What about love?
Friendship is easy, lust is even easier, but love is really hard to find
When I first started writing Love Connection in the fall of my second year, I couldn’t wait for all the matches of true love that I was sure I was going to set up. I had seen almost every romantic comedy ever made, read every great love story and even researched some self-help love books, much to the amusement of my family. I thought for sure that in a couple years, chapel bells would be ringing for the weddings of my skillfully selected matches. As time and several horrific matches have proved, finding love is not as easy as movies may suggest. Dozens of matches later, here are some lessons I have learned that no romantic comedy could have taught me:
1. There is no exact formula to love. This realization has been one of the most difficult ones for me to grasp. I have tried to decompose, analyze and solve the mystery of love since the day I set up my first match. My attempts to work my experiences into a regression formula have been to no avail. The couple has to have enough things in common but not enough to make them bored with each other. Differences in opinion over religion and politics can spark interesting conversation, or they can go horribly wrong. Though it is easy to set up two people who will get along well, it is much more challenging to create that elusive spark of love.
2. First impressions matter. Research shows that we form a steadfast judgment of a person almost immediately after meeting them. I doubted this at first, but to my surprise, I came to discover how true this is. In a post-date interview, I can usually tell how the date went in the first couple of questions. The first impressions people recount, whether good or bad, are often indicative of how they felt on the rest of the date. On Catherine and Brian’s date, he claimed “I felt like she wasn’t taking it seriously from the beginning,” which was fairly representative of his final remarks that “it’s very unlikely that we’ll speak again.” Other first impressions were considerably more positive. On Steve and Sarah’s first date, Steve took the initiative to make a sign to identify his date. Sarah later commented, “My first impression was really good. … I thought the sign was really sweet.” She was “really impressed” throughout the date.
3. University students are not as sneaky as they think they are. Sending in Love Connection applications for their friends seems to be a favorite past time for University students. For a while, I wondered if it was on a secret list of 114 things to do before you graduate. You have to appreciate the dedicated schemers who create a new fake e-mail address to make it seem more legitimate, but it’s hard to imagine someone legitimately responding to the question about deal breakers with: “None, I’m a man-whore.” Of course, I always enjoy the not-so-persuasive emails pleading, “Please don’t listen to Joe when he begs you not to match him. The world needs this to happen.” The confused and occasionally hostile return texts usually indicate otherwise. As hilarious as many fake submissions are, I have learned that they cause more trouble than they’re worth.
1. Two people can experience the same date very differently. Remember Joe and Jessica? Joe beamed, “I was certainly getting my flirt on. … From the start we walked arm-in-arm,” while Jessica wasn’t so optimistic. She lamented that “He made me link my arm and that made me uncomfortable, because I don’t like being touched, especially by someone I don’t really know.” Many relationships can end on this basis of failed communication. While the first date may not be the time to give each other a frank appraisal of how you feel, that time will come and when it does, honesty can help to avoid some of the painstakingly awkward experiences that have played out in Love Connection.
2. Don’t take your date to O’Hill. Mediocre-at-best pizza, ridiculously long lines and Double-Swipe Dean do not set the tone for a romantic evening. When Gary took Hanna to O’Hill in December, the date flopped. Hanna commented, “Because we were in O’Hill, it didn’t feel very intimate. We both saw our friends, and the big TV screen was pretty distracting. After dinner, we walked out and said goodbye at the bottom.” Splurging a few Plus Dollars at The Chop House does not count as romantic, boys.
3. Take this opportunity! Imagine if all through elementary school, high school and college, you had submitted papers and never gotten any grades or feedback. That is exactly how dating goes; feedback is non-existent to hazy and you never really know whether what you are doing is making you more or less attractive. This is probably the only time you will ever get honest, frank feedback on your first-date skills, so why not sign up?
Frequently Asked Questions
Who applies to Love Connection?
We get many, many more girls than boys. Taking a look at recent applications, we have roughly three girls for every boy. The overwhelming majority are undergraduate students, with a pretty even distribution across the years.
How successful are the dates? How many actually form relationships?
The nature of dating is that most dates are going to flop, but we see at least a little chemistry as often as we could hope for. Some dates aren’t quite as successful as we’d like, but some definitely work out! Karsten and Breanna, for example, rated the date a 9 and 9.5, respectively, after Karsten threw Breanna an elaborate picnic on the Lawn.
Then again, many remember Laura and Kurt. After getting accused of throwing two girls to the “wolves” for setting them up with Kurt, we have set a goal to find Kurt true, lasting love. With regard to relationships, it has been tough sledding. We have yet to have a true, lasting relationship, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed for that first love and maybe even a wedding!
Why don’t you do gay love connections?
Actually, we do! We did one in February 2013 between Bobby and Jason. There are two reasons, however, why you haven’t seen more. First, in the post-date interview, both of the dates expressed the same sentiment: The community at the University that is openly LGBTQ and willing to have their sexuality in the paper is so small that they all already know each other. The second reason is simply a lack of applications. If you’re interested, please send us a survey!
What is the rating system like? What is considered a good rating?
Many of our dates wonder this and are nervous their rating will send the date the wrong message. Your typical we-had-a-nice-friendly-time-but-no-sparks date will run about a 7. However, Bobby gave Jason a 0.1 on their date and Kurt and Laura exchanged 4s, while we have seen scores run as high as 9.5. If you need some advice on the score you are giving, we would reserve scores below 3 for being stood up, slobbered on or being taken to O’Hill. Dates in the 4 to 5 range are flops, but there was nothing screaming “disaster!” Dates ranked 6 or 7 are for those mediocre, unmemorable dates —maybe cheating toward 7 if you’d say “hi” passing each other on McCormick. Scoring an 8 is generally solid, while anything above 8 indicates sparks flying, lust in the air and (hopefully) a second date. There seems to be a fear of giving 10s, which we suppose means no date is perfect.
Do you set people up other than undergrads?
We do! In recent months, we have set up several grad students, inspiring a notable increase in the number of female applicants. Graduate boys, if you’re looking for love, perhaps consider venturing a little closer to O’Hill and the AFC. We would also love to set up faculty or staff, so if your dreamy econ professor from last semester is longing for love, tell ‘em to apply! If you also apply yourself, you might just find yourselves determining the marginal benefit of an additional date.
How do you determine matches?
We are hardly experts in the field of love, but we do use a few metrics. When I was interviewing for the position of Love Connector back in 2012, I was told if I wanted the job, I’d have to match people that are in the same “league.” Before assessing your self-worth on the attractiveness of your date, however, know that we make extensive use of compatibility on the following three questions, statistically proven by dating site OkCupid to be among the best predictors of compatibility:
Do you like horror movies?
Have you ever (or will you ever) travel to another country alone?
Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?