The world of dating is full of confusion and anxiety. Despite how scary the dating world may seem, the world of friend-zoning appears to be a fate worse than death for most students. The fear of rejection is universal. College students are especially vulnerable to the idea that their crushes will refuse to reciprocate their feelings. Even though rejection isn’t the most pleasant feeling, it doesn’t need to feel like the end of the world.
Harlan Cohen, advice columnist and author of the book “The Naked Roommate” came to Fairfield to talk to students on March 30 about dating and why people are afraid to share their feelings. During the event, Cohen advised each of the students who volunteered to speak that there is no shame in rejection. “I talk a lot about being great at rejection, which sounds funny, but being great at rejection means that I’m going to be great at being vulnerable and I’m going to be OK, even if you don’t respond the way I want you to I’m going to respect you and listen to you. We don’t get a lot of practice with that,” said Cohen.
Cohen believes that the influence of the internet, which provides us with Facebook and dating apps, has made us meek when it comes to expressing our emotions. For years, Cohen has talked to students and created a system that allows one to become comfortable with rejection so that they can take risks. His five step method includes ideas such as embracing universal rejection truth, training oneself emotionally, physically and spiritually, stopping making excuses, taking initiative and celebrating, as well as reflecting and repeating.
“The social and emotional parts of college transition are the parts that students struggle with. It’s common for students to suffer anxiety and or depression when dealing with romantic relationships and I think so much of that is connected to how we handle the social and emotional challenges. We just don’t have any training, at least not a lot of it,” said Cohen.
Despite the situation, Cohen believes that vulnerability should be embraced, not feared. Senior Thalia Soriano agreed with his beliefs. “This event teaches you that you need to put yourself out there even if there are risks. As a senior, you shouldn’t be afraid to say something in terms of [your] love life,” she said.
In his novel, Cohen’s advice regarding taking risks applies to all ages; whether to underclassmen or upperclassmen, his advice was the same. He believes that if we spend less time fearing rejection and more time communicating our feelings less pressure would be put upon us. After years of talking to students and writing his books, Cohen has come to know that the word rejection does not necessarily mean failure.
“For some reasons society has told us that our emotions are stupid and that we shouldn’t be in touch with them. I think that especially as college-aged students we should be able to tell each other how we feel and I think that that would make for better relationships across the board,” said Emily Ripple ‘17.
Emotions are what make us human and by being vulnerable to those we are interested in, a lot of courage is shown. At the end of the day, nobody wants to be with someone who hides their true feelings behind social media. There is nothing wrong with taking initiative whether you are older or younger, male or female. To strive for anything in life, you need to take risks because living in fear will never do anything for you but hold you back.