A lover’s guide to Middlebury

By WILL O'NEAL

College is an exciting three-and-three-quarters to four years for the raging hormone machines we call our bodies. It can also be a time of great angst and confusion. While many of us are simply looking for love, our college environment can sometimes lead us to act in ways that are ultimately counterproductive and harmful to those around us. This moment of social isolation has given us space from our peers — an opportunity to reflect critically on sex and romance in our college community.

Okay, now that that’s over with, let’s talk about how to get laid at Middlebury!

Never text first. If you get somebody’s number, always wait for them to text you. Otherwise, you’ll come off as “creepy” and “interested” and “having emotions.” Yuck! And, if you both wait so long for the other person to text that you never actually talk — eventually pretending not to know each other in the Proc panini line — it’s for the best. You don’t want to be with somebody who isn’t cool enough to pretend they don’t have feelings.

Only flirt with someone if you’re drunk. That way, you can avoid taking any personal responsibility for your emotions. Plus, if you get rejected, it doesn’t count! You were drunk, you didn’t really care anyways.

Use Tinder to see who’s into you and then never talk to them in person. This way, you can reap the benefits of knowing you’re desirable without the bothersome encumbrance of putting your self-image on the line. You would talk to them, but you’re not that interested. Like, you’d go on a date with them, but you don’t want to make it weird, you know? Since Middlebury is so small, you’ll get the extra perk of learning first-hand what cognitive dissonance feels like every time you see that person on campus.

Be hot, or rich enough to pretend you’re hot. As long as you’re attractive, or rich enough to pretend, the emotions of others don’t exist. So go for it: treat that person like sh*t and don’t let it trouble your beautiful, effortlessly-manicured confidence. Isn’t being better than everyone great?

Always string someone along, just in case. If it doesn’t work out with the person you were really trying to get with, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got somebody on deck to fill the gaping hole in your ego. It doesn’t matter if you actually like this person (it’s actually better if you don’t) because after one or two nights, you’ll be on to bigger and better things. Remember: Manipulating others in order to console yourself is the highest form of self-care!

Ghosting people is cool. At one time or another, we’ve all ghosted and been ghosted. Why bother breaking the cycle? Nobody’s ever gotten hurt.

And finally … Always pretend you’re not interested. If you take away one thing from this piece, let it be this. Having strong, genuine feelings for other people is decidedly not cool, and it leaves you vulnerable to the undesirable disruption of your personal fantasies and false self-confidence. Curate a disinterested but vaguely flirtatious persona, and then put it on so much that you eventually forget what it’s like to experience any semblance of authentic, life-affirming emotion. Deadening your inner self is hardly a high price to pay for the luxury of avoiding any kind of sexual or romantic rejection! As the saying goes, Virginia is for lovers and Middlebury is for pretending not to have feelings.

Will O’Neal is a member of the class of 2020.