Editor’s Note: In an effort to promote face-to-face conversation about important topics, the Williams Alternative presents “Williams Alternative Discusses”–a series of on-the-record group discussions about issues relevant to campus life.
For our conversation on hookup culture at Williams, we invited Henry Bergman, ’15, Molly Leonard, ’16, Michella Ore, ’16, and Matt Hayes, ’17, to open up about their experiences. To catalyze our conversation, we used the “What Makes a Good Friend Worksheet” (reproduced below), which was sent to us by a JA, who had used it in a discussion with her entry–as many JAs had. The unedited transcript of the conversation, moderated by Quentin Cohan, ’17, appears below.
Quentin Cohan: We are collected here today now to do this. I was thinking Molly because you did this in some capacity with your entry, went over the sheet. If you could just kind of give us what you guys talked about and what the sheet is exactly and why you guys did it. What the idea of the exercise was.
Molly Leonard: Yeah. So we were doing this exercise with RASAN so we met with Men for Consent and two other people on RASAN to talk about kind of relationships in general. What was interesting about this was that it was a jumping off point for us to talk about dating violence mainly and kind of how relationships go wrong. Our conversation really spiraled out to talk a lot about friendships more than I had expected because we got really interested in like, “Well what do we expect of our close friends? What do we expect of our dating partners?” I don’t know I think it wasn’t just solely for us about the hookups it was a lot about well what do we want in the people who we keep close to us.
QC: Right. I had someone else’s JA send this to me because I’d heard about it and I thought it was really interesting, and what piqued my interest was that one thing I’ve been thinking about a lot this year is the different sort of things we expect, as you said, from people who we are just friends with and people who we are more physically intimate with because there does seem to be some sort of difference and the way we think about that does seem to lead to different behavior which I think is kind of weird. One thing in particular is what a friend of mine once said last year to me–like we were just talking about girls basically–and I said, “Oh yeah it helps to pretend to be disinterested.” And then my friend said to me, “No you don’t want to pretend to be disinterested you want to be disinterested.” Which I thought was kind of interesting but definitely not the most mature thing I’ve ever heard but I also think there is a bit of a kernel of truth to it at least in the way people have hookups at Williams. But obviously you would never want to be friends with somebody who is totally disinterested all the time and plays hard to get because that’s really weird and it’s like a really kind of mean friend.
ML: Okay so disinterest in this case is leading to successful hook-up in that you’re having a lot like you’re hooking-up with a lot of different people?
ML: So that is the definition of a successful intimacy at Williams by that conversation?
QC: Well not necessarily, but my friends point is that, in his experience, if you are less interested in the person you’re hooking up with, than they are in you, you’d, I don’t know, have more success in whatever your end is.
Henry Bergman: Would you say that person is happy?
QC: I don’t know if I know him that well to say whether or not if he’s on the whole happy.
HB: Good because I think you have, I think there’s a lot of different ways to measure “success” in intimacy. So for example if there’s the guy who gets with a lot of girls, he’s like a weekend warrior. He kills it Thursday, Friday, Saturday night but is that person actually happy?Are you seeing that person grow in relationships? Are you seeing any girls or any of their partners being like, “Man I’m so happy I spent time with that.” The question I ask myself a lot with just any relationship, is are you creating harmony or are you creating chaos for yourself and for that other person or for like your friend group or whatever your example of success is. It could be like, “Hey I have a really stable relationship.” Whether it’s intimate or not intimate. Like something as a senior, something I’ve really been focusing on is building relationships that I know are going to last beyond the expiration date in June. And some of that is, “Hey we’ve been intimate or we are actively intimatizing with ourselves or with each other but we know I’m going to be graduating can we still have something after that or is it just going to end?” And I think the fact that people attribute success or failure to it as opposed to something much more holistic; It actually gets a lot of people really upset and kind of like hurt by this whole system. Which is why I wondered if that guy who seems to be in an arms race of disinterest is actually satisfied both sexually, emotionally, and mentally.
QC: I think his goal is probably more of a quantity-based approach. Yeah if anybody has any thoughts on that specific thing or we can go to the sheet.
ML: I guess I think your story [to Henry] relates to the sheet because the way you’re talking about it you’re trying to build long lasting relationships that sound more like you should have qualities in common with the friendships that you’re making. These should be stable, kind of invested long term, ideally.
ML: I can’t think of another word besides relationships, investments. I don’t know.
QC: Either way it’s a relationship, like a friend. People tend to use the word relationship in dating situations but either way you’re in a relationship with that person, you guys relate to each other in some capacity, which is why things kind of get confusing, because people don’t ever want to say, “Spoons and I are in a relationship.” People think that we’re dating.
Matt Hayes: Are you guys dating?
QC: Right. Exactly. We’re not.
HB: That was a clap that missed.
QC: Right. So I guess just turning to the sheet then. So there are characteristics of people or of relationships and then you have to give it an A to F rating for close friends and for dating partners. A being must have and F being deal breaker. So the first one is, “Someone everyone likes”. Which actually I gave different ratings for close friend dating partner. I had B for close friend and C for dating partner. Just because I thought that I want my friends to be–it’s not that they have to be the most popular kid in school, but I want them to be liked by other people just because I imagine I’ll be hanging out with my friends with other friends also, but with dating partners it’s probably more of a one on one thing so if I am the only person who really likes my dating partner I might just not really care what other people think.
Michella Ore: I think for friends I’m not really concerned, I guess, if a vast majority of people like them. I would like some positive feedback because if they don’t have any that’s like a warning sign, but I think it’s more important for me that, not that the dating partner be popular in any sense or well-known, but to have positive feedback because I would ideally want my friends to want me to be around someone that’s going to fulfill me and bring positivity to my life. And so if they don’t feel like that’s happening, if there’s no way to verify that this person has been putting forth then that would make me a little bit cautious and skeptical but if people are liking them, if they’re saying positive things, I mean, of course, you can only put so much weight into what people are saying, because everyone has their own biases, but if it’s generally positive it’s not about artificial or face value things, but personality, I do value that.
