A Romance That’s Extra Zesty

What a TED talk about Prego (and consumer choice) taught me about love.

Comments: 134

  1. " I didn’t want to give him an ultimatum. I just wanted him to ask himself, honestly, how he felt. Are we going to do this thing? Or does he want to chicken out?"

    Duh - you gave him an ultimatum. It worked. Good thing you put your foot down, and I wish you all the best!

  2. "I didn't want to give him an ultimatum" is the just the latest version of waiting at home for the guy to call.

    Recognizing and being able to say what you want -- whether you are male or female -- is necessary to growing up and being happy. Of course there's always a chance you won't get what you want, but that is not always a bad thing.

  3. Sex is not peanut butter. Without the hope or bother of experiencing actual feelings of intimacy, the hook-up culture seems empty and meaningless.

  4. Maybe not. But I suggest you try it with peanut butter before you knock it.

  5. Oh Modern Love, sometimes you're so on the mark. And other times, usually when you run a column about the vacuity of the hook-up culture, you are miles from the mark. (Or is this a desperate play for Generation Z readers?)

  6. Can't be for Generation Z readers, because most of them don't read beyond 300 words - at least that's what my millenial editor tells me.

  7. thank you.

    i left a similar comment.

  8. The article deserves a COMPLETE reading, rather than finding a few trigger phrases that get your indignation or dismissing engines going, and leading you to pass judgement.

  9. Maybe I was lucky in love but I just never understand all the cajoling of a person to be in a relationship with another person.

    Just as sex is happening because there was a mutual understanding, a relationship should happen naturally with the same understanding. This usually starts with simple communication of knowing each other prior to having sex even if the sex is one night stand.

    When people wear too many masks and never ever reveal anything honest about each other, they end up over thinking does he or she like me or wants relationship with me?

    Would not be just easier to state what you want at one of those dining or walking around and ask if the person wants similar things in life....

    I would be too embarrassed to cajole or beg or manipulate a person to commit to me. I would rather state what I want ask if he agrees and take his word for it.

    It is OK to be friends rather than trick each other for commitment and have s so many anxiety.

    Maybe I am just too authentic and blunt for the average.

  10. You've been lucky in love.

    I stand on the other side in disbelief of those who have mutually fulfilling romantic experiences where one side isn't always hemming and hawing about their level of commitment to it.

    I'm rarely cajoling the other party to commit - rather, I'm begging them to leave me alone if they don't respect what it is I want out of relationship (which is fairly traditional) so I can find someone who doesn't see it as a problem. Currently in the throes of this, so this hit home with me.

    In my experience, blunt and authentic only serves to increase the hesitancy to commit, as it demands as much authenticity from them as I aim to give - which is a tall order for some.

  11. Well to be fair, some of us may almost feel it is "too easy" when things are so fair and equitable in a relationship.

    If we've had bad luck in love, then we believe some work is likely necessary. Oddly, work becomes a substitute for the value of love itself, and we hold onto the relationship out of that new form of value--injuring ourselves.

    I fear that may be a driver for this young writer, if this relationship spirals downward.

  12. well, good to hear from someone who does everything right, and more importantly, has a partner who puts up with it

  13. i've been seeing a lot of modern love columns focused on college- aged romance. it doesn't make for very compelling reading.

  14. To say nothing of the dominance of MFA writers in magazines and the media.

  15. And she isn't even a good writer! I am floored by the number of commenters who say this piece is well-written. It isn't. It's far too long and winding; the language is muddled almost beyond compression, or certainly, enjoyment.
    I truly have to wonder how this piece of drivel made the cut -- with 7,000 submissions a year.
    I'm guessing she is well-connected through either a family network of well-to-do professional and/or Yale Alumni circles.

  16. Isn't it amazing how, no matter the labels we put on things, or try to demarcate 'non-relationships' that it always comes down to that terrifying conversation where we become vulnerable: "I want to be with you, do you feel the same?"
    The answer yes marks a whole new realm for the relationship, learning about that person and learning about yourself. Despite generational lexicon, this "moment" is the same for all of us, where the friendship takes a different path. In my day it was "more than friends" but in essence, the same!

  17. The "we all get exactly what we want ...before we knew what we wanted" culture of too many options that come with too many labels but are in fact the same item with the "zest" coming from the marketing not the product--is a culture that seems based on self-indulgent introspection. Does labeling the connection between consenting adults really matter?

    Refusing to shop where 10 kinds of peanut butter or pasta sauce are sold does save energy for making the choices which matter in life. However, limiting options through external constraints is less satisfying than experimenting until the right choice is obvious! True for pasta sauce as well as labeling our connections.

    At the end of the essay I am delighted the author shared with readers what the "lovesick girlfriend" phase means to her and reminds each of us of the times it was "Yes, Yes. O.K. Please. Yes" in our own lives. Of course for some of us those times were seminars about James Joyce's "Ulysses".

