Mixed Drinks (and Signals): How Alcohol Blurs The Lines of College Relationships

Alcohol and parties can make college ‘relationships’ out to be a lot more than they actually are. Being a 20-something with seemingly endless amounts of energy, the world is our oyster – but how much is too much? What can we consider a “healthy” relationship, if all we have to compare it to is drunken hook-ups in club bathrooms?

Everything about the modern college hook-up culture seems to blur the lines that once were very clear in our minds: this is what a “relationship” is, and this is what everything else is. When alcohol is involved, there are too many instances of miscommunication or confusion over what you “are” to each other – and that’s the dreaded question, isn’t it? “What are we?” is the question that we all seem to ask, but can never find the right answer to.

The excitement of exploring the world, and learning about others and ourselves can turn the experience of being a student into a whirlwind. It can often lead us to misunderstand “commitment” and how we feel about it: sometimes it’s exactly what we need, and sometimes it’s exactly where our relationship is not headed. So how can you tell?

It usually starts off something like this: you both hang out in a huge group of fun-loving, like minded people who love to (insert favorite pastime that ties your group together). You’re always together, and you’re both relaxed because you’re with your friends. Then, a party comes along, you both get drunk and you hook-up. What does this mean? Can we still hang out as friends? Are we friends?

I think the most important and most necessary thing here is communication. First, communicate with yourself. What do you want? What are you looking for at this point in your life? Now, consider where his head is. Then, communicate together! It seems straightforward, but it can be terrifying. Despite what you might assume about his feelings, you realistically could not know him at all. This is something important to remember: you could be infatuated with a person you don’t really know. This is something really unique to the Gen-Y hook-up mindset, because when you involve alcohol, you are altering your world into something very far away from reality.

Aside from communication, you have to be aware of all the different possibilities of ways this could go. Like I said before, you could love the idea of having a relationship or falling in love, but he might not be the right person for you. On the contrary, you could be downplaying the encounter(s) because you met at a bar (or Tinder, for that matter). I can speak from personal experience when I say that where you meet means next to nothing – what matters is what comes next! He could just be looking for a hookup, and you could be okay with that, but time and time again, it’s been proven that a hookup is never really just a hookup.

As long as there is a continuous flow of communication, and you are aware of the chances you are taking every time you act, crossing back and forth across the line between lust and love is essentially what college is all about. It’s the perfect time to figure out who you are, who you want to be and what you crave from others. It’s also an excellent time to live by the saying, “whatever happens, happens.” Don’t be afraid to go with the flow.

Featured Image via screengrab of Walk of Shame

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