HB: Yeah what I was going to say, I care if my friends like the person I’m with. Especially if it is going in a more serious direction, because, something I think you have to choose, but that I find to have a lot of trouble with, and I think a lot of other people have trouble with this, is where to draw the line between I need to spend time with my significant other versus I need to spend time with my friend. Like having a balance between that. And I found that the times when I can have, like if I can have a girlfriend hanging out with my friends then that’s just much better for everyone. And if they like having her around I think that could be much less stressful for my life because then I don’t have to feel like I’m choosing. I think I guess another way to spin that question is I like to connect with her friends. If I don’t like her friends that much that’s going to be somewhat of a deal breaker for me.
ML: What if she doesn’t like your friends that much?
HB: That’s a red flag for me because chances are, like if she has gotten to know my friends or something, and is like, “I don’t like them for X reason” or “So and so was a jerk to me”. Then I’ll try to think about it, but generally what she might not like in my friends–I have a lot of things in common with my friends–so I think if she’s starting to see defects in some of my other friends does she see those defects in me? Are those little? Right now they’re mole hills, will they become mountains in a month? Because earlier, you’re in that honeymoon phase in the relationship, obviously you do look past their flaws or whatever, but is that going to be an irreconcilable? I like everybody to be in love with everybody.
QC: So you probably have for dating partners something higher than a C for someone who is liked by everybody. I gave it not strong feelings.
HB: Yeah I would say a B.
QC: B: Nice to have.
QC: One thing I was wondering about these questions, some of the characteristics on here are vaguely worded, but it wasn’t important to me that these people I’m with are really popular, but obviously I want them to be people who are considered to be likable and good people.
QC: I guess if are there any other thoughts on that one feel free.
HB: No. Let’s roll through.
QC: Yeah. So 2 is “treats me the same whether we’re alone or with other people” and for me that was a must have for both. That’s just a very personal thing. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people act very differently, I mean obviously everyone acts a little differently with different people, but when people are very different whether they’re in a group or whether they’re one on one or something like that. That’s something that I just think people that are like that they have some flaws if that’s a dominant personality trait. So that was very important for me.
MH: I thought that was a really interesting question, because, as you mention people do act differently. And I interpreted it a little bit literally so obviously you’re not going to be like if you’re out with your partner in a group of friends you’re not going to be acting all, all in love and all over each other.
QC: Well there are people who do that.
MH: Yeah. And that’s a little weird sometimes.
QC: Oh I see what you’re saying. Yeah. It’s not so much that they become a different person as much as just that you don’t want to necessarily be as intimate when you’re in a group as you are when you’re one on one?
QC: That’s interesting. So in that case you kind of need someone who treats you a little differently?
MH: Yeah. I think when you’re in public this is mostly a personal thing like the PDA should, it’s unnecessary. There are spaces to do that.
HB: For me that comes down to like honesty. Like obviously I try to present my best self to all the people I can, but I know that there are certain things that I do, and that I have character traits that sometimes come out, and, if it’s like the first or second date, I’m really going to try to minimize them, or I’ll be like super up front with them, but I think if you notice a very different change with somebody when they’re with you versus with their friends that’s not great. What I find really interesting is when people are just at a party where everybody is dealing with that generalized social anxiety, that nobody wants to say that. And if that persons really different or something that’s sort of a red flag for me. I wouldn’t say red flag, that’s too powerful of a term, but it’s like a warning sign, I’ll narrow my eyes and be like, “Hmm.”
ML: Yeah. I actually think I might be the kind of friend that you hate. I think I am–I mean I’m not that different depending on the person–but like people bring out different traits in me and I think I’m someone, who, I guess, adapts to the person around me, and is like, “Oh they need this, they need this.” I think just friends need different things from me and I provide different things for different people which I do not think is entirely a bad thing. That being said I gave an A to a close friend must treat me the same whether we’re alone or with different people because it’s like I guess I change in a group. I’m probably more withdrawn in a group then I am one on one but I would say that I would still treat the person the same no matter whether I’m talking to them in a group or talking to them one on one. So it’s not like my relationship with them changes it’s just like I’m different.
QC: No I get what you’re saying. I think what you do is fine by my standards.
ML: Okay. Thank you.
QC: I guess what I was saying, what I don’t like, is when people, when they’re in social situations, because they’re maybe awkward or uncomfortable, as Henry was talking about, become much more–it’s just kind of an insecurity that bursts out into them being not as nice towards people that they were previously friends with or kind of shunning people. That’s more of a high school thing I think but obviously it’s not never there.
ML: Yeah. And I would say this question is probably geared more toward the dating partner. Like it’s almost looking for a specific answer, like do you really want your dating partner to treat you differently. I totally understand the intimacy point, and I take, and I agree with that, but you don’t want your dating partner to completely ignore you in public and then when you’re alone be like, “Oh yeah. I love you.”
HB: Something that I’ve noticed, and that I hope I never act like, is when you see like the guy be like super lovey dovey with his significant other, and then when he’s talking with the boys, he’s like complaining about her and describing like she’s like a bitch or something. Like that I find – that makes me be like, “So what are you with that person for?”
QC: This is definitely one of those things, when it comes to friends or dating partners, this is one situation which I expect the same treatment. So for me whether the answer is A or B or C or whatever, I just feel like that’s one thing that’s definitely going to be the same for friends and dating partners, because, it’s just one of those things, I want people, regardless of how I relate to them physically or emotionally, that I want them to treat me the same way regardless of how we are in a group, like how many other people are around us. I don’t know if you guys feel similarly or differently? Nods. Mostly nods. Yeah got it.
