Sex and the Stanford Soulmate

Recently, the Stanford Daily published a features article entitled “Stanford Soulmates,” which attempted to address the well-known myth that about 70 percent of Stanford students marry other Stanfordites, by recounting the stories and relating the insights of just three couples, only two of which are actually married.

More like an amalgamation of nostalgic recollections and interesting dating perspectives, the article said quite little—it could only say quite little—about “romance on the Farm” and even less about the myth. Interestingly, however, the comments section below seemed to reveal far more about the reality of the Stanford dating scene, a reality which is far less sunny than this *Daily *article seems to let on.

To understand what I’m saying, read this post from one commenter:

“UGH. I met my future spouse while we were both undergrads on The Farm. Don’t do it, kids! Otherwise you’ll be forced to run into your ex at every reunion!”

Or this excerpt from a five-paragraph comment:

“Ladies, if you aren’t an athlete and want a guy to respect you for the busy career woman you are, don’t go settling for some Stanford dude who has no idea wtf he is going to do with his underwater basket weaving major and spites you for your vision. You have enough troubles deciding what YOU want to do…

Take away message: if he is taking you out on dates to Stern, you met him when he vomited on you at a frat party, or you met him in IHUM when he was being a creeper in the back row, there is a possibility that you’re doing it wrong.”

(Due to the length and tone of this post, a subsequent commenter quipped, “the [sic] problem with you ‘trees’ is that you over-analyze everything,” thus igniting a hilarious mini-argument about calling us ‘trees.’ But I digress.)

This “far less sunny” reality which I alluded to earlier has been memorialized in yet another**myth (read: truth) of which almost every Stanford student is aware: our dating scene is notoriously sub-par. So far below par that we even have Peter Bing ’55 offering students his advice on how to meet someone at, where else, but the Bing Wing of Green Library!

So far below par that Professor Philip Zimbardo and his students collaborated on “The Score on Scoring: The Guidebook, Stanford Edition” several years ago, with such sketchy sections as “Scoring with Your ‘Superior’” or “Scoring with Your Best Friend.”  So far below par that we have just resigned ourselves to admitting that there is no (worthwhile) dating at Stanford.

But rather than re-iterate for the umpteenth time the various theories that we “over-analytical ‘trees’” have developed to explain the unfortunate Stanford dating scene, I’d like to propose a new theory, an idea which has hardly been mentioned in the “literature”:

Romance on the Farm is too sexualized.

The idea that the dating scene is so bad that we say there is no dating at all is accompanied by the complaint that Cardinal romance generally comes in two forms: the hookup and the trial marriage. But what many don’t seem to realize is that there is such little dating *because *of the hookup and the trial marriage. While the former is self-explanatory, the latter requires further description.

We’ve all known those couples who start out quite cutely, *that *guy and girl in your friend group who you merely suspect like each other.  But a crazy weekend and a couple fun group outings later, and you’ll find that same couple “cuddling” in the lounge, and by “cuddling” I mean holding on to each other for dear life in a manner which makes you kind of uncomfortable.

Another week later and they are Facebook-official, and if the both of them don’t already live in your dorm, you’ll begin to see the girl- or boyfriend in your friend’s room more than you see your friend.  Another two or three months later and they’re going on mini-honeymoons to Hawaii, Las Vegas, or southern California.

Like “hooking up,” implied in the majority of these trial marriages if, of course, sex. And this, I argue, is what makes dating at Stanford so gosh-darn tricky: sex is either devoid of any meaning at all (hookup) or it *prematurely *becomes an integral part of a relationship, the “super” in the “super-glue” that keeps couples who are not necessarily supposed to be together, together (trial marriage).

For the person who hooks up regularly, his or her sense of commitment and exclusivity is undermined, both of which are essential to the development of *healthy *committed relationships.  As UCLA psychiatrist Dr. Miriam Grossman points out in her book *Unprotected: ** *A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student, young women are especially vulnerable to the damaging psychological and emotional effects of hooking up, primarily because of the hormones that are normally released into the female body during sex.

These hormones, of which oxytocin is the most familiar, allow a woman to form an emotional bond with her partner, often leading her to expect a relationship from a one-night stand, giving of herself more and more frequently to the person who expects no such commitment at all.

Simply put, if we can agree that sex is the most physically intimate one can be with another person, and if we want to maintain the value of this intimacy, then it does not logically follow that hooking up is an effective means of maintaining this value, which we can derive only from sexual exclusivity.

In a similar manner, trial marriages in which sex is a big part can lead one to form deep emotional attachments to another person who may not be the *right *person.  In other words, not only does a trial marriage prevent one from getting to know other equally fantastic people, a trial marriage hampers one’s ability to realize that there even *exist *other equally fantastic people. (Which may perhaps help explain why there is very little asking out being done.)

Thus, we are unfortunately a long way from saying we are a campus in which we can say is one full of soul mates.  But, if we perhaps reduce the uncommitted sex and the sex in**unhealthy over-committed relationships, the *Daily *might one day be able to write an article entitled “Stanford Soulmates – Take Two,” featuring more than just three couples.

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