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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.