The Daily Trojan set up a blind date between two USC students to explore the ways that love can find its start. The two participants were told to meet at the Starbucks in the USC Village at a given time and day, but were given no further instructions other than to write about how the date unfolded for this issue. What follows is an account of the date from each person’s perspective. The participants’ identities are kept anonymous. Read the other perspective here.
Somewhere, somehow, at some point during my adolescence, it was impressed upon me that I was going to experience love in college — walking around campus hand-in-hand while crisp autumn leaves fell down from the trees, having picnics on the grassy student quad, reading together on Sunday mornings. Three semesters, a blur of hookups and endless Tinder swipes later, I became resigned that my notion of the perfect collegiate love story was just like the many ideals I held about college life — naive and unrealistic. Yet, when I saw the Daily Trojan advertise a blind date on its Instagram story, a combination of boundless optimism and curiosity overtook me and I found myself filling out a Google form signing up to go on said blind date. Why not?
Time passed by all too quickly, and suddenly it was noon on a Sunday and I was scanning the doorway of the Starbucks underneath my dorm hoping that the sweaty guy in basketball shorts with his headphones in at a table outside wasn’t my mysterious date. I breathed a sigh of relief when I noticed a cute guy nervously scanning the surrounding entrance. “Daily Trojan?” I quipped. Indeed, he was my date.
We ended up going to BBCM instead of Starbucks to grab lunch, and between a dish of eggs benedict that started out nervous but became more comfortable, I learned more about him: graduating senior, psychology major, game design minor, ex-volleyball player, health-conscious gym-goer, fellow Chinese American. His open demeanor helped me loosen up more throughout our meal and I felt my initial anxiety fading away. The conversation flowed fairly naturally and we ended up taking a walk through Target following our meal and then checking into my building to continue our conversation.
The stream of words came to a halt as 2:30 p.m. rolled around. I had an essay to write and he had a Super Bowl party to attend. I checked him out of my building and that was that. My first-ever blind date was over. I hadn’t asked him for any contact information but most importantly, he hadn’t ask for mine either!
Did I talk too fast? Was I acting weird? Did my foundation flake? Should I not have mentioned that I smoked weed? Should I have signed him into my room instead of to a lounge? Was he trying to leave the whole time? I didn’t feel a spark — or honestly expect one — but I also didn’t expect a bruised ego.
It was here, amid my immediate self-doubt following the date, that I realized I was approaching this whole dating thing wrong. There was no reason to feel doubt, or be perturbed by a guy not asking me for contact information. Despite self-identifying as hopeless romantic, I had grown all too accustomed to the college hookup lifestyle of just keeping someone around for security, self-esteem and sex. At some point during my college career, it was impressed upon me that dates were supposed to end in guys asking me for sex and me wielding the power to either reject or deny them. For me, dates had become a type of meeting to gauge interest in my body and, consequently, my value. They aren’t supposed to be. And this one wasn’t but in my head, I had built it into one.
Ultimately, here’s what I was reminded of thanks to my lovely blind date partner: Dates are supposed to be for exploring. Exploring the potential of a relationship, exploring awkwardness, exploring the psyche of a whole new person and, most importantly, exploring what you want in a partner. Seems obvious, right?
I didn’t realize I had forgotten these commonly held notions until I was in the lobby of my dorm, processing the gentle blow of my date’s failure to ask for my contact information. I didn’t even want his contact information. I just wanted validation. And that’s not for dates are for (or should be for).
Next time I go on a date, I’ll hope to find out more about them than graduating senior, psychology major, game design minor, ex-volleyball player, health-conscious gym-goer and fellow Chinese American. Daily Trojan reader, I hope you will do the same.