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ISSUE 117 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/5/2004

Sex on the hill: Breakin' Up

By Jennifer Hancock
Contributing Writers

Friday, March 5, 2004

Have you noticed all the seniors are breaking up? Is it the weather? I have heard of four break-ups in the last week. When I inquired why these couples had called it quits, the answers were disconcertingly similar.

"The Future" (that's right, capital letters) seems to be THE reason to break it off, trumping omnipresent, spring-induced infidelity. But what are people talking about when they talk about "The Future?" And what does "The Future" have to do with breaking up? If you're a senior, everything.

Has anyone read "The Neverending Story?" If you were a big-banged child of the 80s, which you all were (get over yourselves and admit it -- the 80s rocked), you've probably seen the movie. The force of evil against which Sebastian and friends battle is called "The Nothing," a horizon of thick smoke that erases everything in its path. Oles think of "The Nothing" as synonymous with "The Future": ominous and overpowering.

Some relationships die before any conversations about the future ensue. The mere pressure ends the relationship immediately. Questions like "Do I ask her to marry me?", or "Do I move in with her?" fill people with such anxiety that they spontaneously combust, dump their lover and celebrate spring alone.

Some swing to the opposite extreme and latch onto their significant others like leeches. They decide they can't live without one another. They decide that this relationship IS their future. I've always put this type of romance in what I call "hyper-relationship" mode. The Relationship requires constant maintenance. The Relationship requires the entirety of your soul. The Relationship eventually stifles you until you forget who you are. These couples need one another to feel less afraid in the face of The Future. Graduation is daunting, but don't latch onto your partner if you'll be holding each other back.

Others get engaged. This alone is a worthy topic for the rest of my columns, but I'm far enough from that place in my life that I'll only comment on it briefly. I think we're all VERY young, and I am continually baffled by the St. Olaf marriage phenomenon. Mainly what concerns me is the reason some Oles get married. Somewhere along the line, some students got the bizarre idea that the only good people in the world go to St. Olaf. If you've eaten a meal in the caf, gone to a football party or seen a Limestones concert, you'll quickly see how untrue this is. If you don't find a spouse at St. Olaf, you will die old and alone with nothing but a B.A. and a Norwegian sweater. Right.

What's really going on here is the discrepancy between the "College Relationship" and the "Real World Relationship." While St. Olaf is as real a place as any, I don't know many students who actually believe that. We live in a specific community, which caters to a specific kind of relationship: namely a monogamous, long-term one. For Oles, the College Relationship is a serious one. But how does the College Relationship translate into the "Real World Relationship?"

A College Relationship is comparatively easy and predictable. You eat, work and study together. On weekends, you watch movies, stay up late or go to the Cities, whereas the Real World Relationship involves the complications of living in a new place, paying rent, working a new job and making new friends. Inevitably, some couples will break up who could have been happy outside the St. Olaf paradigm. And, perhaps more tragically, some couples will stay together who would be better leaving one another behind after graduation. And still others will translate naturally and perfectly from College to the Real World.

Ultimately, The Future dictates our lives as much as we let it. Love today and perhaps youll love again tomorrow. Not a lot more we can ask for.

 The Manitou Messenger's resident sex columnist is available for questions on all subjects sexual and otherwise. Contact her with comments and questions at

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