  18. did not like this week's "Modern Love" column (and I normally like the ones from College students).

  19. Perhaps you feel this compares unfavorably to the other college love stories because it reads like a clunky first draft, a hodge-podge of scattered thoughts lacking both transitions and age-appropriate insights.

  20. Before I read this week's Modern Love essay, I read "Inside Modern Love" by the editor of this column. 7,000 entries for 52 published essays per year. Essays often, but not always, about "the most important story in the person's life." And I would add, "touching," in one way or another.

    I had to work, and I mean work, my way through this week's essay. By the time I got to the spaghetti sauce analogy, it was all I could do to soldier on to the finish. I kept my eyes moving only because I was thinking to myself that adolescent love, early teen-age love, "puppy" love, is certainly part of modern love and deserves its turn.

    And then, as is the case with many terrific essays, the emotional punch in the gut at the end, but with a slight twist, since the line sat just outside of the essay: "Sophie Dillon is a junior at Yale." A junior. At Yale. Twenty years old? And this is "the most important story" about love in her life thus far?

    How very sad.

  21. Your comment leads me to believe that, by the tender age of 20, your love life was a real bodice-ripper.

  22. Actually, I was truly, deeply, madly in love and married! Still true!

  23. At 20? How unusual and fortunate for you. Not everyone is so fortunate at such an early and inexperienced age.

    I hope you're not just being smug in your response.
    The "...about love in her life thus far." points in that direction as well as an attitude of superiority.

    Perhaps you're not that advanced in years, either, otherwise, one would hope you would have come to the understanding that people come to things and understandings at different times in their lives than others. We're all different people, aren't we.

  24. Unrequited love, difficult conversations in relationships, unclear relationship terms -- these are problems that everyone can identify with. I think this story beautifully articulates the plight of modern love and is relatable even if you only 'swipe right' or if you don't know what that means. Well done, Ms. Dillon and NYT.

  25. Beautifully and sweetly written.

    This reminded me of the early stages of my own college relationship a decade ago. I was very much like Kam, trying to play it cool. Today we're happily married. Love has its commonalities, however you choose to label it.

    Enjoy this wonderful time in your lives!

  26. God almighty, am I glad I'm not in my 20s if this is the typical state of relationships. I hope there are other humans on the planet in their 20s who are more mature than the writer and her friends.

  27. There aren't. The sweet stupidity of love is what defines the age.

  28. Seems like complicating life is the search here. So sophomoric.

  29. I think I must be over the hill. I just don't get any of this.....and don't want to!

  30. I hate to tell you this but it doesn't get any better or less stressful. Now you have entered into the next level.

    Are we boyfriend and girlfriend or on we on our way to the next stage of romantic life which is will we progress to marriage?

    You are a junior in college which means you have entered the age 20-30 zone. The time women wonder about being married, having kids and having a house. So your current bliss is short lived because you will soon want to know "What are we? Are we going to do this?" about marriage.

  31. I think we should stop bashing Sophie just because she studies at Yale. She found love AND got published in the nytimes, both dreams I share with her. Unlike some other comments, it's impossible for me to not be happy for her.

    Go Sophie!!

  32. Malcolm Gladwell's outliers section didn't make sense in this article. After reading many modern love articles, I realized that hooking up is one of the ways to protect our vulnerability. Unfortunately, memories of skin evoke strong emotions and there are two options- commitment or walk away (serial hook up). Ironically, people will get hurt in either of these processes. So, hurt is real. Embrce it, dont be a coward.
    www.mausamkalita.blogspot.com

  33. No disrespect to Ms. Dillon, who is a very good writer, but about a year ago I threw out everything I wrote chronicling my romances at her age, because they were so incredibly silly and none of them had anything to do with love.

  34. No disrespect to Nancy, but your use of the word "love" and even your suggestion that with age our insights become less "silly" and have something "to do with love" is awfully self-congratulatory and a little simplistic. "Love" is an even more inadequate term than plain-old "tomato sauce" turned out to be for the Prego company.

    "Sanskrit has 96 words for love; ancient Persian has 80, Greek three, and English only one. This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. Eskimos have 30 words for snow, because it is a life-and-death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately. If we had a vocabulary of 30 words for love ... we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart. An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love. Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it comes to feeling." - Robert Johnson, "The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden"

    Kudos to Sophie Dillon for expressing the confusion and yearnings of one young woman at one moment in time and also for making herself vulnerable by publishing this piece. As for the Styles section editors, while you have room on your 18 pages for Sophie's writing, you need more diversity, complexity, and nuance on your pages. And humor too, please!

  35. She's young. Hopefully, he won't destroy her life. Good luck.

  36. Yoyoz: Or she, his.

  37. this?? is what a "junior at yale?" can manage? surely they meant junior high?

  38. It's interesting, given the option of greeting each other with curiosity and compassion or contempt, how often we choose contempt. I'd much rather live in a world where we look for the best in each other rather than prop up ourselves by putting others down. If all you have to say is a smug put down, why say anything?

