Dating no longer an audition for relationships

Faced with a summer of herding 5- and 6-year-olds around Sierra Canyon Day Camp in sizzling Chatsworth heat, Logan Guntzelman ’08 hardly expected to find romance. Only six weeks into the summer, however, she found herself in a committed relationship.

Far from the days of chivalry and courtship, students lead a fast-paced life: they talk fast, walk fast, drive fast. Now they commit fast as well.

Guntzelman met Sean Casey, a junior at Chaminade College Preparatory School, when she took her band of first graders to the day camp’s movie-making station, which Casey ran with his brother.

She did not talk to him until a couple weeks after their first encounter.

“I talked to him for real the first time at the midnight showing of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’” she said. “I sat next to him accidentally because two of my friends were hooking up, and I didn’t want to be in the middle of that, and he happened to be really entertaining.”

After their midnight encounter, Guntzelman and Casey became fast friends.

“It got to the point where I was staying late at work just to hang out with him—as friends,” she specified. “Except we both knew we liked each other—even our boss told us that.”
The relationship progressed quickly.

“Then one day we were sitting at work passing notes, and he passed me a note that said ‘Date?’ and had check boxes for yes, no and maybe,” she said. “The rest is history.”
After three weeks, the pair made the relationship official.

“He just asked if it was okay if he said we were in a relationship,” she said. “I was fine with all of it. I guess at the time it seemed like more of a summer thing, and summer things are always accelerated.” The two had known each other for one and a half months before they were officially “together.”

Guntzelman’s “summer thing” turned into a school-year thing come September.

Sam Alper ’07 and Chloe Searcy ’07 also began as a “summer thing.” Although they had been friendly beforehand, the two hit it off during rehearsals for the 2005 Edinburgh project.

“We definitely knew each other and were friendly for a long time before we started dating,” Alper said. This, he believes, is what made the difference.

“We sort of went into dating each other knowing we had a good time with each other,” he said. “If it’s just some random person all you know is maybe you think they’re cute.” Alper does not consider himself a fan of the fast-paced, caffeine-driven romances that appear all around campus.

“I’ve sort of never done that,” he said. “Among people I know, there’s a lot of actual dating, so I’m hoping it’s not dead. I’m a big fan of dating someone. Mostly Chloe.”
Guntzelman said she does not believe two people must know each other that well to get together.

Choices and Challenges teacher Nairy Simonyan said when she was in high school, there was a clear “dating” period—longer than the three weeks that Guntzelman had.

“When I was in high school, most teenagers dated,” she said. “There was definitely a courting period: the phone calls, maybe flowers sent, casual ‘hang-outs’ that both individuals were still too uncomfortable to call ‘dates.’  I must say, though, that to the rest of the world this often automatically translated into the couple being ‘together.’”

Simonyan believes that the rapid commitments students make now may be a product of the fast-paced lives and lack of time they feel.

“I wonder if students these days simply don’t have the time to get to know someone, so they take the short-cut by suddenly being ‘together,’” she said.

Adam Rothman ’09 and Ellie Bensinger ’09 met one week before he first asked her out on a date. Bensinger and a friend were singing a song from the movie “Moulin Rouge”—one of Rothman’s favorites—and he began to sing along. After the song ended, he introduced himself.

“I don’t think I even knew her name before that,” Rothman said. Their first date was supposed to be a group outing, but when school was cancelled due to rain, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go out on their own.

That was two years ago.

“Somewhere between that first date and nearly two years later, which is now, we became boyfriend and girlfriend,” Rothman said. “We never had a conversation about it.”

Rothman, like Alper, believes in getting to know someone well before getting together.

“I’m very kind of old-fashioned,” he said. “I don’t necessarily look down on them [people who just get together automatically]. It’s just sort of not my thing.” After all, Rothman says, what’s the point if not to get to know someone better?

“Being boyfriend and girlfriend: it’s just a label,” he said. “It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just like how marriage is really just a piece of paper. Calling yourselves boyfriend and girlfriend is just an accessory to being together and being in love.”

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