Love doctor, matchmaker, unlicensed therapist, quasi astrologist. These are some of the unofficial titles I’ve embraced during my four years serving The Cavalier Daily’s Life section.
I didn’t know what “Love Connection” was when I applied to write under it as a first-year. Entering the basement of Newcomb for the first time, having gotten lost on the three other floors I’d checked on my way down — The Cavalier Daily office is bunker-deep — and then I was given my assignment, “Congratulations! You and Jenna are our new Love Connection writers!”
My new Life editors explained that Love Connection is basically “the University’s matchmaking service.” They informed me that as the writer, I would be responsible for creating surveys of quirky questions, plugging them to the student body, pairing up students based on their anonymous responses, coordinating the outreach so the pair can go on a date, interviewing each separately about how it went and crafting a funny write-up based on what they shared.
It sounded fun, funny and strangely powerful. Granted, as a first year, it was more responsibility than I'd expected to have, but I was thrilled to greet the opportunity.
But there was a catch. The higher-ups explained that the section had been “super popular back in the day” but had since been dormant the last few years. Our job was not just to write for the section, but to revive it.
After some shifts passing out flyers in the Newcomb Dining Hall, trolling every GroupMe and reposting heart-shaped Cavalier Daily graphics to our Instagram stories, we filled spreadsheets of students’ responses and began our matchmaking journey with a myriad of rows filled with color-coded names, phone numbers and emails.
While we never did a “where are they now” series, I can say of the couples I’ve kept up with, three pairs became best friends. Another pair dated and found love for a brief stint. The rest could be married for all I know — they’ve long graduated and galloped off into the sunset.
What I loved most about Love Connections was not the outcomes of the pairings, but rather, witnessing the discrepancies of their storytelling. My favorite part of the process was always the interviews, where such discrepancies manifested. When one would say he was late, the other would say she arrived aggressively early. One would say, “I wanted to get Bodo’s but instead we got Starbucks because he wanted a frappe, which was disappointing and a bit of a red flag,” while the other said “she wanted Starbucks, so, you know, I was flexible even though that wouldn’t have been my pick.” One said she would “never go on another date with him” and, cryptically, that I would “understand why.” That “him” later attempted to interview me about my own love life.
The most memorable statements, of course, were kept off the record, when they’d glance at my recorder and scribbling hand and interject “wait, don’t quote me on that.” That was one line that remained consistent.
When the pandemic hit, the section went dormant again. Once we returned to school, adjusting to college life with social distancing, we launched “Zoom Connections.” Or let’s just say, we tried.
Finally, by the fall of my fourth year, I transitioned away from Love Connections and launched the “Heart-to-Heart” column, where Jenna and I answered students' anonymous trials and tribulations each week. Unlike other deadlines, it is one I looked forward to.
When I first applied to The Cavalier Daily, I envisioned myself running around Grounds to break the news, interviewing powerful figures or having bold printed bylines on a crisp opinion page.
What I found was something different. I don’t know if anyone actually reads my “Heart-to-Heart” column, but it still makes me feel like I am serving the University. I like to imagine that the person who wrote “how can I make friends? It feels nearly impossible,” found comfort in my words. I want to believe that the student who sought advice about navigating romantic feelings for their best friend might have gleaned some wisdom from my elaborate metaphor for the friend zone.
At the end of the day, it is not readership that will make me feel proud or fulfilled when I graduate in a few weeks. It’s that I can say I’ve connected other students in some way and brought some source of joy, even if just for one couple. As I’ve always advised students who are apprehensive about going on a date, at the very least, it’s good content. I am grateful to The Cavalier Daily for helping make those connections and that content possible. And I’d like to say thank you to the University for being my ultimate “love connection.”
Katherine Schwartz was a Life writer and Love Connection columnist for the 131st, 132nd, 133rd and 134th terms of The Cavalier Daily.