While bold in their intellectual battles, many Hillsdale guys are too hesitant in relationships. Protecting their pride and avoiding the discomfort of rejection, they use the friend-card first, rather than take the risk of asking a girl out.
Playing it safe like this kills the art of romance. We should return to old-fashioned, casual dating.
Most Hillsdale students see a date as a big commitment. It’s practically pre-engagement. As a result, guys and girls find other ways of getting to know one another before going out: going on long walks up and down Hillsdale street, having extensive, exclusive meal times in Saga, or whispering and giggling in between the shelves in Purgatory with complete disregard for the prestigious scholars around them.
Many couples “Hillsdate” for several months before any official first date, and sometimes this prolonged test period goes on for multiple semesters before the guy makes a move — because, presumably, it takes a year-and-a-half to know if you really like each other.
We’re too pragmatic for our own good — or as C.S. Lewis writes in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” we’ve read so many books about governments and drains that we don’t know magic when we see it. We’re so focused on the good and the true, that we’ve forgotten the beautiful.
In the classic 1989 film “Dead Poets’ Society,” Robin Williams as Professor Keating tells his male students language was invented for one reason: “To woo women. And, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.”
While gathering theatrical and political significance from the Shakespeare we read in class, we’ve ignored one of the most significant moments he gave us: Harry’s wooing of the French princess Katherine in “Henry V.” The new English king delivers multiple monologues, even speaking some in butchered French. Despite Katherine’s pretended disinterestedness, he succeeds in winning her hand.
A modern romance doesn’t have to be written in iambic pentameter to be meaningful, but it should look different from your other male-female friendships.
This isn’t to say we should be all heart and no head when pursuing a relationship, either. Anyone who’s read “Romeo and Juliet” knows a cocktail of ungrounded passion and slick poetry wreaks havoc on common sense.
Hillsdale students fail at this, too, though perhaps less often. But old-fashioned dating proposes an Aristotelian mean. Instead of letting passion run rampant or bottling it and slapping on a poison label, it puts it in its healthiest place — at a nervous first dinner date at Olivia’s, or a coffee at Rough Draft where six people you know are scattered throughout the room.
The point of old-fashioned, casual dating is still to get to know one another, just like Hillsdating. The difference is that both people are honest about their interest in each other, instead of feigning mere friendship.
The blame falls on both men and women. While men often lack courage, women often fail to set healthy boundaries. In fear of losing a guy completely, they allow these ambiguous male relationships to monopolize their time and give a guy the same level of attention they would give a boyfriend. Then they complain to their girlfriends that “he won’t make a move,” but why would he, when there is no incentive? What we allow is what will continue.
It’s easier for both the guy and girl to pretend they don’t care too much, so if their affections aren’t reciprocated, they can pretend those feelings never existed. But if we want to wear the proud slogan of “virtus tentamine gaudet,” we should apply it to relationships, too, and rejoice in the challenge of finding out if we’re right for each other the hard way — the honest way.
In an article published in the Collegian on Oct. 31, professor of politics Adam Carrington pointed out that “the liberal arts were made for life and for man, not life and man for the liberal arts.”
We’re here to learn to live, and learning to love is a necessary part of that.
Be a man. Just ask her out.
Carmel Kookogey is a George Washington Fellow and a junior studying politics. She is the culture editor for The Collegian.