ML: We’re nodding.
QC: Number 3 then, “Likes the same activities, entertainment or interests as I do”.
MO: It’s partially important. I think able to understand why I enjoy the activities is more important than actually enjoying it. You don’t want to be with someone whether it’s a friend or a partner that’s just going along with it for the sake of making you happy because eventually that will bring you both down but they have to understand where you’re coming from. I think at the very least because that’s one, that’s getting to know you more, and, two, it’s just a less limiting.
ML: I would say I hope that entertainment includes humor because to me that’s kind of the main thing that I want in common with both my close friends and my dating partners, and, more than that, the same values. I want our senses of humor to align and our values to align and apart from that I don’t really care how they spend their time. It’s just important that we can share those things.
QC: Yeah. I totally agree with that point about humor. I feel like what determines whether you’re friends with someone is almost entirely based on what sort of things you find funny.
ML: Especially in college.
QC: If you can somebody else can’t laugh about the same things, because that’s such a powerful bonding mechanism, that if you can’t laugh about the same stuff it’s hard to be around each other for extended periods of time. So I totally agree with that. I don’t know if entertainment does, but we can add that in, “likes the same sense of humor”. I thought this was more important for friends then for dating partners. I don’t really know exactly what they mean by activities, entertainment interests.
ML: Yeah this is the type of question that I don’t think is very well phrased.
HB: Well what I was thinking, especially with like dating partners, I think it’s really important to have willingness. So for example I play rugby, and most people have never seen that or heard about that, but it would be really great if you could come support me at my game.
MO: So acceptance of your activities?
HB: Yeah, exactly. For instance, a capella is it’s not my favorite type of music in the world, but if you’re like, “Hey could you come watch me sing?” “Yes. I’m going to go watch you sing. I’m going to do that to support you because that’s something that you enjoy.” Like open mindedness or I don’t know something I always think about is if I could ever seriously date a vegetarian or a vegan because something I love doing is going out and trying new foods or like going out and having fun restaurant experiences or trying to cook new things. I would be very into cooking some crazy tofu or something or whatever or like some awesome quinoa or something that’s cool but if you’re like, “No we never can go out for Sushi,” even if that person is eating vegetarian. Once you start to cut things out of my life to please your own sensibilities and not have any open mindedness or willing to compromise that is a negative.
QC: And that’s something that would probably never really come up with a friend. You’d kind of find a way around it.
MO: You’d go with another friend.
HB: Yeah. With a different friend. I am fine with vegetarian friends, that is great. I am not going to call you up to go eat barbeque. I’ll call you Quentin.
QC: Thanks man. You know I’ll get barbeque with you whenever.
QC: I think it would be hard to be very good friends with someone who has radically different interests in activities with you then you do. Obviously not all of my friends are interested in the same things I am, but I think at a certain point you need some sort of common ground where as with a relationship, people that you’re dating, there are other things involved then just talking about football.
HB: Or rugby.
QC: Or rugby or barbecue or whatever it is.
ML: And that’s where I’ll respond and I’ll say I’m a JA, but the entry system brings people together that don’t necessarily have anything in common besides a living space and makes amazing friendships out of that. And the question is through the rest of your Williams career will those friendships last because you’re no longer living together. It’s like what do you have in common anymore besides the important shared experience of a year. So some of my friendships have lasted from the entry but a lot of those people I already have a ton in common with and we have a ton of common friends and we have very similar backgrounds. I think you bring up a good point.
QC: I said there are ways to bond with dating partners other than through shared interests, obviously, but with friends you need something and if you don’t have the humor base and you’re not living with the person then at a certain point you kind of need something. Yeah so I gave that an A for close friend–although that could probably be a B.
ML: Nice to have.
QC: Yeah, nice to have.
ML: The humor is an A for me.
QC: Humor definitely an A the other stuff just common shared interest is nice to have but it’s not necessary. And then I gave it B/Maybe C for dating partner.
QC: Number 4, moving on is, “Gets jealous when I talk to other people.”
QC: Just an immediate no from Michella.
MO: That’s a bad grade for both of them.
QC: That was definitely the thing that did the worst on here for me. I did F for close friends a deal breaker and then I gave a D for dating partners just because for dating partner there’s obviously a much stronger emotional connection. So jealousy is a little more understandable but for friend you don’t want to necessarily be that emotionally invested in somebody if they would get jealous when you’re talking with other people.
MO: I see two problems with it. One is that, interacting with people, is I see it as a moment for growth. So when you’re interacting with people you’re learning, having a new experience, learning more about yourself, other people, yada yada, and for someone to not want that is problematic. It’s like they’re hindering that self-growth, which is not okay. So if someone has a problem with that then I don’t see where you could go with that relationship whether it’s a friend or a significant other. And then with a significant other I think it takes on a greater toll because I guess with a friend you can be more understanding. It doesn’t seem like it would be such a definite cut off thing but with the significant other you kind of hold them to a higher degree than you do a friend and if they do that it’s weird I don’t know.
QC: The reason I had a worse grade for close friend is because you can be, I can be close friends with someone and be talking to other people and then can bring them into the friendship I have with the other person. We could all be friends.
MO: Exactly. We can all be friends.
MH: You can do that with a partner, its just less successful.
QC: It’s just dating partners tend to be monogamous, where friendships, for the lack of a better word, are polygamous. That you can be friends with multiple people at the same time. So if someone is trying to be monogamous friends with me that’s kind of weird. There’s no reason why we can’t all be equally good friends.
MO: That’s a dating partner at that point, not just friends.
ML: I do think I kind of have problems again with how this question is worded because I think it seems so absurd with the close friend example, like close friend getting jealous when you talk to other people, that just can’t happen because you’re going to talk to other people. There’s something about–I was talking about this with some people in my entry a couple of weeks ago– about there’s something about jealousy, a little bit of jealousy in relationship is like it’s almost like a healthy competition. It’s not necessarily a totally negative force in a relationship. I think I’d be interested to hear a perspective against that from somebody.