  39. The writer is a junior at Yale?

    This is utterly sophomoric!

  40. Young adults remain children until approximately age 30 these days thanks to the helicopter culture that does not allow them to make or learn from any mistakes.

  41. I knew the mentality was teenage the minute he licked her face. Oy vey.

  42. how about.. an adventure in intimacy..forget the labels and age..

  43. A beautiful time in life for you, as you discover, test, experiment, and push conventionality. Society will have all sorts of expectations of you, and hold some ideas as absolutes and a test of your success in life; for example, that next up for you is marriage; that you must have children while you are in a certain age range. Yet, even at a younger age, you already know to follow your instincts, to use your voice, and to push and advocate for yourself. These are great attributes to have as you forge your identity.

  44. Thank you for being honest and vulnerable and funny. And for writing as well as you do. I like your story.

  45. I'm shocked by the comments, not the article. People seem to romanticize their past (and perhaps their present). I'm almost 50 and I can't say Sophie's description is that different from my coming of age years - she and her generation just have more labels around it. And wake up older generation! Try having a romance now. It is no less complicated and confusing. And that is where you sometimes find beauty and grace, when you stop trying to fit your feelings into an acceptable mold.

  46. Had you sent him packing earlier, he would have come back crawling earlier. Where is your sense of self-worth, girl?

  47. I was surprised the writer is a college student and thought she accurately described the current gestalt. Labels can be limiting but vulnerability is a timeless and universal enterprise. In my experience, vulnerability is safety and by being authentic you enjoy real security--otherwise you're left feeling at war with yourself. Thanks for a sweet story.

    Richard Melnick
    Author, Parents Who Don't Do Dishes

  48. If you have cajole someone to make a commitment why would you even want a that "commitment" in the first place?

  49. I really liked piece. I am sitting on the bus to the NYC Marathon reading this and it really made me smile. I hope you write more. Well done.

  50. Extra zesty? Prego isn't extra zesty. Neither was this romance.

  51. Dear Me at Ms. Dillon's age,
    You will one day be on the faculty of a Women's Studies department. You will be surprised at first by the number of contemporary women who write this, but essay after essay reveals that "self-respect" (their own terminology for not "hooking up" before there is a relationship) yields respect from men and the most fulfilling and mutually-honored relationships.

  52. I'll bounce the relationship progression off my two daughters who are at Michigan. I think the Ivy's have over engenieered this process.

  53. When she explained the many types and various names for relationships, I felt old for the first time in my life. It all seems so ugly. Why allow all this?

  54. Modern Love columns never cease to amaze me. Is it a requirement that they must include someone getting drunk? Absent the theme of alcoholism, I don't know why young writers think that being hammered is a must-include part of their life and love ruminations. Despite this author's assertion, drunk people are stupid, not full of wisdom and clarity. Invariably, I get to the obligatory drunk paragraph and think: "Oh, grow up."

  55. Ralphie, it took me a long time to understand that "Drunk" means something different from what you and I call it, to the younger generation.

  56. Not Sherlock, all due respect to you and your daughters as you noted above, they may be sparing you the reality of their and their peers' behavior. My experience with these kids today is that they get hammered more often and to a degree that is astonishing. Drunk still means drunk. Maybe they call it tipsy but by tipsy they mean what you and I would call drunk.

  57. It certainly wasn't just from my daughters. I tried to stay as informed as possible when they were growing up. No, sorry. I appreciate your attempt at clarification but this was the source of arguments. Unless you're a lot younger than me, their drunk is nothing like ours.
    Perhaps we grew up in different places as well, but peoples seem to me to be viewing the past through those rose colored binoculars. There was plenty of hard drinking and sex (others, not me) when I was growing up.
    What I will say is much more prevalent today, though it was still there then, is drugs. That is whole other discussion and not related to Sophie's innocent referrals to not-so-incapicitation.

  58. Never a shortage of judgement on the NY Times Comment Firing Range. Usually, pretty amusing.

    I appreciate Sophie's honesty and conscious living, something few seem to do these days, and I am probably among the worst practitioners, though someone far and dear to me is trying her best to work on me for that. I think I'm getting it.

    I think, to many people, these are risky and scary thoughts that they try to carefully and preemptively try to avoid, not wanting to pose uncomfortable questions to themselves and their partners, or, worse, to discover uncomfortable truths. Hence, they actually commit to living life on a type of automatic mode which works for them until it doesn't. Been there and done that. Trying to stop it.

    Others, as they honestly write, just don't get it. Hopefully, they will or will never have the need.
    The different designators of relationships, I believe, are just an attempt to classify and categorize in our overly process-oriented society.

    I commend Sophie for having the awareness and consciousness to write this, and at so young an age. Wish I had her clear and inquiring eye when I was her age, and staring deep into the beautiful eyes of real true love.

    Ignore the static, Sophie. Keep growing your heart.

