Q: Dear Elle,
I feel like it’s impossible to find a relationship deeper than sex. What do you recommend?
– Hopeless Romantic on Hartman
A: Dearest Hopeless Romantic,
It seems to me that you’re reckoning with the deeply-entrenched Franklin & Marshall hookup culture! You are absolutely not alone in your frustration with the inability to find a partner that isn’t just looking for sex. F&M cultivates a rather unique, palpable tension between horny motherfuckers and melancholy romantics. However, perhaps disappointingly, hookup culture does exist (and thrive) in spheres outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. My advice is to learn how to navigate these spaces with grace by honoring your boundaries.
It’s fantastic that you’ve already been able to cultivate an understanding of what you need in a relationship. Look, I love a good fuck. But, hookup culture can be downright nasty, and you need to be in a very particular (and healthy) emotional state to be able to participate in casual sex. While searching for either someone to fall in love with or to fuck, it’s important that you set boundaries and clear objectives. You’ve already accomplished this, but as you embark on your treacherous journey through the Franklin & Marshall dating scene, it’s important that you maintain your commitment to a meaningful relationship. Do not compromise your emotional needs for anyone.
Now, in terms of scouting out a potential new beau, let me lay out some (marginally) fool-proof strategies. First, I think the whole “you’ll find love when you least expect it” sentiment is slightly bullshit. Let’s be proactive in our pursuit, people. There is no shame in wanting a relationship; it’s endearing and can even be a turn-on to assert your desires. But also, desperation is never a good look. Have respect for your self-worth: your relationship status is not an indicator of your inherent value. Don’t let the frustration of looking for a relationship consume you. But, if you’re able to put energy into finding a partner in a healthy and productive manner, that doesn’t lead you to dwell on your singlehood, by all means, be intentional in your search for a relationship.
That leads me to my next point. You need to be clear and straightforward in communicating your needs. You will save yourself pain and hurt by sharing with a potential partner that you’re only engaging in relationships that have the capacity to develop into something more than sex. People will appreciate your honesty, trust me. And don’t be hurt if someone distances themselves from you after you share that you’re looking for a relationship–that means that your communication skills have worked! Rejoice in the success of avoiding an emotionally-devasting situation-ship.
Finally, in seeking to move things past sex, it’s important to consider the balance between romance and partnership. Being swept off your feet and romanced can be an incredible, fulfilling experience, but long-term relationships thrive with equity and partnership. Prioritize individuals that are receptive to your emotional needs and interested in cultivating a true connection.
Best of luck, darling.