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Not Feelin' the HBS Love

There is an oft-cited adage on dating and love here at HBS, at least among the female folk, that, “the odds are good, but the goods are odd.” I am writing an article to dispute this posit-posing-as-fact. First, I have more faith in the 65% khaki-wearing part of the population than the person that coined this expression. Granted, not by judging from the classcard photos, but those are gender-neutral misrepresentations of reality that make most of us look bad anyway.

But I have a more important point, seriously. I remain unconvinced that the odds are good. And I hope to change the game, er – odds for all us single femme fatales by penning this article (I am just fulfilling my mission of contributing to the well-being of society…).

We have learned in many classes that context is important. In fairness to guys, upon examination of the dynamics on campus, the environment can be a little daunting for men at HBS attempting to court the fairer sex.

People are so busy that you might have to schedule a (*gasp*) “date” weeks in advance. Chances are that if you participate in a hook-up, you’ll see that person getting coffee in Spangler the next morning.

In small world style, if the relationship does not work out, you will be assigned to work on a project together here or will end up working at the same company after school. Not to mention the social pressures and the reversion to high school antics that compel twenty-something professionals to torment their peers regarding affectations of the heart.

We are still taunting participants in section lovin’ episodes that happened ages ago.

At first I thought it was the entire environment at HBS that conspired against dating generally. But I thought, “Let’s give the social scene a chance to settle.” Plus maybe it was the staid and puritanical air in Boston – New York and other cosmopolitan cities are more conducive to casual dating. But then I saw my HBS classmates getting together like it was the only EC requirement.

My inbox was littered with engagement notices – from people who met here! HBS couples were wearing matching outfits (you know who you are). Not to mention – my best girlfriend’s dance card (a fellow EC) was booked through Christmas!

The last straw was getting dissed at Priscilla. Creative in costume, buoyed in spirit by the sheer volume of impressively colored wigs – I had high hopes that a semi-consumated interest would bear fruit. Though most of my friends groan during girl’s night out about the shortage of XY capital here, I was actually genuinely excited about this guy. Alas, I barely got the time of day from this heel-wearing blond-capped high- class call girl. C’est la vie, but it hurts. At least a little. So where does that leave us? Six fancy balls later, countless and unmentionable late nights at various watering holes, wardrobe changes rivaling J.Lo’s and where am I? Maintaining my eternal single-girl status, this time against my will.

I did not come here to get my M.R.S. In fact, I have been a very happy independent kind of girl throughout my adulthood life – pursuing my own lights in a no fear kind of way, happy to do things on my own. But I am actually finally ready to get to know someone better than as just a friend – to take a bit of a risk and explore possibilities. Except for this small heart-related glitch, the second year has been groovy. Graduating from the constraints of boot camp (i.e. 1st year) – I am expressing the real me these days – fab by many accounts – yet to no avail!

Given the coupledom that has set up shop in the bubble that we call HBS, maybe it IS just me. Maybe I’m weird. Maybe I’m not an admissions mistake, but a matchmaking mistake. A Love Dis-connection. But optimism, pride, and a little market research of friends here lead me to think that hopefully that’s not it. Odds are you know me, and (hopefully) like me, or at least do not find me outrageously offensive. I am an outgoing, social person – fiesta-ing ’til the cows come home, active on campus, friendly and good-hearted (I could go on). My dating track record pre-HBS was well above average – I’m not an underperforming player. So what’s up? What’s the takeaway here?

If this article were a Cosmo cover story, the title would read (since we know you guys read Cosmo) – GUYS: GO FOR IT!! Our days in this unique place are numbered. At no other time will we be surrounded by such a group of amazingly talented people similar but different in cool ways to ourselves. So make time to get to know fellow HBSers. Leave the door open for more personal connections. Take risks and do not dawdle.

If you have noticed a cool girl smiling at you in between cold calls in Capital Markets, talk to her after class. Have you recently met a fun 2nd year through a club, sports, or other activity? Ask her to get ice cream, play tennis, walk along the Charles, get a drink. But please, don’t say to yourself, “wow – she’s cute,” and one month later say “she seems cool.”

2nd semester you run into her, chat for a while, and then say “we should do something,” but never pursue anything.

I have seen this happen over and over again here like a bad country CD on repeat. Because before you know it we will be tossed out of this carefree nap-in-the-afternoon place to face the real world, with careers to manage and different demands on our attention. And you will never know what could have been.

Now I hope I inspired at least one of you to call someone like me.
1 “Date” – a social engagement between two people, whereby each person is at the very least, interested in getting to know the other person better.

October 28, 2002
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