MH: I agree. I think it’s less about the jealousy itself but it’s more about how the person handles it and how much it comes up. Like if you’ve been–say you’re talking to one friend like particularly frequent number of times and then you’re partners like, “Oh you’ve been talking to this person a lot.” But they’re not immediately pointing fingers and stuff. Like that will happen, people get jealous. And it’s about just handling it in a mature way and if you’re partner can’t handle it in a mature way then they have still got some growing up to do.
MO: I think gender plays a kind of big role in it. I think that a lot of people have like different responses. Like if I we’re hanging out or talking to people with my partner, like if it was a girl, how he would feel as opposed to it being a boy. I do get what you’re saying about having a little jealousy can actually be positive because it shows that the person cares enough to want to “fight” for you. You don’t want someone that’s too complacent with you talking to anyone because it’s like, “Do you feel like we have anything where you just go forth and do your thing” but yeah.
ML: I do want to specify that in the situation I was talking about it’s a dating partner being jealous of a potential sexual relationship that could happen. Not like a dating partner being a little jealous of a friend, that to me would be a stranger situation, I think, because that’s more of them trying to monopolize your time, which to me is like a whole other problem, but I do think that this issue of, “Oh I feel wanted,” Jealousy can sometimes affirm that. A little bit of jealousy.
HB: I was going to say part of me wishes that I were like, “Yeah if they’re jealous that’s totally over bearing.” But I know I get jealous. I remember my freshman year here I was seeing somebody and I knew there was like this other guy who she had sort of dated and he came up to her and was talking to her at a party and I knew he was maybe still like in the picture. I didn’t know what he was going for or what his intentions were.
ML: Your imagination was just running wild.
HB: Yeah. I was doing that but then I was like this guy I’m totally seeing him as a threat. I was like, “Yo I’m fine, be friends with him like grab lunch with him but where there’s alcohol involved or if it’s at like a party I would really appreciate if you kind of like shut him down or something because I trust you, I don’t trust him.”
ML: That’s really true. I think you have to make sure that you’re still placing trust in your partner. It’s maybe the other party that you don’t trust.
HB: And some people are like that’s such an over-protective move. I’m like, you know what, for that moment I wanted the competition. My partners, they can date whoever they want, but, if you’re dating, me don’t be out getting drinks with a guy you slept with several times.
MO: You don’t want to be naïve. You want people to go for it and be free but not too free where it’s like disrespectful to the person.
HB: Yeah or if you blow me off to hang out with an ex or something that can be, being on the receiving end of that, that’s a really uncomfortable feeling.
QC: One thing I’ve been thinking about this whole exercise, that some of these questions, the way you have to think about them is a little bit different for friends versus partners. This isn’t necessarily the perfect example of that but some of the other ones are. And I think that also just highlights that there’s different expectations for friends versus for dating partners, which I think is the really interesting thing because obviously everyone wants to be treated respectfully and be considered and all that sort of stuff, but at the same time some of the stuff, I feel like that is much more obvious with friends. That you’re not going to be friends with someone who is totally disrespectful to you all the time. But people are obviously in romantic relationships with other people where there isn’t that quite as healthy a balance as there is with friends. So if we can skip ahead, one that really heightens the difference between the way you have to think about some of these is number nine which is, “doesn’t pressure me about sex”. Which I mean that’s a huge thing. I put that as A for both parties but the way I think about them is totally different. As I was saying to Molly a little earlier, if you’re close friends the stress is on sex. I don’t want my friends to be pressuring me about sex just because I don’t want to have sex with my friends, boys or girls, because they’re my friends. But with a dating partner I probably do want to have sex with that person, I just don’t want to be pressured into it. So the emphasis is on pressure. So even though they’re both A’s, or must have not being pressured or pressuring is a deal breaker, the way I think about that is different because I have different expectations for both groups.
ML: I think I actually read it differently for the close friend example. Like I thought of it as, don’t pressure me about sex. Like don’t pressure me to tell you about me having sex, to tell you about my sex life. Don’t pressure me to share that information with you.
QC: That’s very possible.
HB: Yeah that’s how I read that.
QC: That’s a very fair reading.
HB: So it was like, if somebody would be like, “Oh I saw you were talking to so and so on Friday night what happened there? Did you go home and get it?” And I was like, “Know what, my business is my business. If there’s something I’m going to tell you, I will tell you, but I don’t need you to be living vicariously through me or really prying into my business.” Because sex involves at least two people. So we got to be open. We’re at Williams college, you got to be inclusive but like that’s also–so whatever I tell someone else that’s also someone else’s business I’m telling them. And they might not want that business told. You know what I mean.
QC: So then the question is a little bit different. I feel like for close friends it’s don’t pressure me about revealing intimate details, or respect my privacy, my emotional privacy, whereas I guess with dating partners it’s respect my physical privacy.
MO: Well I think you could read the question the same way for dating partners too, “Doesn’t pressure me about sex, doesn’t pressure me about my past sexual history, doesn’t pressure me about–” I can’t think of another example besides past sexual history–but it’s still doesn’t pressure me to talk about sex. You can still read it as that.
QC: That’s interesting. Point being, though, the fact that I read them as having different meaning for the different people just shows that we have different expectations, or at least I think we have different expectations, for the way we deal with friends versus dating partners.
HB: You’ve been thinking a lot about having sex with your friends.
QC: I have not–except you Spoons.
HB: I’m good man.
QC: Okay we’ll get back in order. So number 5 is, “Is someone I can talk with about my feelings”.
MO: That’s important.
