How not to take the L in relationships on the Harvard campus

Hint: ask those tough questions

In light of Cuffing Season, I think I should shed some more light on the cuffing you may or may not know you're engaging in. Yes, there are people out here in relationships they’re unaware of. And yes, the very same academic elites of this country know neither how to gauge the situation they’re in nor to simply ask the question, "what are we?"

Why does this happen though? What is HUDS putting in the vegetarian Caesar bowl that has so many students absolutely OBLIVIOUS to the obvious? OK, let’s just assume HUDS is too busy enjoying year-old, basic benefits (absolute shame on Harvard Corp) to mess with our social lives. So then why do so many of us future quantitative analysts and primary care physicians take the L so often in the romance (not language) department?

Obviously there's something many of us lack, and I think it's an awareness of the standards too many of us have (and also don't have) for romance: from cuffing to full on "relationships." Let me tell you what some of these problematic af standards are, how they're emblematic of this university as a whole, and what you can do to avoid these Ls because they play everyone.

"I hope he doesn't think we're going to Sunday Brunch after this."

'I hope he doesn't think we're going to Sunday Brunch after this'

Standard inflation?

We at Harvard are known for rolling in grade inflation for all four years of our lives here. While that may not be the case for all concentrations, there’s no denying that a 75 can be a B-, an 85 an A-, and failing all three of your midterms not meaning you fail the course. This type of grade inflation is really a lowering of standards at our college so that crap is average and average is exceptional. If you want more info on this, I’m sure Professor Cohen of the intellectually demanding course CB 39 would LOVE to give it to you.

And while these lower standards boost our GPAs and get us into Wharton and HMS, they absolutely screw us over when they seep into our social lives. YES, this BS is present in our social lives. Think about the criteria your "squad" had to meet to be your squad, or the criteria you had to meet to get into your social organization. Decent behavior (laughing at jokes, responding to text messages, and avoiding discomfort) is more than just expected, it’s praised and is more than enough to get your foot in the door and a seat at the table.

And it’s not very different when it comes to romance. For too many of us, there are only three (yes, sweetie, THREE) things that need to be present for a situationship to be considered cuffing: 1) a stable sex supply, 2) SOME type of meaningful (but really just practical) interaction outside of sex, and 3) frequent text messaging. In other words, one of you could be consistently hooking up with another Harvard undergrad, meeting up consistently at weekly meetings for a mutual club or to check p-sets, and send short and frankly stupid text messages like “that midterm was hard lol” on top of the texts that schedule the next appointment. 😉 Unfortunately, this robotic behavior would be enough for that undergrad to catch all sorts of feelings.

Participation is 100 percent of the grade

You might be thinking, “Well damn, this sounds like my (L)ife.” First of all, I’m sorry. Second of all, you can always fix things, just keep in mind that sometimes the only fix is a demolition. It's all about meaningful participation, and here are some things that will earn you those points:

1. KNOWING THYSELF: What are you in this for? Are you here for a good time or a long time? What's your threshold for cuffing? Is it holding hands while walking across the yard, or is it when bae wipes your drunk tears and puke at 3 AM? These are some of the questions you really need to bring up in your discussion sections, because your responses better line up.

2. POPPING THE QUESTION(S): Listen, I know it's awkward to ask "what are we?" but please do it to spare me the secondhand embarrassment, at least. If you want to be more direct but also PC, you can ask "are we exclusive?" If you want to be more direct and really don't give a damn, you can ask "So…are you smashing anyone else, or nah?" Pick whichever makes you feel comfortable, but do not be ANY less direct than this. You'll only get answers that'll make you assume even more things and often end up playing yourself.

3. READING MORE THAN JUST THE SIGNS: Like I said, those assumptions can you really play you. Just like your partner can misread your actions, so can you misread theirs or, worse, make them up in your head. Does he text you a lot because he misses you or because you're in the same group for [Insert big lecture class here]? Was that "I love you" she told you genuine or something to let you know you were doing something very right in the moment? 😉 Don't rely on these signs alone or you might just paint a very wrong picture of the situation in your head.

4. SEEING SMOKE AND NOT WAITING FOR FLAMES: I understand that you can sometimes wait out the fire alarms in the Science Center because that building's indestructible, but let's not do that when it comes to romance. I told you to not rely on the signs only, which means you shouldn't ignore them either! If you're not feeling the same as before, or if your FWB stays a little too long in your bed after all is done, it's time to take some action. And often your friends will notice things going awry, so please listen to them. After all, they wouldn't put up with your BS if they didn't actually care. <3

When you hook for 3 semesters and he still introduces you as his 'friend.'

When you hook for 3 semesters and he still introduces you as his 'friend.'

5. DROPPING EVERYTHING AND BECOMING A PRE-MED: Honestly, at a certain point you won't have enough time to do anything but study for the MCAT or get the research experience that HMS representative told you all applicants need. You can't take the L if you're not seeing someone and, best of all, you probably won't even have time to notice your singleness. Win-win!

Final Examination

All I really want to see here are transparency and respect. I think those two are enough for beautiful relationships or, at very least, avoiding harmful ones. Emotions (or lack thereof) are not always clear, and what means seriousness to one person might not mean the same to someone else. But if we can be open with each other and aware of our own desires and others', we'll be much closer to taking Ws until we get our diplomas and are locked into two years of employment with McKinsey.