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Opinion | Miami Merger tradition is dying and so is the college dating scene

By Abbey Gingras
On April 10, 2014

Our generation grew up in a technology transition. In elementary school, many of us were still doing math problems on chalkboards or in our heads. We would go to the library to check out books and spend our days practicing cursive as teachers reminded us that we would "use this in the future."

Fast forward to today: the calculators in our phones are better than those used in classrooms 15 years ago, books are read on tablet screens and cursive isn't being taught anymore in most schools. Although all these differences are ones we've grown up with and adjusted to, the largest gap between our generation and that of our parents is that of relationships.

When you talk to your parents or grandparents, you often hear about how they were high school sweethearts, how they've been together for 50 years or how they met and fell in love at 18 and never looked back. This is especially noticeable on Miami's campus with so many faculty, alumni and parents of students priding themselves on being "Miami Mergers" who met their soulmate in college right here in Oxford. But with conventional relationships falling to the wayside as casual dating becomes standard, will our generation continue that tradition?

"Having an exclusive relationship in college is difficult, especially if the other person is at another school," first year Nick Stallings said. "It comes down to trade-offs. Is the time you spend away from that person worth the short time you might get to see them? Are things that you miss out on, like the casual dating scene, worth what you gain from your partner? Exclusive relationships are hard to maintain, yes, but worth the hardship if it's someone you care about."

For those who aren't in relationships, the complicated "hookup culture" that college students find themselves in today makes getting into an exclusive relationship a difficult feat. Hiding behind the screens of phones, groups of friends will spend hours analyzing texts received from a crush and even more hours crafting the perfect response. We have terms that confuse people as few as 10 years older than us, like "we're just talking" or "we have a thing." A friend will come to you in tears, saying that she "hooked up" with a guy at a party and never heard from him again.

In a study done by sociologist Paula England at Stanford University, 72 percent of both male and female college seniors reported having at least one hookup during college, with an average of 9.7 hookups for men and 7.1 for women.

Is this the kind of romance we were promised in our favorite cheesy movies? When we were children, we saw princes searching kingdoms for the girl they met that changed their life. As we matured, we looked on in awe as Richard Gere popped out of the sunroof of a limousine with roses in hand for Julia Roberts. We wondered why no one had written us 365 letters, every day for a year, out of pure love.

Now I don't want everyone on campus to think that I am a crazy person who thinks that "The Notebook" is going to happen to me. As much as I love Nicholas Sparks' books and movies, I live in the real world. I have realistic expectations of men that don't involve kissing in the pouring rain or shopping trips with no limit on spending. But I stand by my belief that our generation needs to stop ridiculous dating habits- both men and women.

The biggest issue we have is extremely high or extremely low expectations of others. People tend to fall on one end or the other of the spectrum and both lead you to bad luck in relationships. Those with high expectations seem demanding, ungrateful, needy or high maintenance. Those with low expectations can end up in relationships, or non-relationships like "talking," where they aren't treated with respect.

The truth is that I don't believe the Miami Merger is dead, but I do think it is in danger. Miami University is full of wonderful students who are smart, funny, talented and driven individuals. However, a lot of these individuals have fallen into the habit of expecting too much or too little from dates and relationships.

Not every person we date is going to be someone we want to marry, but that doesn't mean we should give up on dating. It also doesn't mean that if a date goes well, we should be plotting to kiss them under the Upham Arch as soon as possible.

Date whomever you want to date, and if you want a more defined relationship then be upfront about it. As I'm sure many Miami Mergers would tell us, relationships require honesty and communication. So stop carefully constructing text messages to the person you're "talking to" and try actually talking to them; you might be surprised by what you hear.

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