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Romero '14: Let's talk about relationships

"Well, you know how it is with him - he's in a monogamous relationship so he barely has any time for his friends."

"People don't have the time for monogamous relationships? That's like saying that you don't have the time to love."

The above quotes are snippets from conversations I have had with friends about the status of relationships at Brown. The first quote derides the constraints of being in a monogamous relationship at Brown, while the second quote laments the lack of emotional commitment in the "hookup culture" present in college.

Both perspectives examine two opposite sides of the relationship spectrum, but by no means encompass the only types of healthy relationship models at Brown. These two types seem to be the most popular at Brown. But there are more relationship types available, despite Cara Dorris' '15 claim in her  column declaring that the only two kinds of relationships at Brown are "rigid, Facebook-official romances and hurried, efficient and occasionally chronic hookups" ("Dorris '15: The fiction of relationship?" Feb. 10).

The myth that there are only two types of relationships at Brown creates a stigma for students who want to explore any type of relationship - whether a monogamous relationship, hook-up or other kind of relationship. In other words, there's a lot wrong with the relationship scene at Brown. Students get criticized either for being in a committed relationship, for hooking up consistently with the same person or for having a relationship that is outside of those two categories, such as a polyamorous relationship or multiple casual hookups.

Let me first discuss the prevailing notions of the two most recognized types of relationships on campus. The "rigid romance" that Dorris describes is the relationship type that is most accepted by popular society. A misconception about the exclusive relationship is that very few people at Brown want one - that everyone just wants to hook up and not be limited by a monogamous relationship.

In reality, there are a fair number of people who choose to engage in monogamous, romantic relationships. The Herald published an article in Nov. 2011 about the surprisingly low number of different sexual partners Brown students had in the fall of 2011 ("Students fall short of sex expectations," Nov. 28, 2011). A 38 percent plurality had no sexual partners, while 36 percent had only one partner. Though these numbers might suggest that people are hooking up with the same partner, it also suggests that the myth of the "crazy hook-up culture" at Brown is exaggerated.

Sure, we may not see many couples holding hands on Thayer or going out for dinner in a fancy restaurant, but couples at Brown do exist, despite the popular notion to the contrary.

The other common relationship type, the hook-up, also dominates conversations about the general atmosphere of romances at Brown. Everyone just wants to hook up, no one wants to feel a special connection, no one has time for real love. This notion is false.

As The Herald's poll shows, reports of the hook-up culture at Brown have been greatly exaggerated. Even when people do decide to hook up instead of following more traditional relationship models, it doesn't mean that they are any less "committed" as they probably hook up with the same partner.

Indeed, both monogamous relationships and hook-up relationships can foster positive, healthy and consensual relationships. The stereotype that hooking up only entails meeting someone at a party, having sex with them and then never speaking to them again is false and is damaging to people who have empowering experiences with this type of relationship. A hook-up relationship can be "committed" or "exclusive" or have any of the other positive qualities usually associated with romantic monogamous relationships.

And what about other kinds of relationships that do not fall neatly under these two categories? There are many types of relationships people can have positive experiences with, whether they be open relationships, online relationships, asexual relationships or other kinds. Preferences can fall anywhere on the relationship spectrum - even outside of it. To pretend that there are only two types of relationships effectively shames those who do not choose those two types. More education on what a positive relationship entails could help many students seek what they've been looking for without having to settle for someone else's notion of what a relationship should be.

 

 

David Romero '14 encourages you to not be ashamed of your relationship preferences and can be reached at 

david_romero@brown.edu.


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