Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#99: Long-term relationships

The problem of gender relations at Notre Dame is one of the biggest complaints people have about student life at the school.  Students complain that the combination of single-sex dorms and parietals is a system of the past that discourages friendship between the sexes (see #63).  The continuance of dorm parties being informally restricted to men’s halls (see #98) even further separates the genders on a day-to-day basis and leads to awkwardness at all turns. 

The result of these things is that men and women at Notre Dame do not often foster actual friendships with each other or even really go on informal dates with one another.  Instead, men and women at Notre Dame consistently find their sole interaction in long-term relationships.

Notre Dame does not have a significant dating culture.  One day, Notre Dame Students are hooking up together, and the next day sees them turning around Claddagh rings (see #6) and changing Facebook statuses to show and tell the world that they have entered into a relationship.  The lack of dating at Notre Dame stems not only from the complete lack of avenues to develop rich friendships between the sexes, but it also is caused by the lack of nearby dating options.  Although this could be changing with the recently opened Eddy Street Commons, the fact that Notre Dame exists in its own little bubble, distinctly separated from the outside, leaves students with few places to go on dates beyond the dining halls.  While “dining hall dates” are certainly popular, their awkwardness is a further detractor from a dating culture in general.

However, the lack of a dating culture does not mean a lack of relationships.  Notre Dame Students love entering into long-term relationships primarily because they love the idea of marriage (see #91), but also because they love all of the things that go along with long-term relationships. 

Notre Dame men like long-term relationships because they sometimes grant them an opportunity to go beyond the Notre Dame Hook-Up and into a new territory of intimacy (see #21).  These men have a person to consistently break parietals with, and this gives them an opportunity to show their friends and hallmates how awesome they are (even if they are not awesome at all).

Notre Dame women like long-term relationships for reasons beyond the direction of their Claddagh rings.  For women, a long-term relationship gives them a strong group of friends to hang out with that they might not have if they only hang out with other girls.  It’s no secret that Notre Dame men form stronger groups and have a more intense level of brotherhood between them than Notre Dame women, and so they are happy to allow girls into their groups when their friends begin a relationship.  Because of this, many Notre Dame women end up being better friends with their boyfriends’ hallmates than they ever were with their own hallmates.  The relationship, therefore, allows a Notre Dame woman to become a part of all the things that make men’s halls great, like room pick drama (see #80), playing video games, and the weekly hugfest known as the Rite of Peace during Sunday night dorm Mass (see #10).

Once they come together in their long- term relationships, Notre Dame Couples like all of the things that make a relationship great.  They like spooning on couches where everybody can see them (see #27), wearing each others sweatpants (see #49), and playing footsy while “studying” together in LaFortune (see #68).  They like watching Love, Actually together and arguing about how justified Mark’s actions are (see #69).  They like walking around the lakes, actual dates at Papa Vino’s, and staying in on weekend nights because they no longer need to look for dance-floor makeouts at dorm parties and Finny’s. 

Overall, Notre Dame Students like long-term relationships because they like to love and be loved.  They like the consistency that comes with a relationship, and hate having to resort to the hook- up culture.  They like to think that the person they are dating is the one they will be with for the rest of their life, that they will get married to each other in the Basilica, watch their kids become Notre Dame Students in their own right, and that they will grow old together and live happily ever after.


  1. I think you totally overstate the strain on "gender relations" caused by this alleged "complete lack of avenues to develop rich friendships between the sexes". In my experience, there are plenty of avenues for developing friendship with the opposite sex that can conform to parietals and other ResLife restrictions. I've never understood this claim and find it largely unfounded.

    You could look at the other end of the spectrum at colleges with far more liberal policies about relations between the genders and what you find is an oversexed student body where the opposite sex is largely objectified. I hardly think this a more healthy environment.

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