in this process in favour of gaining fast satisfaction on a Saturday night on Richmond Row. We get swept up; we play along because it’s what everyone else is doing and then spend weeks deciphering vague texts from a one-night stand we thought was something more.

Dating could use some reviving lately. But if the real thing is what your searching for, don't settle for anything less. Be assertive with what and who you want, pull up your big girl pants (or big boy pants) and make your move. 

Amy is a second year English and Visual Arts student in Western's faculty of Arts and Humanities. This is her first year as a culture editor at the Gazette. For comments or feedback, email her at amy.skodak@westerngazette.ca.

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