  59. Exactly right. Thanks for writing this so I didn't have to.

  60. Courage? Yes. Clarity? No. It's hazy and it's a good thing. Hopefully, clarity will come with experience but again, clarity doesn't give us stories. It gives us banality of emotions.

  61. Clarity in her expression of what she was feeling and thinking, Mausam!
    I think we both know that the only clarity in human relations is that they are varied and complicated and navigating them takes enormous skill, compassion, and sensitivity. Usually comes with experience and time, though, obvious going from some of these comments written here, not a guaranteed destination.
    That's why I have deep respect for diplomats.
    Not sure what you mean by banality of emotions. Such stuff we are made of, emotions.

  62. Gosh! This is one of those times when I'm glad that I'm beyond these relationship gyrations. . .but I'm sad for my adult children. How can young people find any small level of happiness when there are so many hoops to jump through?

  63. Nicely written. I expected the author to be older.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. Are we friends? Lovers? In love?

    Couples have pondered and obsessed over these questions for centuries. Like Eskimos describing snow, we now have more words to call the variations of love and relationships. But it's just as confusing as ever. Until he or she says yes and it isn't.

  64. Dear Sophie, Congratulations on coming this far in your thinking. You will be happy in love eventually. It gets easier. Next time you write, however, you might consider tightening your narrative a bit. You know? Just so your readers don't feel they must wade through all the details like all those choices on the supermarket shelf before choosing one to take home. Best to Kam also.

  65. Column ok. Beautiful illustration.

  66. If my sons ever behave like this I'll keelhaul them, daughter too. I think the word cowardice is right, for everyone in the story. A whole generation afraid of their own shadows and their own voice and who can only do something authentic when they drink. The writer won't stand up for what she wants until a boy tells her another boy is being a coward. This is how 6th graders act, not people old enough to vote.
    - A Gen Xer fed up with Millennials who can barely figure out how to tie their own shoes.

  67. People approach loving relationships in different ways. While I would not allow a relationship to have so much ambiguity and continue forward, others would. When we decide ambiguity has got to end in a relationship varies among individuals. In spite of this, I still appreciated this love story. One caution to those who allowed ambiguity to persist for so long at the beginning of a relationship, beware the day your partner cheats. Allowing for ambiguity then is unhealthy.

  68. How the word "romance" becomes part of the title of this piece is a solar mystery understood only by the section's editors.

    I just did the math. The cost of being confused and disillusioned at Yale is right around 250.00 per day. Think of the fun, fulfillment, and experiences you could have for far less.

    Can't say I blame the poor woman. On a chilly, rainy day in November, with all that gray, severe architecture, who wouldn't be in a state of despair? You take the train to New York and as it winds along the shore you can sense the gloom from New Haven all the way to the railyard. The train moves on to Bridgeport and you feel like there's been an upgrade of some sort.

    I am so grateful to have come of age in the early 1970's. The puzzle pieces of college life were brought together in a way that was fascinating, exploratory and experiential. We were pre-jaded, pre-Mary Hartman, pre- Sex and the City, pre-users being in total control of their electronic devices. People connecting directly with people happened earnestly, readily and frequently. The few people who wanted to overthink everything got escorted over to the philosophy department to declare their majors.

    Lord help me, if I were coming of age today, I think I'd be on Amazon, looking for a good deal on a man burqua.

  69. I never yearn to be young again, and this essay confirms that.
    But "Finals Friends With Benefits" does sound interesting. Back in the day, we took a study break by going to the Student Union for a jelly donut and a cup of cocoa.

  70. OK, this makes me an old fart, but what happened to this world? How did we get from girlfriend/boyfriend to married? to hookup, friends with benefits and all those in between forms of relationships? Back in my day you had respect for your body and your emotions by not being physical with someone where there was no commitment. And, are all these young people wearing condoms? What happens after many shots of liquor?

  71. Forget where Ms. Dillon goes to college. Hook-ups happen everywhere. What I found disconcerting was the reduction of sex and intimacy to choosing a brand of spaghetti sauce.
    I have a child in college a year younger then Sophie and I hope he is making better relatioship decisons. Those of us who survived college and youthful relationships know that all those hook-ups do take a psychic toll that may not seem immediately obvious. But, each generation has to learn how to deal with opportunity and risk in sex and love.
    What I found more disturbing was the attitude towards alcohol. Getting drunk to celebrate a relative non-event and then taking relatonship advice from a guy about to passout because Sophie really believes he makes more sense when he's hammered? Is that really the moment you want ot make a decision about your maybe boyfiend? Apparently for Sophie it was and since she decided to publish this account, it is isn't a moment she regrets. At this time.

  72. gopher1, did we read the same article? The diversion to spaghetti sauce was an analogy to the different classifications of relationships and how the Prego product took off because they developed more options to allow people to choose a variety out of more defined personal preference. She very clearly used this analogy to explain how there are all these different categories of relationships and she used that to try and define her relationship with Kam.

