With all the lonely hearts grumbling about the impending onslaught of sickly sweet Valentine’s schmaltz, ponder this: is romance dead? Before the Valentine’s Grinch that dwells in the recesses of your soul comes out and grabs the nearest bottle of liquor, rest assured that you’re not alone; the dating situation at McGill is more dire than delicious for many.
It seems that the average student does not date in the formal, pick-me-up-at-the-door kind of way. In fact, many students find that dating altogether is a rare occurrence often blamed on members of the opposite sex.
“The only real dates that I have are with people that I’m already seeing. I’m such a goof that I don’t think people are approaching me for real. I assume it’s pretend even though they might really like me, and I’m such flirt that I’ll flirt and think it doesn’t really mean anything,” says Sarah Schroeter, U2 political science and english literature. “I find guys at McGill are either too forward or too scared. If I’m smiling at you and making eye contact, that means I want you to ask me out.”
Laura Hamilton, a U1 education student agrees with the decline of the dating situation.
“I’ve dated one person before, but not here at McGill. I don’t know why, but I’ve noticed in Montreal a severe lack [of dating]. There is less formal dating, and more informal dating where you go out with a large group,” Hamilton comments.
If all of you are so fabulous…
Commonsense would dictate that raging hormones and cold weather is a recipe for romance even under the most crippling courseload. It would seem that the math of it would be simple: one single person plus another single person equals one couple. Yet, the prevalent singledom at McGill is mind-boggling and inquiring minds want to know why.
“Most of the time, I’m very busy. I don’t get to go out that much, just once in a while. I will generally approach [a] person if the person looks attractive or friendly,” says Robert Ratemo U2 engineering. “Most of the time, I approach people to make friends. I make a lot of friends and if it works out, then OK, but if not, you can just be friends.
“You’ll find that a lot of the girls have boyfriends, but outside of McGill. Most of my friends don’t really date. For me, it’s because I’m older. You can’t really go through mind games, but that’s just me,” says Ratemo.
For some, the circumstances are much more straightforward.
“I don’t have much time [for dating]. I just get to the naughty good shit,” grins Dave Castagner, U2 music.
Of course, personal quirks and tastes cannot be underestimated for the dampening of the proverbial mojo. For Chris G, MBA student, dating seems to be in a deep freeze.
“I date about twice a year. I never approach people. Every time I do it, it never works. I never send signals, I don’t dance very well. The atmosphere [for dating] is too cold,” he says.
All is not lost
Before declaring dating at McGill DOA, a blessed handful of students reaffirmed our faith in the existence of dating and love. There are people out there who date and have active love lives—they just may not be you.
“I think there’s a lot of dating which isn’t necessarily the football player dating the cheerleader. At university, there’s more freedom in relationships,” says Sean O’Connor, U1 arts.
For one student, dating is more than just a pastime- it is a philosophy. Despite her now-steady boyfriend, she seems to have cornered the dating market and shares some of her sage advice.
“I used to date every other weekend. People would set me up with different people or it would be people that I would meet,” remarks Shannon Cohen, U1 anthropology and history.
“Signals? Sometimes, mutual eye contact. I’ve had the ‘Don’t I know you from somewhere’ and it just snowballs from there.
“I think people tend to get into long term relationships. Just because they’ve dated someone once, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be chained to them for life. People should just see each other and date other people before having a relationship. There should be the freedom to say, ‘I’ve gotten to know this person, we’ve gone on a few dates, and I really don’t want to go on anymore’,” advises Cohen.
The international perspective
The McGill International Students’ Network highlights the cultural differences between the amorous playing field of our fair winter hinterland compared with the spicier climes of France, Australia and Brazil.
“I’ll date once in a while, not more than four times a year. I usually take time to get to know the person before I date because God knows what can happen,” comments U2 english student Roberto Rocha of her Latin American home.
“Compared to Brazil, people here are more mature. In Brazil, you can date a girl one night and the next day pretend that you’ve never met her.”
Despite the North American perception of the sensual French, it seems that the average Parisian is much more hands off than Canadians.
“[I date] not too often. I never found the right person, I’m really picky. Canadian guys want more faster. In France, you talk and talk but here they want to kiss you right away,” says Melanie Albiger, grad student at the Genie Industriel Polytechnique.
Australian exchange student Bill Skinner, U2 anthropology, points out that despite cultural differences, we might all be on the same page about what makes a date great.
“Dating, for me, is going out with someone that you like and doing something special like dinner or a movie or something out of the ordinary. Usually, I get approached or it’s a mutual thing and we’ll be thinking the same thing.” opines Skinner.
The last hurrah
The final verdict on dating remains murky, but for some, the key is to take the initiative from your friendly neighborhood cheerleaders and be aggressive.
“We have to go to an auction to get guys! There aren’t enough guys at McGill, the number of men are very few. The boys aren’t really forward enough,” complains Huda Shashaa, a U2 arts student.
This Valentine’s, don’t stay at home twiddling your thumbs. Get on the phone, get on the dance floor, get out your pen and get some numbers. The revival of McGill dating won’t happen on its own.
“I think there’s a lot of casual dating [generally in Montreal] much more than there are actual relationships. [But] university is not conducive to dating,” explains student Maggie Schwalbach, U1 political science. “Usually, the guys that I date are not from McGill. It’s more of a shock than anything if they are from McGill.”
Do you sometimes wonder if you’re the only one despairing over the dating situation at McGill? Well, we did, and we asked 162 McGill students to fill out our ‘Trib date 2001’ survey. Here are some of the most interesting results.
Of those surveyed:
• 58% were single
• 50% of those in a relationship have been in said relationship for over a year
• 31% of those single have been single for over a year while 22% have been single for less than a month.
• 78% have been on an “official date” at least once.
• Men are definitely braver than women: 66% of men said they usually approach the other party, while only 11% of women did the same.
• Still, 65% of those single said they did not “acti
vely date”. Why not? A staggering 60% answered that it just didn’t happen because “nobody asks, I don’t ask”. The “I’m too busy” excuse went out the window, with only 7% answering they didn’t have time to date.
• The “I don’t ask” mentality was confirmed by the 71% who said they would not approach an attractive person in a café. When asked why not, 37% gave “shyness” as the main reason, and only 7% answered that they didn’t want to judge a person by their looks.
• Of the 29% who answered that they would approach an attractive stranger, “curiosity” was the #1 explanation, followed by “why not?”
• Even though an overwhelming majority would not approach a stranger, only 10% said they would not be likely to go out with a fellow student who randomly asked them out, while most contended it depended on the situation.
• Just because we won’t ask anyone out point-blank doesn’t mean we don’t try to indicate our interest more subtly: 85% said that they sent out signals, eye contact being the most popular one. The other 15% don’t send out signals mostly because they’re “too shy”, or they “don’t know how”.
• The signals must not work that well, because only 22% answered that most of their relationships started after being picked up at a party or social event, compared to 75% who said that they were already friends or acquaintances.
• 50% of men thought it was easier for women to pick up, while 55% of women thought it was easier for men.
• 0% answered that most of their relationships started off as blind dates. Blind dates are a strange phenomenon: 60% of those who have never been set up on one said they would be willing to go, but only 28% of those who have been set up on one actually followed through and went.
• 45% of respondents wouldn’t date more than one person at a time (take that, Sex and the City!)
• Finally, the eternal question: how long should you wait before calling? While 45% answered “2 days”, some didn’t hesitate to show their exasperation with comments like “I hate this game bullshit!”