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The no man’s land after a one night stand

When drunk, Marie says she has no boundaries. She’s happy to sling an arm around her nearest neighbor to chat. But sober, with her knees tucked up to her chest and running her fingers through her almost-terra-cotta hair, it was easy to believe her when she said that without alcohol, she doesn’t like being close with people.

Marie, whose middle name has been used because she’s under 21, has had her fair share of hookups. A few stick out – there’s the guy from two floors below she sometimes runs into, the guy she’s moving next door to over the summer, the coworker she went a little too far with and the one night stand who tried to add her on Facebook the next morning.

Hookups, Marie said, are pretty easy to come by.

Where Marie, 20, gets stuck is in quasi-relationships, unable to cross the no man’s land between a hookup and a commitment.

She’s not alone. Women make up 63 percent of Loyola University Chicago’s student body, and, like other universities with similar majorities, many of the young women have a trouble with long-term relationships.

But unlike other young women who find dating difficult, Marie doesn’t think the issue lies solely with Loyola’s male-female ratio. With the whole city of Chicago at her disposal, Marie said the problem isn’t finding a man; it’s finding a good man who will stick.

With her high, broad cheekbones and eyes that flit between blue, gray and green depending on what she’s wearing, a person would think Marie wouldn’t have trouble keeping a guy around.

“I’ve given up hope for right now because I have been heartbroken one too many times,” she said.

Marie works at a place a few blocks from the Chicago Red line stop. She and her coworkers sometimes get together after their Friday night shift, have a few drinks and play spin the bottle together.

Back in mid-December, a new temp was brought into Marie’s work. It was a slow day, and she spent the eight-hour shift training him. They flirted. He was nice, cute, caring and Italian. He was sarcastic, the one thing Marie looks most for in a guy. After a few weeks of Marie and the temp teasing each other, their coworkers started egging them on.

“If he was skating by me at work, he’d causally bump into me, making it totally obvious to the point where everyone at work would just be like, ‘Seriously?  Just go out already,’” Marie said, running her fingers through her stick-straight hair again.

The pair would hang out at Marie’s dorm. He’d cook Italian food, and she’d make strawberry margaritas throwing real berries into the mix along with a few bananas. They saw each other for a month or so, and then the temp told Marie that he couldn’t commit to her because he had just gotten out of a relationship.

Marie’s margarita mix; by Liz Greiwe

She later found out he had only been on a break with his girlfriend during the time he was with Marie.

For Marie, this topsy-turvy world of wishy-washy relationships is just another part of college life. A 2007 study of 125 students by Michigan State University showed that while 60 percent of college students had been in a friends-with-benefits situation, only 9 percent of those ongoing hookups ended in committed relationships.

Some Loyola students do see the female majority as a hinderance to healthy dating.

With his boat shoes, straight-leg jeans and glasses, Alfonso keeps his look clean-cut to backup his fraternity vice president credentials. He’s run into a similar dating situation as Marie, or as he explained it: “I’m with but not with someone.”

Alfonso, whose middle name has also been used, pointed out that having a ratio of roughly two girls for every one guy has shaped the hookup culture at Loyola and other universities.

“Girls kind of view dating as a no-hope, like you’re not going to find someone here,” Alfonso said. “So then they just resort to hooking up because it’s easier than trying to find someone that you’d like to date.”

Other students have turned to the Internet for help.

Following in the footsteps of Facebook pages like LUC Secrets and LUC Love Notes, a few Loyola students created the LUC Connections page. The premise is simple: students send an anonymous message to the page including a codename, a description of themselves, a description of the person and type of relationship they’re looking for and an email address. Created four weeks ago, the page has 174 likes and 32 anonymous posts.

Here’s a typical post:

“GraduatingSenior: I’ve made it through 4 years at Loyola without seeking a relationship. I’m a girl, graduating in May, looking for a guy who can change my mind before I’m gone from Loyola. Email me.”

But for Marie, who likes reading medical mystery books and plans on being a detective one day, that’s not something she’s interested in.

A month after things fell apart for Marie and the temp, he came around again asking for a second chance at something more serious. They “did the whole dinner thing, the dating,” and then the temp shirked away from committing to Marie again. He didn’t think she’d care.

“It’s been a lesson that people don’t change,” said Marie as she picked at her nails. “You shouldn’t trust people. The definition of daddy issues, that’s what I am.”

She picked up the pieces with some Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy ice cream, sweatpants and a sweatshirt, and self-effacing songs on Youtube like Air Supply’s “All Out of Love.” But she was ready with a firm shake of her head and a definite “no,” when asked if she’d ever get back together with the temp.

“And not just because there are probably 14 people who would skin me alive,” Marie laughed a little at herself.

At a certain point, Marie just had to get over him. She said to herself, “Alright. Happy music. Dance party. Let’s do this.”

By Liz Greiwe




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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.