As I return to campus for the new year, I find myself remembering forgotten details from the previous semester: surprisingly heavy boxes in Secure Storage, overlooked feuds with assholes past, boring classes on my schedule. Other elements, however, have been more confusing to rediscover. Hookups, swat marriages and everything in between were forcibly put on hiatus for the summer months, and relighting these dwindling flames is, in some cases, a confusing process. Swarthmore is reborn, and somehow these relationships lurk unspoken in our closets, along with our Green Day posters and stale Marlboro 100s from middle school. How should we go about extracting them?
Of course, people change over the summer months. Not necessarily the most crucial aspects (late-life circumcisions are rare), but rather smaller and nuanced ones that would impact the way the two of you interact. Worse still with polyamorous dynamics, since they are so delicate to balance that any shift in personality can have a huge impact. Internships may have given someone perspective, a summer fling higher standards in the bedroom (or McCabe Family Room), a summer alone a longing to preserve newfound independence. These small changes need to be acknowledged, and may change the reality of whatever arrangement you have. This could take time, as much as I loathe the waiting game.
The best way to address these is to discuss them openly, which is in itself a stressful possibility. If your partner hasn’t brought it up, why should you be the one rushing things? Maybe they’re just waiting for the first wet (in oh so many ways) Pub Nite to rekindle in the flesh after a couple too many Bud Lights. But this illustrious evening is eons away, by which point the passing of time will have made the whole possibility all the more unlikely. Regardless, there remains the dreaded scenario wherein the chemistry has truly died. Do we prefer living in doubt, or having the certitude that it’s over?
I, for one, am unsure. Having spent the summer with said person in the back of our minds, we’ve been relying on a memory of the past dynamic to project the potential future. If said memory was pleasant enough that we’d want to recreate it, some sadistic asshole within us might be fully satisfied just preserving this state ad infinitum. And who knows, if the recollections of the relationship lasted us this long, they may as well suffice into the coming semester.
I am ignoring the fact that relationships provide us with solace from our Swarthmore lives, ranging from emotional support to a calming fuck. Classes and extracurriculars here are enough of a shitshow that some sort of significant other brings the necessary respite. Maybe, instead of hoping to recreate this comfort, we should try and seek it from other places. Relying more on friends and buying a glistening new dildo for those solitary dorm breaks may do the trick, and the latter will safely wait in your drawer to satisfy your every whim.
More so, why should we even bother? I like to think that the power dynamics of many relationships can be described by how the respective parties view their own emotions: one would say, “I care about him and so does he,” the other “He cares about me and so do I.” I often find that unbalanced relationships rest on the assumption that one partner is more eager than the other, which can be reflected through the syntax of the thought. If you’re having the same considerations as me, you probably are the first partner (condolences — we’re in this together). Should we really be spending our lives in doubt of reciprocation? Why does it seem so natural to us that we should linger in this doubt? People do crazy shit to feel less lonely, or satisfy some socialized ideal of what their life should look like. I know that were I to try and ignore said urges, I’d have a rough time.
But maybe we don’t even need to do so. Our beloved class of ’14 has left us, leaving us bereft of many a stellar queen of the Swarthmore scene, but in their place we have a worryingly large class of fresh faced freshmen. I suggest a call to arms: gather your wingmyn, slip on those funky heels and take Paces by storm, snatching yourself some eye candy boy toy in a majestic swoop worthy of the history books (don’t forget consent!). You could also notice that cute girl in your Russian Novel class and grab some chai tea at Hobbs (and maybe a bit more later on). Swarthmore is our teeny, tiny oyster, and anything can happen here. Finding someone new is always a possibility, as daunting as that initial awkward wave or obscure pun may be.
Personally, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I should probably get used to the straining walk up Magill every morning first, and decide on my new late night Essie’s favorite. The melodramas of my love life are quite frankly redundant, and can hide backstage for now.