There are three words that turn any non-interested girl into someone willing to stand next to you at a bar for half an hour, the three words that any girl at a bar wants to hear. The three words that mean more in our modern age than anything else:
“Want a drink?”
When it comes to modern love, we’re not attracted to people’s minds anymore. Now, instead of expressing their love through sonnets and poems, men text women, “Hey, pregame at the house at 10. Come thru.”
Cue the overanalysis: Does he want to sleep with me, or does he want me to bring my friends to the fraternity house? I think we are just friends, but my roommate swears we flirt when we get drunk. Long gone are the days when you had to write cryptic messages because you wanted to sleep with the queen and didn’t want to be beheaded by the king.
Some define courtly love as a situation that needs three to tango: a woman and two men. I am currently standing next to man number two at the bar, who just offered to buy me a drink.
Man number one — a regular hookup — is across the bar.
I came to this tiny bar, packed with hundreds of students, because I was hoping to go home with him, my regular hookup. He’s currently staring down me and the guy who bought me a drink. We’ve been hooking up for weeks, yet neither of us can exchange more than common pleasantries this evening. On opposite ends of the bar, we glance over at each other — his brown eyes locked on mine throughout the evening. As I go outside to smoke a cigarette, the hookup follows. Back and forth, back and forth, we play this game all night long.
When I had first arrived, I saw my hookup talking to some unknown girl at one of the tables against the wall. My mind began to race, and I started to criticize her, listing fault after fault in my head. I had to one-up him, I thought, and happily accepted a stranger’s offer to buy me a drink.
Maybe our modern courtship is just a game, one in which we use people in the bar as pawns to make other people feel something — jealousy, anger, fear — in their drunken stupor. My hookup watched as the boy I’m with at the bar handed me a drink. And I watch as my hookup grabs hold the hand of the girl he was talking to and leads her out the door of the bar.
“Hey,” I turn back to boy who bought me the drink. “What do you say we finish these drinks and get out of here? It’s so loud and I’m honestly exhausted.”
“Yeah.” His face lights up with excitement for the first time all evening. “I’ll call an Uber.”
“Perfect,” I say. “Chug.”
He thinks that I’m excited to get out of there. He does as I say, and I lead him out the door, his hand in mine. Together, we walk past my hookup. My eyes dart down to see him holding the hand of the girl he led out the door earlier. His face contorts as we walk past.
“Oh, hey. How has your night been?” I say with a half smile.
“Fine. You heading out?” he asks as he gestures to the boy.
I nod and watch as he gets into the Uber with the girl. I go to help the boy who bought me a drink figure out which car is ours. My hookup and I pretend that we didn’t get into an Uber together last night.
“Hey,” the boy who bought me a drink says. “I think this our car.”
Before I can respond, another girl interrupts me.
“Hey,” she says to the boy with me. Her face is contorted in the same look I received from my hookup seconds earlier.
It seems as though I wasn’t the only one playing a game tonight.
This is what modern love is. Instead of jousts, we run over people’s emotions with the horses. Instead of da Vinci and Michelangelo, we have Instagram filters. Instead of corsets and hoop skirts, we have crop tops and hoop earrings. Instead of poetry, we have direct messages on Twitter. Maybe even instead of love, we have indifference.
We are expected to not care when we see our past flings flirting with other people, but then we accept drinks from strangers and end up in Ubers with people we don’t want to be with, in half-hearted protest.
That’s what modern college love is: apathy.