This weekend was the annual Screw Your Roommate bonanza, which if you don’t already know, involves setting up your (consenting) roommate on a blind date with someone else, who they find on the night of, given paired nametags like “dining hall worker” looking for “someone else to do the dishes” (my personal favorite) or Dorothy looking for Kansas. It’s always fun to watch happy blind date couples hitting it off over junk food in Sayles or awkwardly touching while watching a play. I’ve never done it, but I thought it’d be a good time to talk about the dating culture here--not that I’m an expert or anything. Of course, there are all kinds of people who do “screw date”, as I hear it called most often here--people in long-distance relationships who are just joining in the fun for a night of platonic gondoleering, hopeless romantics who are distrustful of the “contrived” nature of being set up, curious freshmen, people who met last year on screw date and are still dating, people for whom it turns out to be the most awkward night of the year and never see their dates again, and one straight dude whose girlfriend and roommate sent him off on a screw date with a guy.
Since most of my friends are single, I was trying to get some perspective on the dating culture here by trailing some people including said guy, who’s been dating his current girlfriend since Winter of last year. I didn’t get much out of him, though. They hit it off working in the dining hall last year (“I was in the dish room while she was the one who brought up the dishes [to the floor]”). Their first date was in the LDC, and their second was in Burton, and they sometimes get hot turkey hoagies at Hogan Brothers. Between schoolwork and work, it’s sometimes a challenge for them to make time for each other, but they make it work by doing homework together (but they have fun together too, taking Arb walks and playing pool).
What does that tell you about relationships at Carleton? Not much, but I thought it was a cute story.
Read this might tell you a bit more: here’s a good Voice (Carleton alumni magazine) article on the topic of Carleton-married couples.
I see the potential for this a lot--I know couples who’ve gotten engaged before they graduated, couples who live together after they graduate, people who have been together so long they’re an institution. It’s (probably) safe to say that serious dating is far more prevalent than casual dating here.
I’m one half of one of the “much-maligned freshman floor couples” the article mentions (fun fact: the other half’s parents are Carleton married), but hey, sometimes things work out so you don’t have to look any further. Lucky for me, since I'm pretty shy. I agree with the article’s description of couplehood at Carleton “not as going out and doing things together but as self-identifying as a couple and spending time together.” In almost six months of dating, we’ve gone on two “real” dates (aka eating at restaurants in town). We’re poor and busy college kids, so we usually just hang out and decompress together. We’re busier this year, and we don’t see each other as often now that we don’t live in the same place. If any of the current freshmen’s floors are as wonderful as my freshman floor was, I hope they appreciate what a luxury it is to walk into the floor lounge and have all of your best friends in the same place. Protip: life on a small 24-hour quiet floor like 2nd Nourse might not be the most conducive to building a vibrant floor community (4th Burton last year had a lot of screaming and loud singing, it definitely builds community). Anyway, we try to make it work by nabbing study rooms in the Libe or meeting at Sayles during our aligning free time or taking Social Dance I together. It’s sometimes hard to navigate a relationship at Carleton with all of the other demands on your time and attention, but the right person will work with you through your mistakes and all. And I always wonder could have found someone so genuinely good to date in a place less like Carleton.
The important thing is that there’s a place for everyone here, from those who like casual hookups, those like me who began their first romantic relationship at Carleton, and those who are somewhere in between. Everyone does their thing, although I’m sure that a commonality is that almost everyone could use a little more time for it.