Love: The dating scene at the U of C

Don’t believe the hype. Clever T-shirt slogans aside, it’s quite possible to find love-or at least a close approximation thereof-at the University of Chicago.

By Kira Bennett

Don’t believe the hype. Clever T-shirt slogans aside, it’s quite possible to find love—or at least a close approximation thereof—at the University of Chicago. In fact, U of C students do so much lovin’ that they’ve created a whole set of institutions, complete with witty nomenclature, to facilitate romance. So set aside your calculus review book and prepare to bone up on the real meat of the University’s curriculum: the dating scene.

Dating early and often: O-mances

Why wait? Engage in the noble tradition of “O-mancing” a fellow first-year during orientation week, before the upperclassmen swoop in to cramp your barely legal style. You couldn’t ask for better circumstances. Just think: a gaggle of 18-year-olds jammed into close quarters, many of them living away from home for the first time, most of them brimming with anxiety about their intellectual and personal merits, all of them eager to please.

You’ll never be as enthusiastic about the college experience as you are right now (nor as free of academic responsibilities), so channel some of your nervous energy into beginning a relationship that you will almost certainly look back on with fond nostalgia as being awkward, misguided, and more than a little bit forced. Pro: The constant O-week “icebreaker” games mean that you can avoid the awkward “so what was your name again?” conversation. Con: Since classes haven’t begun yet, “that kid” in your midst is less obvious. Choose wisely.

It’s all relative: housecest

Rest assured—U of C social traditions don’t conclude with the end of O-week. As the upperclassmen return to campus and fall begins in earnest, a student’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. But when the weather turns cold, nightly treks to dorms on the other side of campus become more of a slog than a tryst. When excursions start to seem like a chore, turn to those who know you best—your housemates. Sure, it will be awkward if you break up on bad terms and still have to face one another at weekly house meetings (not to mention having upward of 30 mutual friends), and there’s the constant danger of a surprise visit, but at least your toes will stay warm. Pro: proximity. Con: proximity.

The frat scene

If O-week has come and gone and the ceaseless scrutiny of housecest doesn’t appeal, you can always experiment with the opposite extreme: fraternity parties. For those who like their women like they like their beer (warm and bubbly, with plenty of head), frat parties are the place to be. They’re the same in colleges and movies the world over—dank and strangely sticky, full of people who are slightly wobbly but very enthusiastic. Leave your white silk shirt and discerning taste in music at home, and glory in the knowledge that you are participating in the most ancient and venerable American college tradition. Vive la beer pong. Pro: simplicity. Con: high risk of undesirable contact.

Of course, there are plenty of less ritualized ways of meeting new people. Join a club, stay a few minutes after Hum class to chat with the girl you’ve been debating Plato with for the last half-hour, or just strike up a conversation with that guy at the C-shop who is obviously looking for a pleasant distraction. Stereotypes aside, most U of C students really are friendly and willing to meet new people. Just make sure you have something to talk about once you’ve exhausted your theories about the Apology.