MH: Definitely. I’m not going to say definitely for friends though, because there are a lot of close friends that I’ve had that have been mostly though a professional or relatively narrow spectrum and I still consider them very close friends. They’re someone I spend a lot of time with, they’re someone that I do a lot of stuff with but they’re not the person that I’m talking to about problems about my life, problems about girls, and problems about anything.
HB: Just feelings in general.
MH: Feeling’s in general exactly. Whereas with your dating partner obviously you’re going to want someone with whom you can open up emotionally. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory, but it’s not always the case for close friends, but my closest friends have always been people that I’m open, that I share basically everything, with.
ML: Can you be close without sharing that? Like can a close friend be that close if you’re not sharing your feelings with them.
HB: I think so. I don’t know, and I think this is something that gets definitely down to a gender divide a little bit. I have a lot of guys who don’t talk about feelings with guys or with their guy friends. And something I really try to do, and as a marker of a lot of my relationships, is, do I get comfortable enough where I can have like–especially with my guy friends–do I talk about feelings with them or do I talk about my anxieties. Whereas I have always been this way–I feel much more comfortable talking about feelings with my friends that are girls.
QC: Yeah I agree with that.
MH: Yeah definitely.
HB: With that said, I don’t believe that rule hard and fast, but I think there’s sort of pressure, especially amongst groups of guys, like on teams, to not talk about feelings. If there’s a group setting at all to be not emotional or like suck it up or something. I think it’s a double edged sword. For instance if I’m like at Rugby practice, I’m going to talk about Rugby more, talking about your feelings and stuff while we’re practicing and trying to get stuff done, I completely understand we don’t need to do that. We’re here to accomplish something. For example, with that said, if you want to use that team as a space, I really like how it’s become more of a supportive one when we aren’t at practice.
QC: I gave close friend B–so nice to have. Whereas dating partner A. I think the A for dating partner is pretty self-explanatory. You’re not really going to go anywhere if you’re not emotionally invested in the person, but for close friend it’s nice to have and your closest friends you generally do have someone that’s more resembling an A. But to what Molly said, she was wondering if you could be close friends with someone who you don’t have that sort of emotional strength with. I think you can. Kind of as Spoons was talking about it, there’s some people who just don’t really talk about that. And I have friends who are like that. It’s fine with me. I just don’t really bring that stuff up but I still feel like we’re great friends. Though I do know what you’re talking about. It does feel like something might be missing a little bit.
ML: I also wonder, if like you said Spoons, if that’s more true for girls. If girls spend more time classically talking about feelings and if that’s true for more of my relationships with the girls.
MH: Well in your case is that the case for you?
ML: Yeah. Sorry I’m nodding again but yes.
QC: I agree with that, I think for the most part–well not necessarily for the most part–but I talk more about my feelings with my female friends than with my guy friends. We can go on to number 6 “Doesn’t make fun of me”. This is one of those ones we were talking about, it’s kind of weirdly worded.
MO: It sounds very childish.
QC: I put B for both because I didn’t really know what to make of this. I obviously don’t want to be friends with someone who is a bully or be dating someone who–
HB: Or who cuts you down.
QC: Yeah or friends with someone who abuses me, but like what you were saying Molly, teasing is very important.
ML: So important.
QC: That I’d say is more important than the emotional connection because you can be friends with someone who can joke with each other and kind of rag on each other a little bit like if someone takes it too serious you’re not going to be friends with someone.
MH: It’s always a buzzkill if you’re joking around with someone and intentionally or otherwise they take it a little too harshly and then you’re like–and then all the momentum from that conversation just stops.
QC: Also if the person takes it too seriously then they’re probably going to want to stop being friends with you also.
HB: Or that person has the maturity to say, “Hey this hurts me.” One of the things I look most for in people is their ability to say, “Ouch.” Like, “This hurts me please don’t do that again. Let’s grow from this.” Like I’m fine being teased about certain things but there are other things that if you repeatedly bring it up I’ll tell you to stop it, and if you keep doing that then I’ll be like, “What the hell? Why do you keep doing this? You know this makes me unhappy.” So I think it’s a fine line. I think that also gets back, though, to, like, then you’ve got have a mutual sense of humor a little bit.
QC: I guess just for the dating part of it, the only thing I would think of, because I wouldn’t necessarily kind of joke around and chirp each other as much with someone I’m dating, but I guess like flirtatious teasing is very important. Just trying to keep that sort of energy, but again I don’t really know what to make of that question so much. 7 is “Tells me the truth” which for both I said was a must have. I’m not going to be friends with someone or be close with them at all if they’re not going to be honest with me. And I don’t mean they necessarily have to tell me everything they think obviously.
MO: Truth about yourself or what’s going on?
ML: I think sometimes I want to be lied to a little bit.
HB: What’s an example?
ML: Not lied to, but I think there’s certain times especially when I’m asking for advice from my close friends, where I think they know that there’s a certain answer that I want to hear and normally they will tell me that answer.
QC: I feel like your friends should be the ones to tell you what you don’t want to hear because they know that you’ll still want to be friends with them. It’s not going to destroy everything.
HB: So here’s a question, “Does this dress make me look fat?” What do you do in that situation?
MO: Constructive criticism. You don’t say, “Yes that makes you look fat.” But “Perhaps there are other dresses that–”
HB: “I think you look better in.”
MO: “That highlight your attributes better.” Honesty but in a very polite way.
QC: You don’t want to be a dick.
MO: Exactly. Honesty does not mean being crude.
MH: “I think you look better with that dress on the floor.”
QC: That’s what you say to the dating partner or to the friend?
QC: I guess just for me again I don’t need someone to say to me, “Like wow Quentin I just think you’re really ugly and dumb.” I don’t want my friends to be that honest, but I do want my friends to tell me–say like I text Henry, “Do you want to go to the Clark this afternoon?” I want him to say, “No that doesn’t sound very interesting–”
MO: Not make up some elaborate lie for why he can’t go.
