COLUMN: Show The Real You

In four days, it will be Valentine’s Day. This means that for the next four days, Facebook will be an endless stream of BuzzFeed lists giving me the “Reasons Why your Best Friend is Actually your Valentine” or “31 Grilled Cheeses that are Better than a Boyfriend,” and statuses from fellow singletons declaring why their Valentine is either themselves, alcohol, or their platonic friend and why that’s astronomically better than the significant other he or she doesn’t have.

I’m confident that at least one reference to boy-hating wine consumption will be posted on my wall. I’m also confident that I will secretly read a Thought Catalog post detailing how this Valentine’s Day can be a celebration of how much I love my life as it is.

Every year, I decide how I’m going to play it: pretend to hate the holiday and use the excuse that I’ve always thought it was stupid, or celebrate it at a dinner with my girlfriends at which we will bond over hating and loving being single and decide that our dinner was better than any night we would have had with boyfriends. In either situation, I’m being dishonest about how I really feel. If you’re not “wifed up” but want to be, it seems that that dishonesty is standard operating procedure: adopt this cynicism about relationships until you’re in one.

At Boston College, it seems that there are two extremes: emotional relationships and detached hook-ups. While there does exist an in-between of pseudo-relationships and exclusive hook-ups, those inevitably end in one extreme or the other, emotionally invested or emotionally disconnected.
If you’re one of the people lucky enough to belong to the former camp, here’s to hoping that you never again have to re-enter the BC dating game of forced emotional distance and trial and error. If you’re in the latter category, read on.

We always reference “the hook-up culture,” but we never really talk about it. Although we might logically conceive why it’s problematic, it seems to be more problematic in theory than in practice, especially if you’re enjoying your time being single. The problem, for me, is not that we’re forgoing relationships or that too many people are hooking up with each other. Instead, it’s that when we do, the amount of expected emotional connection is devastatingly low, and not necessarily because we always want it to be.

Having inhabited that attitude of false cynicism for four years, it seems that the problem is not always a lack of emotions, but a lack of ability to admit that we have them or that we’d like to have more relationships that include them. It seems so elementary, but I knew of more relationships in high school than I do now. Somehow “it’s college” has come to mean “you’re not supposed to have emotions.”

While there’s value in avoiding getting tied down too early, there’s also value in being emotionally open. I’m not saying we all need to want long-term relationships, nor am I saying that you have to emotionally invest in a person you just met Saturday night. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t close ourselves off to the possibility of emotional relationships for the sole reason that “it’s college.”

This Valentine’s Day, I’m not afraid of admitting that I want something I don’t have and I’m brave enough to stop hiding behind lists that make it seem otherwise. I’ll also be brave enough to be happy as I am. It’s okay to be vulnerable and it’s okay to demand more from others emotionally. The most rewarding moments here are not the ones spent protecting ourselves from others, but the ones spent letting others see who we really are. So I’m going to drop the cynical act and urge my romance-hating friends to do the same. This Valentine’s Day, I’m going to be cynical about being cynical about relationships.