Dating downfalls: Yup, there are some

Michael Dziatko and Suraya Davis prove that Corps/Civvy relationships do exist. Picture by Andrew Thomas

If you talk to many students at Norwich University, you’ll often hear that it isn’t a great place when it comes to the dating experience on campus.

Cadet Hayley Vance, 19, is a sophomore who is double majoring in mathematics and education and hails from Beacon, Ill. She says that it’s not hard to find guys who want to pursue girls, but it’s the guys staying around in a relationship that becomes the problem.

She calls that “a male issue,” pointing to the idea that since there is a higher percentage of males than females on campus, men make it a high priority to chase females.

Vance, who uses the popular dating app Tinder, said she had gone through “probably the third or fourth” Tinder date before she met her longest relationship, which was six months. According to Vance, she has had so many relationships that there are “too many to count.”

“Some were one night stands and others I did try (to make the relationship work),” she stated, referring to the longevity of her relationships.

However, not everyone on campus sees Tinder as the way to meet someone who is interested in long-term dating. “I don’t think that’s people looking for relationships,” said Zen Taylor, 20, a sophomore and cadet majoring in civil engineering from Middletown, Del. “I think that if you’re looking for a relationship, you meet someone in class or run into somebody, (then) you start talking.”

Taylor, who has had only two relationships on campus, notes, “I personally don’t know anybody who started a (successful) relationship off Tinder.” Taylor is also not a fan of the “one-time date” idea.

“It will come to you when it will come to you,” said Taylor. “Don’t rush yourself into a commitment,” he adds, noting he considers himself to be a man of “old-fashioned values.”

“I want to find a woman, settle down, have children, ” he said – adding that, “The person I am with now is the one I am going to marry.”

While dating at Norwich has its flaws, not all relationships start off at Norwich, or even with Tinder. Some begin before students even arrive at school. “It started off campus,” said Kyle Eitapence, 18, a sophomore cadet majoring in construction management from Fairfield, Conn. That relationship lasted about a year and three months, he said, noting he had a girlfriend throughout most of rookdom. It was last summer that he broke it off with her to have “time for myself.” Now he uses Tinder for when he “gets bored”.

“Sometimes it’s just for fun, and sometimes you’re in there for the long run.” Eitapence said. “It just kind of depends on the situation.”

Eitapence might be on the same track as Taylor, as both of them are not rushing to find someone special despite their differences in approach to dating. He said he had been eager to start up a new relationship, but over the four months, he slowed down in his search.

Another students said dating struggles are similar in the LGBTQ community. He has also slowed in his search for love on campus.

Do gay men act differently than straight men in seeking out long-term relationships? According to this bisexual male student they may not. “If it’s a male, yes (it’s harder) since everyone on campus wants a hookup,” said Carlos Freitas, 21, a sophomore majoring in construction management. A cadet from Stanford, Conn., he added that if a female is gay, “it’s also hard considering there aren’t many options” because there are less women than men at Norwich.

Freitas mentions that women face the fact there is a three-to-one male-female ratio.

He also said corps men are more likely to be straight while corps women are most likely to be gay. This introduces more competition into the struggle in winning a female’s affection on campus.

As if dating wasn’t hard enough with this competition among women and men, there are also other obstacles that relate to dating for students at Norwich who are in rookdom. Freitas notes that dating as a rook is hard, and on top of that rooks are restricted in their options “considering you don’t have a lot of communication with civilians.”

There are also the well-known informal restrictions that involve dating within the corps, primarily the unwritten rule that makes it even harder for corps members to find a possible date, because it makes most of the people they associate with off limits.

The long-standing tradition is that rooks don’t normally date within their platoon or company, on the theory that your company and platoon work together a lot and it’s supposed to be a working/professional relationship. Dating or a break-up could make such relationships difficult.

However, some of last year’s rooks claim that the rook “cousin” rule is a bit much. “I can understand (real) family,” Eitapence said “but in this case they’re not necessarily your brother or your sister” – the corps term that refers to close platoon or company members, as opposed to “cousins” outside that close circle.

Taylor, for one, finds the term “rookie incest” for dating within a platoon “disgusting.”

“Vermont is a lot like Alabama,” said Taylor, “brothers and sisters are off limits, but cousins are iffy.”

“Just depends on the situation,” Vance said, “some platoons don’t care if you go after the rook cousins or rook siblings. Some do care more, I know personally my rook cousins cared more.”

Vance suggests it is actually “harder to go after someone in your cousin platoons.”

So, are corps on corps relationships possible? “It’s not impossible, it’s just a lot of work,” Freitas said.

But Taylor had a different take: “I don’t think the corps plays that big of a part of it.”

Despite all the restrictions on dating within the Corps, there is another side to campus life that is open to cadets, though explored less frequently at Norwich: Dating between corps and civilians.

“I am pretty shy so I really don’t talk to people I don’t know in person” said Kirsten Patch, 18, a civilian sophomore majoring in psychology from North Hero, Vt. “So it’s definitely more Internet based.”

“I use Tinder and sometimes Facebook, but mostly Tinder.” Patch said, noting that she had some success with Instagram and Snapchat as well.

Patch also talks about how the campus itself, being so secluded in a rural area, makes the selection process very narrow. “In a large city, you have more variety and more people,” she said.

Out of the five relationships that Patch had on campus two were corps members, she said. Patch also said that her longest relationship of eight months was with a civilian student.

“It’s sort of hard to find a corps guy who wants to date,” Patch said. “They go for civilians, but just for a one-night stand, rather than a relationship.”

Similar comments come from some Corps members about the ease of dating civilians. However, Freitas disagrees, “Most corps kids prefer civilian and civilian prefer corps,” he said, explaining that they have a “peanut butter and jelly” effect.

The idea that corps and civilians prefer the opposite community seems to be mostly a male point of view. From the female point of view, the populations tend to date within the same community, corps with corps and civilian with civilian.

Stated Vance, based on her experience as a cadet, with civilians, “They are not allowed in our barracks (or) our dorms, so it makes the civvy-corps relationships harder to maintain.”

Comments

  1. Steven P Robinson says:

    Take heart folks, one can find a good, long term relationship at Norwich.

    My wife and I started dating 2 February 1978 (she was a Rook (recognized by then) and I was Regimental Medical NCOIC [SSgt]). June made 36 years married.

    We know a few other long term couples who met on the Hill; Cadet and Cadet, Cadet and Civilian.

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