QC: Yeah. I don’t care that much about if he doesn’t want to go to the Clark but what I would be upset with is that he would feel the need to lie about that and the truth–it goes to the same thing for dating partners. I just don’t want people who are going to lie to me.
MH: Yeah. And I though it’s interesting the example you brought up, “Quentin you’re ugly and stupid.” That example. The problem that I found that isn’t that it’s honesty, but that’s just plain rude.
QC: Yeah, it’s just mean.
MH: There are ways to be honest without being rude and I think when we were younger we were all taught to tell white lies because usually what we were saying was rude, but then we just got in the habit of lying a lot.
HB: I wasn’t taught that.
QC: You guys didn’t have white lies class in school?
MH: You guys didn’t have white lies? Like your parents were never like–you’ve never seen the classic example of the little kid being like, “Mommy why is that lady so big?”
HB: Not all of us are confirmed Catholics.
MO: I’ve been told to balance out the pros and cons, and if the pros are fudging the truth a little or will make the person feel better than kind of go. I don’t know, I think I’ve seen that on TV and read about it. I don’t think I’ve ever been personally instilled with that by an individual but I think as you grow older you learn you can say it in a nice way–the truth. There’s no need to even white lie. Who has time for white lies because then they’re going to get back to the root of the problem and they’re going to be looking at you.
HB: Or a phrase that I’ve been taught is, ” True but unhelpful”.
QC: That’s a good phrase.
HB: Like you might be right, true, but are you creating harmony or chaos? If you’re creating a lot of chaos with your truth you might just want to hold it back.
ML: I think that’s what I mean with the close friends. Like there’s certain truths that you don’t necessarily need to say.
QC: But sometimes though those things do need to be said.
ML: And I agree with that and I think those things will be said.
HB: But it’s important to know when especially you don’t need to say those.
ML: Like your close friends are going to have flaws, that doesn’t mean you need to point them out all the time, right?
QC: Yeah. I’m just very particular about people being honest. I don’t like people who are shady, or dishonest or two-faced
ML: Dishonest I feel like is different from what I’m imagining.
QC: Again these questions are very vague.
ML: There’s no good word for what I’m imagining.
ML: Yeah there we go.
QC: Do you think there’s a different expectation for the two different people in terms of the amount of truth that is told?
QC: I don’t think there should be, but I think people in more romantic situations or hookup situations kind of fudge the truth a little more.
ML: Expect more.
QC: They’re allowed to get away with more dishonesty.
ML: I think it depends on the level of intimacy, like how long you’ve been going out with a dating partner that determines the level of honesty, because I think in the beginning stages you don’t want to overstep your boundary of being the friend that tells them how it is as their close friends would because ideally they’ve established friendships with those people for years and you’re just kind of getting into the game. So you don’t want to take that all upon yourself, but I think if you’ve been going out for a while you eventually want to work with that where you have a friendship and a relationship.
QC: I guess that’s very true. So I guess moving along, this one didn’t seem very important to me but “Gets along with my family and or friends”.
ML: So similar to–that didn’t seem important to you?
QC: I don’t–
ML: You mean like pertaining to the list because it’s similar to number 1?
QC: It didn’t seem as important as some of these other topics or characteristics. I don’t know. I thought–I gave A for friend just because I want my friends to get along with my other friends. It’s kind of weird if I have a group of friends and one friend who only I hang out with because no one else like him, but similar to someone everyone else likes for the dating partner, I don’t really care whether or not–I don’t think it matters that much because I’m the one who’s spending the intimate one on one time with them so it doesn’t really matter.
MO: I mean as long as you’re getting positive energy then I think that’s the important part but if your friends are picking up on something you do want to lend an ear to it just to be cautious because you’re again blinded by the love, the affection you feel from the person you’re with, so you don’t want to be too naive.
ML: I think also, just speaking to the family point, I think I care–like I think if my family met the person I was dating and really didn’t like them like they really didn’t get along, I would react very poorly to that. Could you imagine Teddy hating someone you date? That would probably be an issue because you might look at that person differently.
MO: Is Teddy your dad?
QC: Teddy’s my brother. He’s a junior here.
MO: Oh it’s Teddy Cohan. Duh.
QC: Yeah. Right.
ML: Sorry about that. And I think I take their opinion seriously, and I can’t imagine my parents looking down on someone that I date and that not changing the way I look at the person I date.
QC: That’s fair.
ML: Or the person that I date not liking my family that’s even worse. I can’t imagine that.
MO: Ideally your family knows you the best, right. They’ve been with you since you were a baby, they know what you like, what you don’t like and how you act in situations and if they feel–I think it depends on, though, what they dislike. If it’s characteristics then yes you want to pay attention to that but if it’s like–
ML: If it’s like, “I don’t like his tattoo.”
MO: Or what he does for a living or whatnot. Then that’s something that you can kind of push to the side.
QC: All fair. I think that one’s pretty similar to number 1 also.
QC: We did number 9 about pressuring to have sex. So moving along to double digits, number 10, “Calls or texts me all the time”. This one was also was kind of vaguely weird just based on the implication. So is it calls or texts me all the time, like, this being of note because they were showing interest and initiating contact and conversation, or is the emphasis here on all the time.
HB: I think the question is whatever we want to make of it.
QC: Yeah. I’m sure these are more or less intentionally vague.
HB: Like I remember I dated somebody who really like me to text her, “Good Morning.” And if I didn’t do that she took it as like a slight and I realized–
MH: What if you wake up in the afternoon?
HB: I don’t sleep that late. And eventually I realized–I was like, yeah sure I’ll go along with it, but then it started to feel like really oppressive and I was like why are you doing this. I think calling and texting and non-personal communication can be a way of maintaining something really well but I also think it can be really invasive. I’m just like yes, I really enjoy spending a lot of time with you–this more for the whole dating partner–I love spending time with you when we’re together but I need my space and I think always calling me or always texting me, however you want to define always, that makes me get really clammy and nervous.
