Become the Player, Not the Played

Become the Player

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In the age of dating apps, casual hookups and the dreaded “situationship,” it is easy for many students to lose hope while on the quest for love. Young women, specifically, seem to be struggling in the college dating scene.

Casual sex and “dating around” have become more socially acceptable for women, which many view as a positive. Others, however, claim that this is a false sense of empowerment.

Adele Lee, a UTK student, spoke on this issue. 

“I think the empowerment comes from a woman thinking about what kind of relationships she wants from men and being able to decide what that looks like. Unfortunately, I think a lot of girls think they are participating without fully being aware of what it is, ” Lee said. 

The term “situationship” has gained popularity in recent years and describes a relationship between two people that is noncommittal but still holds more emotional value than a purely sexual relationship. The two parties may cuddle, go on dates and send each other “goodnight” texts, but they still refuse to define their relationship.

As you can probably guess, it is very rare that a situationship has a happy ending. Oftentimes, one person ends up developing romantic feelings while the other remains content with the lack of commitment.

Lee also described her experience with situationships. 

“It was basically being expected to act like a girlfriend without getting the benefits of having a boyfriend,” Lee said. 

Dating apps also play a role in students’ reluctance to commit to one person. Apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge give the illusion of unlimited options, which can be daunting. Users are hesitant to commit to one person for fear of missing out on someone better. 

Social media does not help either.

It is no secret that the increasing usage of social media has worsened our communications skills, and this applies to romantic relationships as well. Social media has specifically created a fear of confrontation since it is much easier to break up with someone over text than it is to tell them in person.

Some people don’t even send a text, though.

“Ghosting” is a term used to describe an instance of someone ending contact with you without any explanation.

Even if you were not in a defined relationship, this lack of closure can make these types of break ups just as hard, if not harder, than real ones. In response to the current dating scene, many women online have shared their tips and tricks to land the guy of your dreams.

When asked to describe her experience in the college dating scene, Marie [last name redacted for privacy], a junior at UTK, spoke on her struggles. 

“It’s definitely a majority cesspool, but it’s also not as impossible to find good people as people say it is. It’s been that way since apes could walk, and it almost certainly won’t change anytime soon. As my very wise drafting teacher in high school once said, ‘the losers exist to make the winners look good,’” Marie said. 

In some cases, the advice is heartfelt and encouraging.

Oftentimes, though, women have decided to “become the player, not the played.”

“Dark femininity” is a trend online, specifically on TikTok, that encourages women to become more assertive and self-centered in their romantic endeavors. While this is not inherently a bad thing, some users encourage women to become emotionally distant and manipulative. 

However, two wrongs don’t make a right. 

Teaching women to become a “player” is not going to fix their relationship problems. In actuality, it will likely worsen the issues and lead to insecurities developing.

Instead, men should be encouraged to learn how to communicate their emotions effectively to generate more healthy relationships. Although it may seem like Knoxville’s dating scene is beyond repair, not all hope is lost.

Although it took a lot of trial and error, Brianna Richards, a 22-year-old UTK student, met her current boyfriend through a dating app, and they are still going strong. 

“Hookup culture helped me realize what signs to look for when getting into a serious commitment with somebody. People searching for non-committed relationships are usually very distant and unwilling to see you more than just at night or to get a certain need fulfilled,” Richards said. 

If you are trying to escape the throes of hookup culture, you must be honest with potential partners about your values and expectations in a relationship. Sacrificing your personal standards in order to impress a partner is not going to cure your romantic ailments. 

“Stay true to yourself, and don't put yourself in uncomfortable positions or give yourself too much to people who would not make the time for you,” Richards said. 

Remember this on your own quest in the dating scene.