Sex and the University: One is Not the Loneliest Number

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As the sun appears to have emerged for the start of the Easter holidays, everyone is shining up like a new penny. Our white 60s shades can be worn, our wax appointments are booked and it seems we are feeling a little more prone to putting ourselves out there in the search for a mate. Just like this week’s hot topic – the one-pound coin was given a revamp due to its apparently dated appearance – we are also casting off our old shells.

For most people, whether single or in a relationship, public displays of affection are not desirable and around University campus, I was inundated with several displays. Once I started to notice, it wouldn’t stop. In the reading room, I could hear the soft murmurs of the couple’s conversation next to me, which was  followed by the sloppy noises of them making out, a few more words, another short inhale and then more making out. When couples seem to be bathing themselves with admiration for their partner in public it can be a little disturbing and narcissistic to say the least. We all understand that both of you are together but why is it that certain people feel the need to highlight who they’re regularly sharing saliva with to the rest of us?

During the stressful University year, it is only normal that we tend to lean on another for a shoulder to cry on. However, when did it become standard to rely on partners for confidence boosters, heaters in our beds, and smaller rent bills? My friend, who I shall give the pseudonym Plum, spoke of her love for narcissistic men, believing all of her exes bear this title, apart from her first love. Each boyfriend has latched onto her and made her feel drained. But without their guidance, her life just wouldn’t compare. The past lovers would shower her with compliments just to keep her under their thumb. Now single, she is still being tormented by her last beau, and it’s no wonder she’s away travelling to another continent. Is this what we now have to do to retract ourselves from the flaming narcissists? 

In Glasgow, a city filled with a dynamic music and art scene, I wonder what it’s like to have arrived in this bubble having not grown up here. Would I be in the same social circle I am now or would I have even lasted? Everyone fights for a little spotlight and a few more likes on an instagram post than their pals. When was it we all started competing for the goal of becoming the biggest fish in this small pond? Life is a contest; we can be sure of that.  However, when we are all competing for the attention and interest of others, we lose not only our real self along the way but the art of listening as well.  

Being chatted up by an attractive, slightly older man with impeccable bone structure at a bustling bar last Saturday was a lovely confidence booster. Upon discovering his artistic talent, he grabbed my attention. However, as the night fell closer to closing hours, I was suddenly finding myself yawning rather than being filled with excitement. It was the most remarkable performance where nothing – not even a little murmur – could silence him. He did not speak of anything else apart from his world and all the people in it. When I reached for a little white lie and told him I was off to dance with friends, his puppy dog eyes appeared. I was made to feel guilty for not straining my ears and giving him that moment he expected, upon which I would grab his hand and drag him back to my bed. Why is it that people think it is acceptable to moan and groan about themselves in order to attract? We are all made to define ourselves with certain careers, friendship groups, hobbies and class but people with narcissistic behaviour believe that all the articles that define them must be of the utmost importance to their sexual targets.

Although it is important to self-improve, we can forget what it really means to love each other instead of loving the feeling of being loved. Some of us are so wrapped up in our own live, that it isn’t healthy for the person we’re with or the person we desire. Narcissists select their candidate from afar, deciding that they are the next chosen meat to taste, which they will eventually spit back out if they’re not serving them with one-hundred-percent adoration. But regardless of who dumped whom, the narcissist will still appreciate any attention you pay towards them when they rattle up your phone. So really in this age where everyone is apparently suiting only themselves, the question is this: are we all narcissists?

I keep being reminded of my past not only through ex’s messages but through Facebook’s home page where memories display across my computer screen. Each status I would write as my fourteen year-old-self screams desperation and utmost narcissism as I was trying to attract my targeted boyfriend at the time, whilst trying to achieve as many likes as my peers.  There really is no escape from all of us being a little narcissistic.  

So being single and standing by yourself in a loud Sauchiehall Street bar doesn’t necessarily mean being alone; it can teach you to depend on yourself a little more whilst making honest friendships that are fair and not at all boastful. Listening to a man (or boy in my mind) rant about himself for a whole date gives me the shivers and not the good kind. It doesn’t mean we should all not listen to whatever is troubling each other, but both parties in a relationship should give the other some equal playing time on the see-saw of free speech. Or treat the world as your oyster: you don’t need to be stuck in a relationship purely because you need someone to lean on; in fact isn’t that supposed to be the time that you need to learn what you stand for. Or does that sound a little too narcissistic?


Written by: Charlotte Dean


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