Opinion: Complications in college life diminish love

Writing this sort of piece has become somewhat of a tradition for me around this time of year. Frequently, I write about politics, culture or world affairs. But every once in a while it becomes necessary to write not about ideology, but from the heart.

The cynics are wrong - chivalry is not dead. Perhaps it is on the decline, viewed as too traditional or unexpected. But as long as there is a door and a woman to walk through it, there ought to be a gentleman willing to hold that door. Or pull out a lady's chair. Or walk nearest traffic (a tradition that came from the days of horse-drawn carriages when gentlemen would walk closest to streets and roads to prevent any mud from being splashed upon their lady).

In my time as a writer I've sought to defend traditional marriage, expressed the importance of commitment and encouraged the risk-taking necessary to form substantive relationships. I've spoken out in favor of sexual responsibility and against the practice of hooking up.

Through it all, lessons have been learned and life has changed, but there have been no regrets. It's not always easy to give a part of your life on behalf of a relationship. Sometimes the sacrifice is an emotional one, sometimes it involves time, and sometimes it's both. But while every relationship involves an investment or sacrifice of some sort, that sacrifice has always been worth it. At the very least, every experience you encounter in life can be a learning experience, and an optimist can even find some pretty special memories along the way. And I've always been the optimist.

Still, love gets risky, because despite the greatest of optimism to wish otherwise, experience eventually teaches us that the human heart gets hurt from time to time. Very rarely does an individual end up with his or her first love. Instead, hearts are broken and then re-inspired and born again. But it's the risk and the broken hearts along the way that make ending up with someone all the more meaningful.

I've learned that you pick people in life, but you don't necessarily pick the situation. And sometimes the person picks you and you happily concur. But the point is that we can't control when someone comes along; somehow romance always seems to hit when we're at our busiest or at the most inopportune time. It's up to us to take the risk of overcoming that. But many loves have been lost by allowing circumstances to get in the way. We only have one life, and if someone really matters to you, you eventually realize that there can only possibly be one of him or her, too. That's when you stop worrying about timing and simply start feeling fortunate that time brought the two of you together in this world at this time.

The best moments in romance aren't the idealistic scenes we become so accustomed to in the movies. They are the short walks where both of you somehow lose track of time, the time you unexpectedly ran into each other and spent the rest of your day in each other's arms or that surprised 'for me!?' look in her eyes the first time you gave her flowers.

Commitment to a relationship can admittedly face many challenges throughout an individual's college years.

Classes, work schedules and internships are just a few of the many aspects of life that can get in the way of a relationship, and disturbances like the summer and different breaks throughout the year don't make things any easier. And of course, there is always the issue of sex.

There is a distinct difference between a lusty encounter sans intimate commitment and waking up next to a companion and knowing that the passion of the night before is but one sensual note in a grand, ongoing symphony. Sex is always a complicated topic. Some people engage in it largely for the physical pleasures it provides, some couples use it as a means of demonstrating their emotional commitment to each other, and other individuals honorably opt to abstain from sexual activity completely.

Different people approach sex in different ways. Some like it predictable and planned out, while others opt for more spontaneity. And while sex should never be so unpredictable or unplanned that you wake up the next day wondering what in the world you just did and why, perhaps some of the best sex comes when you wake up lying next to someone, gaze into their eyes, and without saying a word mutually decide that there is nothing the two of you would rather be doing at that moment than allowing yourselves to flow together with the perfect harmony of an ocean's tide lapping against a beach.

The point is that all those issues - chivalry, relationships, risk, sex - are all intertwined. They're all personal decisions that each of us face, and this editorial is but one writer's opinion. No one has the right answers but the individual who has to make them, because when in doubt, the best answer is always found within one's own heart.

Timothy Meyer is a senior in the School of Communication.

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