There is an untold and obvious distortion between the interaction of single people and couples just as there is between a sober and a drunk.
It's not visible, not palpable and yet completely undeniable. How many times have you heard your friend ridicule the cliché "lovey-dovey" interaction between some PDA couple holding hands and kissing in public? And how many times have you seen couples on their high horse waving Stephen Colbert's "wag of the finger" to a group of fun single people making noise and being obnoxious?
One side will always feel animosity towards the other, so who is the victor?
Think of dating as if the yin and yang were a time clock – one side will always prevail depending on the time of day. Let's take a Saturday night for example, or better yet a Saturday night after a game day. And let's make this a game that we actually win and before alcohol was so looked down and aggressively hunted upon.
The point: imagine a total crazy Knoxville night where the possibilities are endless. It's obvious who the victor is here: the guy 10 solo cups deep with no responsibility, no weight on his body, and the option to pretty much do whatever he wants. He is the embodiment of a completely free man who could drink too much, talk too much, hit on girls too much and pretty much completely embarrass himself and be completely unfettered with the societal expectations of a significant other.
But as that party king is taking over the attention, let's direct ourselves to the corner of metaphysical iron bars and whip marks. I don't care who you think you are, everyone has an innate desire to be the party king for the night, to be the "fun guy," and this shackled man has no hope of breaking free from his prison. He will get in trouble if he drinks too much or embarrasses himself, and although he has a cute girl with him, hundreds of other beautiful girls seem to be teasing his entrapment with flirting gestures and "don't you wish you were single" glares. I'm sorry relationship guy, you lose this round to the next degree, so I hope it was worth it.
However, the night goes on and eventually the sun shines bright as the relationship guy wakes up in full form. He is hungover, but with the presence and encouraging words of his significant other he is able to recover and start his day right. Meanwhile, single guy wakes up next to some girl he doesn't remember, hoping he hasn't contracted gonorrhea. He tries to escape but falls short, crippled by his incurable headache. But that's only the party scene, where party men roam the night, and wifed up men rise in day.
But that's not every aspect. Let's not forget the blatant screaming of relationship fights in public. Some of them are so hateful and amusing that they belong on reality TV. Everyone knows a couple that they hate together, that always fights and is seemlessly impossible to please. However, on the same note there is an equally infamous party gentleman that never stops drinking and always begs for people to drink with him. His friends all tell him to get his act together, and girls always say he needs someone to shape him up.
Beyond all the obligations, awkward meeting the family, self-reevaluation and constant ridicule from your single friends, relationships in college can be a valuable experience. Relationships can make you think differently about the world and yourself and teach you to consider the thoughts of others before your own. As well, the single life is more than just drinking and partying; it is a time to explore your self-interests and label your personal identity. Both have their merits as long as they aren't abused, and although the hilariousness of the sitcom-worthy characteristics and stories of each seem to permeate to the mainstream of romantic college comedy, the truth is that they are just life choices.
Some people like the company of another, and some people are fine with the company of themselves. If you're in a relationship, don't become the next spineless boyfriend who becomes beyond whipped, sitting in the corner of the bar saying "Can I get an Appletini – easy on the tini." If you're single, don't wake up next to an STD or the toilet every night of your life.
If you don't become the object of your relationship status then you should survive in college, which is all we are trying to do.
Cullen Hamelin is a junior in chemistry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.