With a global pandemic that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, how are college students staying busy and getting busy?
The past couple of months college students all over the country have been making sure to stay six feet apart from each other, but what happens when they get lonely or just want to meet someone new? With apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge, students went from having the ability to meet up with someone at their fingertips to being scared to merely talk to anyone.
They have lost their ability to sit next to one another in classes, share meals without having to worry about where the other person has been and even the ability to make new “friends.”
Students have gone from being able to see whomever they wanted whenever they wanted, to shooting their shot by sending a private message to that cute person in their Zoom class… which is then accidentally sent to everyone in the meeting.
Times are changing and the so-called “dating” and “hook-up culture” that comes with the college experience is as well. Students are now urged to keep their circles tight and to keep from meeting new people, but at college students’ ages they are prone to getting lonely.
Students at Cal Poly have been staying as safe as they can, but when it comes to fulfilling some “needs,” students vary on their outlooks on what it means to “meet-up” or “hook-up” during this uncertain time.
There are two main outlooks that seem to be a reoccurring. First, many students feel that before anything happens, even the initial meeting, the person must be either tested or a full examination on where they have been, as well as who they have surrounded themselves with.
For others there is a more relaxed approach, in which some students don’t care or simply care less. Many of these students have the view that the meeting may be a one time thing and if the person seems healthy enough then “f**k it” because some students need to “satisfy their itch.”
Satisfying that itch has a lot of different meanings for students and relieving it may lead to a new relationship or sadly to the spread of the virus everyone dreads so much.
Joey Garcia, a chemical engineering senior, said he’d have been, if anything, more active on dating apps then ever before and actively trying to meet someone.
“During the lockdown I just still trying to meet someone because I just found myself always feeling lonely, and could only hangout with my roommates for so long,” said Garcia.
He saw himself wanting even more attention and company because being alone during such an uncertain time scared him. Garcia went on to explain that every person that they have met, either over a dating app or by other means, has asked him – and vice versa – if he had been tested as well as where he had been.
“I just really wanted to feel safe when I met up with people. I was still seeing my family at that time and if one of them could get sick because of me, I wouldn’t know what I’d do,” said Garcia.
Garcia noticed a mix of responses from people who were trying to meet up. He explained that if it’s late, no one really wants to go through the motions of asking where the other has been or if they’ve been tested. However, that’s usually how you know that person only wants one thing.
On the other hand, if the person is truly interested they usually don’t mind me asking questions or even setting up a zoom call first to make sure that the person is real and if they look and sound healthy. It was a constant battle for Garcia to not just go out for a “good time” with a “rando” at 1 a.m., but now he has found himself in a relationship with someone he met on a dating app.
“I met this girl on a dating app, her name is Avery and quarantine kinda made our relationship really solid,” said Garcia. “We were super safe when we first met and once we found out we were both negative, we started going out more. Now she’s my girlfriend.”
This story is one that has a happy ending, however some don’t necessarily go as well. A philosophy senior, Bryce Mayers, said he has gotten “low key” desperate and has met with people without even asking if they have any past connection with the virus.
“It just felt bad, like I knew the risk but I was just like ‘why not?’ But sometimes after it happens, I [didn’t] feel right and just feel gross,” said Mayers.
He said he did feel a bit “trashy” not asking where the other person has been or who they’ve surrounded themselves, but it’s been hard being alone with a house full of guys.
He ended meeting a girl through another friend that had recently become single and was ready to “toss his line.” The two had never really met except at a pre-COVID party that they both attended.
The line caught and they met for drinks at a local bar, which turned into a hangout back at his apartment. One thing led to another, and the students’ desire for “company” was satisfied, but it all came with a cost. The student, not knowing that his date had been having fun with her new freedom, led him to the virus.
“It was stupid of me to go in blind and to think that I was invincible, which I think a lot of students feel,” said Mayers.
Fortunately, Mayers got better after weeks of quarantining himself and noticed that, even though he was “satisfied,” he had learned that the risk is too high.
He explained that the risk to satisfy a desire that can be put on hold is worth it, especially if that means the safety of not only himself, but the people around him.
Everyone has desires, “itches” and needs that must be fulfilled in some way, but is the risk really worth it?
Understandably, college students thrive in the company of others and at times they just are looking to create new relationships. So as long as they stay safe and know the cost, have fun, be respectful and remember that everyone is in this together.