    You are so quite on, I feel, with the "each generation has to learn.." sentence. I wish we all had that insight when we were that young or as fortunate as my clueless self was and didn't have abundant opportunities for it. Just enough to see that without love it leave an empty field behind. The emotional and psychological wreckage these casual pairings can do is considerable.

    You have understand something about terminology that kids use today. Took me a while from my own daughters, but "Drunk" does not mean what it meant/means to you and me. Tipsy to the appoint of being discernible is more like it, and you know as well as I do, that tends to melt some inhibitions in what we say. Hammered to you and I means unable to put two words together. Not to them.
    BTW, she wasn't writing about her boyfriend, Kam, in that condition. It was her friend Caleb.

  73. She is not reducing anything. She is comparing. Good writers do that. One who has a better plan is free to operate it.

  74. Gopher 1 correctly did not claim insight. Gopher 1’s phrase, each generation has to learn, prematurely omitted, “if it learns.” Not Sherlock’s comment is precise and appreciable.

  75. This is so depressing. This doesn't sound like a relationship at all, it sounds like a sickness. The woman has to press him to commit - to being a vague boyfriend? I don't doubt that the sentiments are real, they are and too typical. But so sad that this is the best young women feel they can get. Author, you're probably 19-20, focus on your education and career, dump this loser already, respect yourself. And start considering yourself an adult woman, not a lovesick girl.

  76. The amount of judgmental handwringing and pearl-clutching in these comments is astounding. It seems as if boomers and even Gen X have forgotten the fear and anxiety that infuses dating when young (and beyond). Young people have always had to contend with issues of commitment vs non-commitment and sex vs love in relationships. To the writer: I enjoyed your piece and even in middle age I could relate. Unfortunately it seems like others have taken this as yet another opportunity to feel self-righteously good about themselves at the expense of millennials, which is a sad and tiresome trend these days.

  77. I'm even older than LBZ, but I agree completely. You write about universal themes of loneliness, desire for companionship, sex, insecurity, anxiety about the future, etc. I loved your writing, perhaps because your voice reminds me of my own children (in their 20's) and my young patients (I am a nurse-midwife). Figuring out how to navigate relationships always was, and always will be part of the human experience. You have captured a particular moment in time in which relationships develop via texting, snapchatting, sexting, tindering, swiping left and right and probably a million other tech things I don't even know about! The technology is now embedded in the relationships. And by the way, as far as I know, people have always "hooked up." They just called it different things, and they felt guilty or were punished to varying degrees depending on the prevailing mores. I enjoyed this peice and am thrilled to hear from someone who is having experiences I can relate to and can also make me wonder how things will continue to evolve for our children, their children, and their childrens' children. Full disclosure: I read the article and liked it so much I did what I always do with the Times - looked to see what else the author had written. Imagine my surprise and delight to find it was someone I had met, the younger sister of a high school classmate of my daughter. bravo, Sophie, well done.

  78. I totally get this feeling, and I went to college in the 1980s. The biggest fear is asking someone if they care enough about you to commit, and declaring the same. It's taking a risk, and who will take it first? Asking a friend for advice is always valuable, because he or she sees things objectively. It's scary, being so honest and facing rejection. That feeling hasn't changed, no matter which decade you're in.

  79. Geez. When I was in college, most kids were not having sex. Boys and girls dated occasionally, but everyone was concentrated more on being friends and on learning and on growing up. Today's sex-all-the-time morality is not healthy, it's like these kids are governed by their hormones and not their minds. Where is self and intellectual discovery? College should be a time to learn to be independent and a responsible adult. Being dependent on sex and a sex partner is NOT accomplishing that.

  80. Geez. When you were in college, my guess is that most kids WERE having sex . . . and not telling you.

  81. When we are young, there is no way we can know what true love is, because true love means being with someone through all the hard stuff life inevitably offers and hanging in there when the day-to-day isn't a ton of fun.

    Illness, crying babies, overdue mortgage payments, elderly parents, job loss, long working hours, depression, passing of friends and relatives -- all of this stuff happens as time marches on. Having a solid partner by your side for mutual support makes it so much easier. And if you hold together through the tough stuff, what awaits on the other side is true love.

  82. Somehow you seem to have reduced true love to a co-experiential thing. I think it might be a bit more than that. I agree that being able to go through all of that together, through tough times and maybe even moments when one or the other isn't such a solid partner, can be an indicator of true love, but, just that. I don't think passing an endurance or stress test is a way to say, now there is true love. I think having it BEFORE all of that is what makes survival of that togetherness possible. I've listened to too many old timers describing their love and their tough times, real tough times, but consistently knowing that they loved each other from the start.
    Life gives different people different twists and tuns and challenges but eventually, I'd like to believe, true love can be there, underneath, as the most solid foundation.