QC: Right. Yeah I put not good for dating partners, because, like you said, you don’t need to be with them all the time. You’re not married to this person.
MO: And even if you were you don’t want to like text them constantly.
QC: Point being that you’re not like, living with them and creating a family and all that sort of stuff that might lead to even further levels of communication, but for close friend I put C–no strong feelings–because if it’s a friend we might just be talking a lot and it can be like whatever. Like we had a conversation about one thing and then something happens and my friend texts me, “Oh did you see this crazy thing about the Yankees” or whatever. So I didn’t know whether or not it was positive or negative. So them texting me all the time could be an issue but it could also be that I don’t really care because they’re my friend.
MH: I actually really like when my friends–and by this I’m referring to my close friends that I’ve made outside of school because here everyone’s just like five minutes away–but I really like it when my friends from outside the school will call me or send me texts just saying hey. It’s not like all time but it’s just like that little thing like once a month or once every other month just little things that say, “Hey how’s it going?”
QC: “Hey I know you still exist like what’s up?”
MH: Yeah it’s nice to know like you’re there and I care about you. So I try to do that with my friends too.
QC: But once a month or once every other month that’s not all the time.
MH: Yeah that’s not really all the time. I think it would be a little weird if my friends at other schools were texting me every day because it’s like, “Dude don’t you have other things to be doing right now?”
QC: It’s also hard to keep up that level of contact with someone who you’re not very close to physically like in terms of space.
MO: I think just communication is very important. Like relaying to the person kind of what you’re life situation is, if that make sense. Like figuring out if it’s feasible for you to be texting a certain amount of times, or not to be, and also expressing what level of communication you’re comfortable with. Some people don’t like calling a lot. They would rather interact face to face or FaceTime, or what not, or texting, and some people prefer the opposite. So I think once you get that out there, it’s like less chances of you feeling slighted if a person isn’t calling you but you want that, or isn’t texting you but he keeps calling you, but you’re like, “I don’t want to like talk to you in that way.” So I think that’s really important. I personally, I don’t like being communicated with 24/7 all the time because I just like some time to myself. And I feel like there’s an expectation that builds when you’re constantly talking to someone like you feel like you have to reply past a certain point. You’re like, “Shit if I didn’t reply what does this mean?” But I’m just like figuring out a healthy balance is key.
ML: I have two thoughts on this. For the close friend example we’re assuming that we’re responding to the calls and texts, right? We’re assuming this friend is texting you all the time.
ML: I think that’s oppressive. And then also for the dating partner I think texting has become such an interesting power dynamic especially in the first couple weeks of starting to date someone or starting to hook up with someone. It’s like, “Oh should I text them first. He texted me last.” Or whatever, “It’s been three days since we’ve texted.” It’s just become this whole other nuance, very formal pattern of where we’re like dancing around each other. I don’t know I think if you do establish something where you’re just in constant contact–and like I’m glad that you have established something where you’re both on the same page.
QC: I’m actually really glad you brought that up because that’s one of the things I find most interesting about hook-ups at Williams, but also generally speaking, is that there does seem to be–like texting has a weird power dynamic. And it’s one of the things that I find strangest because, A, texting someone is one of the simplest forms of communication. To send a text takes virtually no effort but people put a lot of thought into it which is kind of strange, but then also you wouldn’t ever be friends with someone if you always had to text them first and initiate any sort of meet up or any sort of conversation, you would kind of just lose interest, and you wouldn’t really want to be friends with someone who’s that kind of weird and evasive, but people don’t necessarily feel the same way in hook-up situations–whether because of the two people involved or generally they’re–I don’t want to make too broad of a generalization–but there is somewhat of a–not necessarily an expectation–but it’s the way it goes I guess, that generally boys will initiate first. Like for better or worse that’s just kind of how it goes but that seems strange. I wouldn’t want any sort of relationship, friend or otherwise, with someone if I had to always initiate first or if they felt they always had to initiate first. I feel like it should go both ways.
MO: Also I think double texting feels weirder with a person like with a partner than a friend. Generally people don’t care if they’re double texting with a friend.
QC: Yeah. You don’t really think about it.
MO: It’s like, whatever, I’m being annoying–here’s like five more texts. But with a dating partner there’s that power play like, “Well shit I’m sending a double text now I’m being annoying. They probably really don’t want to talk to me and they don’t care.” But you’re like, “I still want to be noticed–so here.” I think like with the ideal thing is to hopefully–you text your partner as a friend where you’re not worried about the power plays and what not. Where you’re like, “Yeah I can send a double text because you know what he probably forgot, as I forget things.” I’m not going to send him five texts but it’s cool to be like, “Yo here’s this other thing.” And then he’ll most likely reply because at this rate you’ve been dating. I don’t see why he would just drop out in whatever span of time elapsed, but you know people in their heads start thinking crazy things.
QC: That’s interesting how you said there, “Texting as a friend.” And you said something similar earlier about–I forget what it was exactly, but like, being friends with the person you’re dating.
MO: I think that’s very important.
QC: No I agree. It’s just interesting how you seek different things from people you’re dating than people you’re friends with, but it seems like the goal is to ultimately to be in a friendship with the person you’re dating.
ML: I think so. I mean they’re not just any friend. That’s an important thing. You don’t want to date them just to have them fall into the friend category, but you do want to have a certain level of intimacy that you do have with your close friends, like being able to express your emotions if that’s what you do with your friends. Being able to text and not worry about all the weird shit that’s not happening by doing so, and just feeling comfortable with them. I think the dating partner is a friend but somebody you’re romantically interested in. That’s what I see as you aspire to make it as–because if they’re not a friend then they’re just someone what that you like that you kiss, that you hook-up with. Like what else is there if not a friendship.
