One of the best parts of being a frosh is the clean slate that it provides. You are entering a new atmosphere, with new people who know nothing about you other than what you want them to know. Gone is the reputation that you built in high school, gone are your old friends, and gone are your previous assurances. Free from the bonds of your past life, the first year of college is the best time to try new things and reinvent yourself. This is compounded by the fact that everyone around you has also shed off their old selves in order to experience the fresh start that college provides. And, part of what makes the first year so unique is that almost all of these people have recently become single.
First years break up with their romantic partners for a multitude of reasons: some want a new beginning, some don’t want to do long distance, and some probably just hate their significant others. For some students this is the first time in years that they’re available, having just left a long-term high school sweetheart. And, since they just got out of a relationship so recently, most of the newly-single aren’t looking for a serious thing. So, regardless of their reasons and their backstory, many frosh enter Wesleyan with one thing in common: a desire to finally be part of the much vaunted college hookup scene.
So, now that they can finally achieve their dreams of snorking it with some rando at Psi U, the frosh really go hard. In a previous article, I referred to first years packing into a party as “horny sardines,” and in the weeks since that piece was written my opinion has definitely not changed. The benefit of not knowing most of the student body is that you can try to mack on somebody and not have to see them for months if you fail. The fresh opportunities that being a first year offers, combined with the fact that everyone else wants to hook up just as much as you do, creates what can only be called a hookup utopia.
The problem with such a utopia is that it’s so perfect that you feel like you need to take part in it. While hooking up is great and fun, some people are more partial to dating than hooking up. However, the pressure to hook up is so high that they feel obligated to do so instead of committing to someone. Knowing that the stars will never align in such a way so as to create another bastion of casual snogging creates an urgency to go at it. You know that this is the best time to hook up that you will ever get, so you feel like a dope if you don’t take advantage of it.
However, even though you may wish you were dating someone rather than hooking up, this hookup culture is actually beneficial. Even though it is partially a product of the reinvention process, the hookup utopia is also a proponent of it, helping students grow and mature. While the freshness of their breakups may cause some to seek casual flings, the initial response of many newly single people is to find the first person who will give them affection and start a rebound relationship. However, the limited time frame of the hookup utopia pressures people to continue putting themselves out there instead of finding a rebound. Regardless of how much they want someone to replace the hole left by their snookums or pooh bear, many first years don’t want to waste a minute of their perfect hookup year. Being forced to remain single helps these lovesick students become independent, speeding along personal growth that would be impeded by a crappy rebound.
College should be all about finding yourself and beginning anew. So hooking up, and the autonomy that it fosters, is a beneficial part of that process. Yes, right now you may want nothing other than to date the first person who looks like your ex, but in the long run you know that to be a stupid, stupid, stupid decision. In a few years you’ll be an adult, responsible for your whole life. You’ll need to get a job, pay taxes, and pretend to enjoy awkward adult gatherings. How are you going to be able to do any of that if you’re still wound up over some dude from your high school named Greg? So suck it up, pull yourself together, and go hook up with that person from your class already.
Daniel Knopf is a member of the class of 2022 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.