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ISSUE 121 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/9/2008

Expiration Dating

By Miriam Samuelson
Staff Writer

Friday, May 9, 2008

Summer: it's almost here. As the year draws to a close and Oles frantically finish coursework and try to solidify summer or post-graduate plans, we often find ourselves forgetting about the vast expanse of freedom that lies ahead. But this freedom does lie ahead, dear friends, and in a mere three weeks' time, we will all be on the brink of it.

Even in the midst of looming finals, it's hard not to think about the prospect of getting it on. Perhaps you've been eyeing someone all year, and now that you're about to graduate, the desire is burning in your loins. Maybe you have an old love to rekindle, or a relationship that needs a little spicing up. Or perhaps you just have the spring-becoming-summer hornies and just want to make out with someone. Either way, the campus is rampant with sexual energy.

Which brings me to a concept that I've seen and experienced but never heard named until the other day: expiration dating. With expiration dating, you know the relationship, whether based on mutual attraction, mutual desire to make out or mutual need to cuddle, will eventually and inevitably end. And it will probably end before anything gets too serious, which can be a beautiful thing. Each party gets his or her needs met, a little fun and steamy passion is had and everyone parts feeling better and sexually satisfied.

If this concept seems appealing, get it while it's hot. We have in front of us two prime opportunities for expiration dating: the rest-of-the-school-year fling and the infamous summer relationship. If you're looking for one last chance with that hot guy in your chemistry class or a three-week cuddle buddy relationship, start scoping out your prospects now. While many of these expiration-dating relationships begin under the influence of something, they don't have to. It takes guts, but clear communication about the parameters of a short relationship is key. If you don't want it to last into the summer or the next school year, make that clear to the other party involved. If you don't, there could be hurt feelings and serious repercussions.

If you are interested in getting involved with someone long-term, now may not be the time to start it. Unless, of course, you thrive in the long-distance relationship, or if you'll be in close proximity to the other person over the summer.

Which brings us to our second expiration dating prospect: the summer fling. The summer fling is a central tenet of today's American youth culture. The movie "Wet Hot American Summer" portrays the summer camp atmosphere well: sexually tense, exploratory, rampant with hookups. Although other films"Grease" is probably the most famous, and let's not forget "High School Musical"offer romantic ideals about the summer romance continuing into the fall and then developing into the love of a high school student's life, let's not forget the reality of most summer relationships. The reason they work so well is because they are set up to end, to have an expiration date. The two of you have a certain amount of time to spend together, and you're going to make the most of it.

Summer flings work for a number of other reasons. First of all, you never get past the honeymoon stage, so the physical aspect of the relationship is always passionate. Secondly, the change of scene takes you out of your "I have to be doing productive things all the time" rut and allows you to loosen up your packed schedule for a few monthsthus allowing more time for you and your summer partner to spend together. And unless you've chosen to surround yourself with other Oles, you'll probably be free from the close-knit gossip circle of St. Olaf, so you'll have more freedom in your actions as well.

Problems do arise with expiration dating. The parties involved both need to communicate about intimacy and how physically and emotionally close they're willing to get in a short-term relationship. Honestywith yourself and the other personabout how attached you are to the relationship is paramount. But with good communication and self-reflection, a short-term relationship can be a healthy and liberating experience.

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