A cynic’s guide to college romance

With Campus KickOff days in full swing and school already launching into its second week, students are starting to settle into class schedules and college life. Now, thoughts and interests are inevitably wandering to subjects of a more tantalizing nature, including friendships, parties and relationships. Having a coed campus of more than 40,000 students, the University provides the ideal environment for the making and breaking of boyfriends and girlfriends. Unless you have a will of steel, you too will tumble into the morass of emotions known as “love.”
Although relationships are as varied as the people involved, certain guidelines can be applied to most stages of love, from meeting that special someone all the way to mending a broken heart. After observing a number of tried and not-so-true college relationships, I present the “Gopher Guide to Love,” the handbook that most students follow in their day-to-day adventures.
Obviously, before you can begin a relationship, you need to find The One — that kindred spirit who fills you with happiness, makes you feel alive, turns your world upside down and all that other drivel. College parties or local bars provide the opportune setting for searching out and exploring your possibilities. Remember the universal rule of human beauty — people always appear more attractive when you are so drunk you see double. To optimize your chances of attracting a member of the opposite sex, attend every party you humanly can.
Once you settle into party mode and have the chance to scan the party crowd, always choose the most-coiffed, most artificially-enhanced person as your target for the evening. Even if you might not hit the intellectual jackpot, at least you will be left with some eye candy. And, of course, everyone knows that physical attraction constitutes 100 percent of any relationship.
After you have spotted your potential soul mate, begin flirting — but remember to keep it superficial. Do not show all your cards at once. Attempt to maintain interest by giving the illusion that you might possess traces of a unique and intriguing personality. As a general rule, never act your age and never discuss an even remotely abstract subject. Rather, talk of how drunk you were at the last party, how your ex screwed you over, how many times you got laid last week — these are worthy topics of conversation. Also, do not forget to begin your sentences with “It’s like …” and to punctuate every other sentence with a giggle or guffaw.
Congratulations on setting the initial bait! Now the difficult choice will arise: do you opt for a one-night stand, or do you develop a longer relationship? If alcohol has shut down whatever analytical reasoning you might have had before you were drunk, it is more than likely that the first option will be chosen by default. If you are still in a semicompetent state, remember that true love — the lightning-striking, life-shattering, heart-stopping kind of love — suspends all logic and rational thought. Even if this might be a only a pale shadow of true love, you would best be safe by abandoning your head and listening to your hormones.
You are now formally “in love” and must act the part to ensure its authenticity. You are given license to act more pathetically confused and distracted than even your closest friends thought possible. Deep, longing sighs are essential for maintaining the hormonal drive — the more drawn out, the better. Remember to completely nauseate everyone around you by incessantly gushing over your new significant other, detailing all the cutesy, drippy, lovey-dovey sweet nothings you whisper in each other’s ears. Although you will sound like the idiot that you insist you’re not, hopefully your friends will humor you and not give you too many rolled eyes or disgusted expressions.
Being in love also means completely rearranging your priorities. Yes, your gpa will drop into the negative values. Yes, your friends and family will be ignored and put on hold. Yes, your future career will no longer be important. But now that you have found someone to love and cherish for the rest of your life, those other minor issues no longer matter. You are obliviously wrapped up in the blissful moment.
Before toppling off your pillar of love and crash landing into the real world, you will live in a delusional euphoria. You will never have loved more passionately in your life, and you will have never met anyone as romantic or caring or funny or sexy as your new soul mate. Although each of you might have exes numbering into double digits, they were all jerks and just never appreciated you for who you really were. Of course this new person is different. Your lover holds the key to your soul and understands your secret nooks and crannies. What an incredibly touching phenomenon — two people finding true love in each other’s arms. Whenever I witness this poignant scene, I always have to wipe away a tear — of laughter, that is.
Unfortunately, even paradise cannot be eternal. Although you could have never foreseen a breakup since you were hopelessly in love, it actually does happen. Your heart will be shattered, and you will tell yourself that your life no longer holds any meaning or substance. To ease the pain of a separation, search for someone else to whom you can transfer your emotional baggage. Finding another soul mate before the end of your previous relationship is always a good strategy and eases the transition. If you are extremely fortunate, perhaps your next lover will be in your same situation, and you can commiserate together over your mutual breakups. After all, interests in common always form a strong bond.
If, after the breakup, you were unsuccessful in locating another porter to lug your emotional baggage, you can always rely on your friends. Since your lover has abandoned you, you now have time to take your friends off of hold and use them to comfort yourself. Cry on their shoulders, mope around your family members and, in general, make the greatest effort to spread your misery around to as many people as possible. The more people you manage to depress, the easier it is for you. Although your grades have now fallen to abysmal levels, you will continue to ignore reality and obsess over what might have been.
The question of how to mend a broken heart has plagued mankind for centuries. Two options present themselves. You can continue to torment yourself over this last relationship until everyone steers away from your self-pitying self. Or, after an appropriate length of mourning — a week is usually long enough — you can demonstrate the resiliency of the human spirit and human heart by attending the next party bash and falling in love anew with the first drop-dead gorgeous person who crosses your path.
Although these guidelines do not apply to all attachments, most college flings follow this general outline. Whether the force of love itself or the intent of the actual lovers dictates the ultimate path of a relationship is still to be determined. Despite this unknown element, love continues to be a popular pastime. As soon as people fall out of one relationship, they will eventually involve themselves in another one, no matter how mangled they are. As you venture into your own adventures of intimacy, do not forget your Gopher Guide, and remember, love is a wonderful thing.

Samantha Pace’s column appears on alternate Mondays. She welcomes comments to [email protected]