  83. When my daughter was in first or second grade, around 25 years ago, she had a friend who was a boy and they used to like to play computer games together, like Dr. Brain - they were both very bright and kind of nerdy and enjoyed each other's company, because most kids were first learning how to read. Somewhere along the line, maybe third or fourth grade, they decided they were "boyfriend" and "girlfriend". I think they had a deeper and more mature relationship, not "physical".

  84. Can these columns somehow be flagged for those written by college students, and those written by adults?

    The writing here is excellent, the points the author raises quite valid. But the points she raises are also self-evident to anyone over the age of 30 with a modicum of self-awareness. Musing about relationships is a great pastime for people of all ages, but the contemplations of experienced adults are entirely different than those still wrapping up their undergrad degree. Greater clarity into what I'm about to read would be nice, and also good journalism.

  85. Agreed... after reading that the editor of this column choses 52 essays out of the 7000 that are submitted each year, I'm constantly shocked at what is deemed worthy of publication, let alone the same type of material that shows up in the last of the serious, and well-lauded titans of established journalism and literary magazines and journals.

  86. if the writing is "excellent" and the points "valid" then it seems like the author of this comment is simply opposed to the content not being immediately applicable to his/her own life, right now.

    maybe some expanded perspective is in order. hey, the newspaper is a good place to go for other points of view!

  87. sex or not to sex used to be the hard question. Now it's much easier, or even a throwaway. The emotional attachments and the meaning that one person gives to another is a lot harder, always was and always will be...

  88. Dear Sophie,

    Might I suggest popping some popcorn and renting the movie: He's Just Not That Into You.

    Is the moral of your story that when a man can't even be bothered to pretend to want the same thing you want, it is always possible to browbeat him into pretending that he does?

    When a man says he doesn't want a relationship with you, believe him and move on.

  89. I'm very old and old fashioned. 29,124 days old.
    I thought that when a man and a woman put themselves
    together in a posture for creating new life, that there was
    an understanding that something more than pleasure and
    amusement was happening. If that's not the case then people
    are no better than animals. No wonder things are so far out of whack.
    Maybe the animals are better. Humans are probably the only creatures
    that drink when they are not thirsty, eat when they are not hungry and try
    to create new life out of season. Maybe God wasted his time on day 6.

  90. I was going to say welcome to the 21st century but maybe - instead - welcome to the 20th century.

  91. In your time? Exactly time was that? Was it before this time, perhaps:
    From 2 Samuel 11: One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. ... Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

  92. Sorry Michele, I don't think David is a good role model.

  93. In case you read all the comments, Sophie:

    You're a beautiful and talented writer, and I admire your courage to publish this piece. It's honest and self-reflective. Congratulations on being honest with yourself and honest with your partner. While the messy emotions of partnership are difficult in college, you're doing it. Know what you want, love fiercely, and the rest will fall into place. My only piece of advice is this- don't get addicted to the butterflies and the in-love feelings. That stuff fades, and sometimes it's the most powerful with people who won't make good partners, but do make good lovers. Thank you for writing this, it took me back to days that were poignant and filled with discovery, lessons that led me to a more stable, sweet (but less exciting!) family of my own in my late twenties.

  94. Let's be realistic. A junior at Yale has many, many options that will open up to her or him in the next 18 months. Graduate school, short-term or long-term employment, all over the world. Why commit too deeply to a romance that almost inevitably will come to an end on graduation day?

    I was just reflecting on my dear college girlfriend: No matter how much I cared for her, I knew that the bigger issue was finishing the degree and taking the next step toward adulthood, which meant moving to a job thousands of miles away. I never doubted that was going to happen, and it certainly colored the quality of our relationship at that age. Likewise, she had her own goals and there was never any question that she would set aside her own hopes and ambitions to follow me to a faraway place.

  95. Sophie -

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for having the bravery to write this earnest and honest piece. People of a different generation can lament and criticize all they want but the fact is they grew up in a different time. They didn't have so many options. Our generation is scared to commit to any one thing and it's sad because commitment can lead to happiness and a satisfying life. People will eventually realize that.

    Modern Love publishes all kinds of love stories and I'm shocked at some of the hateful comments from people who clearly have forgotten what it's like to be young, to learn about love. I don't think Sophie said anywhere that this was a forever love, a marriage type of love. Anyone accusing her of living in the honeymoon stage must be bitter and jaded. You can't expect a young 20something to have experienced the kind of love a person could only know at 50. Love means different things at different stages of life. It doesn't make it any less real.

    I am glad I read this and can console tell relate. Best of luck to you in your future Sophie.

  96. I agree. Strip this of all the current labels and you can break it down to the age old query, am I loved, am I accepted, or am I rejected. It has less to do with her opportunities, intellect or long term goals, and more to the immediate defining of a relationship that could enhance her life. It is easy to judge a young woman's attempt at honesty, but how lucky for us that she is willing to expose her vulnerability to share an experience. Isn't that what good writers do?

  97. I am trying to find one thing about this article that doesn't depress me beyond belief. Ok, here's one: I'm INCREDIBLY GLAD I'm not in my 20s.