QC: No I totally agree. It’s just kind of weird to think about. You go on dates with someone so you can be the way you are with people who you don’t go on dates with. It’s like a weird loop.
ML: I guess it brings up how much does sex change things you know.
QC: Yeah that is the question.
ML: How much does physical intimacy change a relationship? Apparently according to how our answers are different between close friend and dating partner–a lot.
QC: We can kind of just let that kind of sit there. Moving on to the next. This one I think is the funniest one on here just based on the way I was thinking about it.
ML: This one, our entry discussed this a lot.
HB: Which one is it?
QC: Number 11, “Pays for most of the things we do together”. So for close friend I put B. He’s like, “Oh I got it. I’ll pay. Don’t worry about it.” But for dating partner I put D. And this is, I feel like is something, like traditionally, if you go on date like the male figure has paid for the meal like you get a meal together. But I know that more recently women have moved against that which the way I think it should
MO: Quentin’s pockets are staying full.
QC: No I was thinking it doesn’t make it–there’s just a layer of bullshit wrapped around the guy paying for the meal every time that I just think is kind of absurd.
ML: How’s the woman supposed to pay him back?
QC: Right. Exactly. So I think it’s important that people share, but then again with a friend, it would be sweet if my friend was like, “Yeah don’t worry I’ll pick up this time. It doesn’t matter.”
ML: See that’s what I said originally and we started talking about it with my entry and like would that actually be nice or does that create some kind of weird deficit with that friendship.
QC: Over time it might. That was one thing I was thinking about.
ML: If this friend is paying for everything eventually you start to feel guilty or less then or unequal or something like that. It does create another bad inequality you don’t want.
MH: I’m going to have to disagree with you on the paying for things. I am just a firm believer–personally I’d rather pay for everything like if I’m going out on a date with a girl. Especially first date or second date because I’m presuming that one I asked them out. So if I asked them out, like this is me going out of my way to treat you to a meal.
QC: Yeah. A lot of people say that.
MH: So if I’m asking obviously I want to pay. And, just as a principal, I grew up believing guys should pay so I still carry that with me. And it would be nice. I think it’s nice if the other partner picks up the tab once in a while but–and for friends it’s less important. I think for certain friendships that deficit you mentioned would always happen unless it was super one-sided. Or you could always try to figure out ways to pay it back. Maybe not necessarily through paying for things but doing other favors for people.
ML: I think the phrasing “pays for all”–oh I guess it’s “pays for most of the things we do together”. So that’s not all the things but that’s still a lot.
QC: It’s most of the things.
ML: And as someone who was raised very much with like, I have to pay for gas, have to–my parents were very good at instilling that in us–like very good about paying people back. So I think that’s something that I could not let slide personally in a friendship.
HB: I think pay for the stuff that you plan. Like if it’s a–this is for the dating thing–like if you put in the time to come up with like a really cool treasure hunt or something in a park and like go forward and hide some cool things and then you do that. Naturally also you pay for those crafts and that’s the planning time you put in but if I ask you out to dinner or something. And I’m like, “Let me take you out to dinner and movie or something.”
ML: Her date was so much cooler than yours.
HB: No. It’s an example. That’s actually a date that I did. Anyway something that I’ve been thinking about more, and this is going towards real world stuff. Let’s say I’m three years from now, I’m in law school or something, and I’m like making lawyer money, and I start dating someone who’s not making lawyer money, so going out to a really nice dinner, to me, hopefully if the lawyer money gets to a point where that’s not going to be a huge worry for me, but if I’m dating somebody who’s doing something–
QC: You also might be more considerate on your part not to always go out to lawyer money places so that doesn’t become an issue.
HB: That’s true but I think it can be–or for instance if you’re doing a friend thing where it’s much more common to go Dutch, kind of the rule of thumb I have if I’m going out somewhere with a friend I know doesn’t have as much disposable income, especially if we’re in a group and I know I do have more disposable income, and we’re splitting the bill I’ll be like, “Oh I’ll cover tip or something.” So I think it’s like, I would say, this is something people really don’t talk that much about at Williams, is class and whether or not they’re on financial aid. Something that was just on Facebook that William’s Class Confessions and there’s like all these stories like, “Oh the weekly sushi Thai entry dinner. That’s a pain for me. I can’t do that.” And I think people, especially somebody as myself like coming from privilege, I haven’t thought about that in high school because a lot of my other friends were privileged, and it was like going to the movies once a week or once every couple of weeks wasn’t a big deal. So I think, for instance, this like paying for stuff, like just be thoughtful.
ML: I mean yeah. I would say this is also something we talked about, but, flipping the gender roles. You’re dating a girl who’s making lawyer money and the boy isn’t making lawyer money that’s just not–that’s “typical”. I’m using air quotes you can’t tell. I think that not a lot of guys would want to admit this, but like, that would probably make them uncomfortable right. So the girl paying for everything, that’s just not a situation we consider most of the time.
HB: I’d be into it. If you want to take me out. All right.
QC: I think it gets back to what Spoons ended with which is about being thoughtful. I think that’s basically the answer to most of these things.
MO: Nice wrap up.
QC: With friends, though, it seems like people are much more easily, like people put in the effort and want to be thoughtful, but I mean the same with dating partners, but when people are in hook-up situations there’s just so much weirdness and complication that a lot of which people put in unnecessarily. I feel like in a lot of situations that it makes it hard for people to be thoughtful and act normally. Which is one of the strangest things because it seems like what people want out of hooking up with other people is to wind up making new friends. Which is what Michella is talking about so why not just be thoughtful with everybody? But it seems like in some situations, whether it be paying for things, or pressuring about sex, or texting, or get jealous people just aren’t really thoughtful which I think is strange.