Dear Style readers,
Today, we give you the newest addition to our section, the column that you’ve been waiting for, whether you know it or not. We ask you to join us as we take a small turn off of the beaten path and stroll from our beloved 34th Street to the new, the improved, the sexy, 69th Street. It is an unexplored and erotic area of our neighborhood.
We want that this section will to be an outlet for advice on sexuality, love, relationships, and more. It is a place devoid of judgement and open to all questions and concerns. With the help of our two main columnists, Hannah and John, 69th Street will bring clarity to the topics that our readers have been nervous to ask about.
May this new section pique your interest, answer your questions, quell your concerns, and ultimately, improve your sex and love life.
Fear of the unknown often drives the romantic endeavors of people our age. We tend to pursue people we’re familiar with, whether it be from classes, our freshman halls, or previous hookups. This way, nothing is ever too unexpected or uncomfortable. Perhaps Penn students’ innate discomfort with non–Penn Philadelphians plays a role in this trend. Naturally, dating strangers, whether it’s through a blind date, online dating, or asking out randos, has potential to lead to pleasant meet–ups and worthwhile romance, but perhaps more importantly or more often, it could lead to some uncomfortable interactions.
We (the authors? The sexperts?) firmly believe that there is much to gain from going on bad dates. We also firmly believe that you are not too good for people outside of Penn—actually you’re definitely not. You’re only hurting yourself by limiting your options. And unless you’re moving to Manhattan with the rest of Penn after you graduate, your bubble will burst someday, and you’ll be pressed to forge romantic connections with new and unknown people. So, why not get some practice in early?
People should never feel like their lives are less full without a relationship. Honestly, relationships can dull people. But if it’s something you want, here’s the thing: finding somebody who you like, and who likes you back, is a numbers game. The more dates you go on, and the more comfortable you become with bad ones, the more likely it is that you’ll stumble upon a diamond in the rough. And if you don’t, that’s okay, too. But stop thinking you’ll meet somebody in the library like you imagined and play the field—it’s what real people do!
Navigating an interaction with a complete stranger is an art form, and by seeking out uncomfortable and potentially boring or odd interactions, we can master it. Bad dates can help us understand how to utilize small talk effectively, and how to transition it into more substantive topics. They can help us understand how to best present ourselves: which of our interests are good conversation starters, what stories people respond well to. After our fair share of bad dates, we can tell which people will laugh when John mentions he wet the bed until he was 12, and which people will find his late–stage nocturnal enuresis off–putting, or who will be okay with Hannah explaining that her “most potent sexual awakening was season two episode six of Skins when Tony goes to boarding school.”
On second thought, maybe we are other people’s bad dates sometimes—and if that’s the case, we’re not sorry, and we hope you’re reading this.
Bad dates are not necessarily catastrophic. More times than not, they’re just a drink’s worth of boring back–and–forth and a side–hug goodbye. Hannah’s Bumble date with a local MBA student was just that—there was no massive slip up, just somebody who didn’t ask enough questions and spent the bulk of the date listing his ice sport–related injuries without making eye contact. Exposing ourselves to more people like this helps us better understand what we are and aren’t looking for in a potential partner. For example, thanking a server for refilling a glass of water is a good sign. Repeatedly making the joke that they “don’t have Hepatitis C, haha …” is not!
Sometimes we try to reappraise these sorts of interactions as something better than they were, or romanticize the other person when we know we didn’t like them at all. When we first started dating, we found ourselves eager to continue seeing anyone who would agree to it. Our excitement of feeling desired won out over our discomfort with individuals we knew weren’t a good fit for us. But it’s a series of these kinds of dates that can instill in us the power to decide we don’t like somebody, that we can and should say no to for a second or third date, and that we deserve more than mediocrity.
Just like the time in fifth grade when John shaved his newly sprouted leg hair only to discover he was more ashamed of having shaven than he was of his pubescence, the bad experiences are really just as valuable as the good ones. Knowing what doesn’t work for you will eventually get you to what does. There are over a million people in this city. Take advantage of that while you can! Go forth and date some of them! We hope you don’t enjoy it.
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