  98. Me too! What did we teach our children?

  99. Okay, I guess I am kind of old because I always thought
    if you were having sex on a regular basis with someone,
    you were having 'a relationship'.

  100. I think guys invented the levels and labels as a way to put lots and lots of space between them and the girls from whom they are getting no-strings sex. Put marriage & commitment so far into the future, the girl will get tired and go off in search of a real commitment.

  101. What a completely sad time to be in your teens and twenties. I never read such drivel but I now know it exists. I'm only 40 but I never went through this...inane....whatever it is. I can only hope that when these poor individuals have kids, they slap them straight. This is part of the demise of this country, among so many other breakdowns. I see the entitled masses coming in as interns in companies and I have to wonder with all this floating through their heads if they can focus on a solid career. But I have not given up hope....everything goes in cycles. Grab them bootstraps, babies! You'll make it through life, just like the rest of us.

  102. Stumbled into here, Modern Love, by accident.... I think I'd best just stumble out again.

  103. "We had started doing this thing where we hung out before we hooked up. Sometimes we didn’t even hook up." I must be terribly, terribly old. It took me a moment to realize that the author was talking about having sex. Why can't the author (and many others of her generation) say that? "Before we had sex." "Sometimes we didn't even have sex." Is there something wrong with that language? Does the term "hook up" somehow remove all the sexual connotations and if so, why is that desirable?

  104. I think the term 'hook up' removes all romantic and/or
    emotional connotation.

  105. How is that even possible? Why have sex without an emotional connection?

  106. I have a daughter and son in their early ten's, which makes them in Generation Z. I, myself is generation X. As a parent, I feel it is my responsibility to teach my kids that human should hold high moral standard when it comes to sex. Otherwise, we are no different from animals. I will teach my daughter to be strong and independent, and my son to be respectful to the girl he is seeing. Those moral education is ageless, regardless what generation you are in!

  107. Hal Thank you for your voice. All through this I felt like I was in
    a wilderness. There are some others who think like I do. Its a
    distant view, but there is hope.

  108. This is just traditional dating flipped backwards. It used to be you began with infatuation, and all that moony, lovesick and insecure stuff the writer calls being a girlfriend. Waiting for him to call. Hoping he shares your feelings. Then you moved into a physical relationship (to the degree you allowed yourself), and that status either stuck and developed into comfortable couplehood (the various levels of hooking-up-with-emotion-attachment) or grew stale and alienating (the all-physical-but-not-friends stage). Then you either stayed together or went your separate ways. I'm not sure which is the better sequence. I really don't.

  109. A college sophomore needs encouragement and opportunities, but this column, in this paper, was a total disappointment.

    Let's move on to the next level.

  110. Labels suffer from being both limiting and inaccurate. With marriage a 50/50 bet and rampant cheating in 'committed' relationships, committing to being exclusive covers a wide spectrum.

    If you're hooking up, you're in a relationship. If you work together or live together or drink together or work out together or do really anything together on a regular basis, you have a relationship. The boundaries of relationships usually evolve naturally. Knowing what you want from a relationship is the real issue and if you're don't ask, you probably won't receive.

  111. Instead of "Modern Love", this should be titled "Modern Screwed-Up People Who Would Rather Have Uncommitted Sex Than Real Relationships." How depressing.

  112. In my youth, we had a thing called channel surfing, where you switched from one TV channel to another after a few minutes. Now, people have relationship surfing. Difference is, TVs don't have feelings. Best of luck in this new Tartarus!

  113. Excellent installment of Modern Love. I'm 76 and I can relate. I have just broke up with a woman I was dating and liked a lot. I wanted a girlfriend, a relationship with activities and warm, passionate sex, but not a committed, constantly in touch, live-together thing. She insisted we come up with a label to describe what we had. I saw what she was getting at and tried to avoid calling us, "friends with benefits." What's wrong with that? Really good friends and really good "benefits"? But she had fallen in love and wanted more. She had to move on to find what she wants. I miss her. But I couldn't give more.

  114. Extraordinary sad....

  115. Amazing. Truly amazing.They established a college relationship. No one -- no one -- has ever done that before. It's so great that the Times gave her the space to release this truly astounding event that no before has ever experienced.

    Leave it to a Yale girl to break new ground and tread where none of us have ever been before.

  116. to say nothing of the fact that IMO, she was pestering the bejeezus out of him and he could just as well have told her to take a hike. The outcome she had is the exception, I think.

  117. So many people responding have had the wonderful luck of having a long term relationship for their entire adult lives. How nice it must be to have that moral high ground so that they can judge others for being shallow enough to admit that they don't have all the answers. Defining relationships can be confusing because many times one person doesn't care enough to do so. Sophie is doing far better than most by at least reflecting on these feelings in order to ask the right questions so that she does not lose out. So many women would not have asked and things may have ended prematurely because it was not laid out on the table. For some of us learning to do this can be a big step away from what we learned from our parents and a huge step towards contentment and positive relationships.

  118. and so many of the commenters are not acknowledging that FWB did not exist 25 years ago. They judge as if things are the same as when they were young. Come into the new millenium people.

  119. Wow! The sex is so casual. From hooking up to friends with benefits to finals friends with benefits to booty calls to arrangements. Wow! Back in the Stone Age - actually the 80's - when I went to college a study break meant going to the movies or for ice cream. The Talk meant deciding on the horror flick versus the chick flick; strawberry versus chocolate chip. There was one label: dating. I hope that never goes out of style.

  120. Perhaps just me but I have ever understood being intimate without intamacy.

  121. I am truly surprised by the provincial tone of many of these comments. Unless they are extremely elderly, they must have selective memory. I just turned 60 and my husband,65. When we met 20 years ago, there was a lot of recreational sex happening, free of guilt and sexually transmitted disease. Our intimacy progressed over 6 months which felt right to me. Of course, he would have jumped into bed the first night we met. But many of my friends were comfortable with "quickies" irrespective of whether they were ultimately seeking a committed relationship. It sounds like we had a lot more fun!

  122. Totally agree. The idea that there is anything new or strange about friendships based on sex, sex-only relationships, one-night-stands, and all the other permutations is totally absurd. If anything, the whole world of sex was freer and less constrained when I was in college, in the late seventies, than it is now. My women friends and I regarded ourselves as equal participants, not prey, as seems to be the perception now. The notion that sex was by default rape didn't exist. AIDS was not yet a concern. Some people had serious relationships, others had casual relationships, still others just had recreational sex. There was far less fear and judgment around any of this than there seems to be now. And there were plenty of conversations among my friends about what was really going on in our relationships, whether our partners were serious, whether we wanted things to get more serious, etc.

    There was also a lot of experimentation with same-sex involvements, which weren't burdened by the need to define precisely what our identities were. Exploration and discovery were the norm.

    There's nothing new under the sun.

  123. I just don't recall commitment being stressful as this writer proclaims. When I was young being in a committed relationship made me feel safe and gave me courage and strength because I was in love and happy and secure, and not worrying about whether someone liked me or not. What does seem stressful to me is having sex (which is a vulnerable and intimate experience) with someone I am not sure cares about me as anything but another body. I am not judging here -- just feeling mystified, and yes, at 45 old, because the state of college relationships or whatever they are being called is not something that seems familiar to me at all. I was glad to hear that Ms. Dillon made it to the land of relationship (and past exclusive hooking up which is a pretty weird concept) and I hope that she finds it more rewarding and less stressful than she feared. I married my college boyfriend, and 21 years of marriage and two children later, it is really nice to be with someone who has known me for so long.

  124. I enjoyed this story and was so reminded by that tug and pull of early attraction, need for connection, validation and love. I graduated from college in the '60's, back when we first had "the pill" but everyone was still scared by the possibility of pregnancy and its shame. Abortion wasn't legal yet so having sex with someone was scary. So on top of the gravitational pull of sex was that little voice inside wanting to know, if things go south, will the guy commit. I've now been married over 40 years and had forgotten about the early angst of relationships. Thank you for reminding me that now when I'm wondering which of us will die first and bring about the collapse of our relationship, that the beginning had such tender roots.

  125. Why buy a cow when you can get the Milk for free, they say.
    Girls, quit throwing yourselves at young men. They want you more, than you need them (in today's world). Let them earn your respect and love.
    why this so difficult for young girls to fathom?

  126. Jack, I totally get you. I think though at this point the cat is out of the bag, we're trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted.

  127. cute, sweet, honest story....good luck honey.

  128. Nothing wrong with loving someone;)

  129. So needy - vulnerable- sad. Is anybody else reminded of the old
    Audrey Hepburn movies where Audrey, projecting a lousy
    self image, is struggling for the affection of someone who's just not good enough for her?

  130. Thanks for the back-up. Was concerned I might be the only adult reading this giddy tripe.

  131. Upon reading this piece, I obsessed over the possibility of being too excessively into my first relationship. I interrogated myself to find out if being in love so intensely at 19, going to school, being a daughter, finding and creating myself, still just growing and maturing in every aspect of my life, was rational. I pressed myself to validate if I am, right now, prioritizing the right things and the right people, as if the emotional sphere in my life was just a frivolous aspect of my leisure. I questioned if the trials my boyfriend and I were going through already at such a ripe and hopeful time in our lives was worth it and not at all ridiculous.
    I am so giddy and just relieved to find that I am not silly. I am young, in love, and oblivious, and having a mutually reciprocated relationship--regardless of its exclusivity or not--lends itself to me as a world I can fling myself into whenever I so please without being absolutely foolish. "We did it. We're doing this," and I'm so glad I am, too.

  132. Seriously? This is much ado about nothing! We are hard-wired to give love and receive love; it is never just about sex!