Deja-vu all over again
by Christina DiGasbarro
Now that we’re back from our first semester at college—our first semester away from each other—my friends and I have been frenetically scheduling lunches and movie nights and times to otherwise get together and hang out. After seeing so many friends, I’ve noticed something that I might not have given a second thought to if it did not reoccur so consistently: literally every time I have a sustained conversation with one of my girl friends (but never when it’s with a guy friend), we always get to the topic of boys.
We never start the conversation there, but once we’ve talked about “It’s so good to see you!” and “How do you like your school?” and “What were your classes like?” and “What are your plans over break/for next semester/for the summer?”, the next question is some variant of “So, is there a guy?” And then we spend quite a long time sharing stories about guys we like or boyfriends or whatever, asking each other for advice, bucking each other up, and otherwise dissecting our love lives or lack thereof, whichever the case may be.
Part of the reason I find the unerring reoccurrence of this topic curious is that these girls and I never used to talk much about guys as anything much more than friends. Maybe the reason we’re more willing or eager to talk about romantic endeavors now is that we have been leading separate lives for a while now and, in our desire to fill each other in, we just talk about everything and anything. But I’m also left wondering why, even when there’s hardly anything to say on the topic, we invariably find ourselves talking for extended periods of time about boys.
Clearly there is friendly interest and concern for each other in our conversations; it is the reason for this friendly interest and concern that I wonder about. I’ve come up with two different hypotheses about this phenomenon. The first is that our concern for things relating to boys is a manifestation of a basic human need or desire to have a meaningful and loving relationship. The second is that our repeated discussions about our relationship statuses is a manifestation of the influence of a societal or cultural undercurrent or idea that a woman needs a man to be truly happy or fulfilled.
Don’t get me wrong; my friends and I are all very happy with our schools and our lives, and none of us would propose to another that she is more or less happy because she has or doesn’t have a boyfriend. But there must be some underlying reason that so many of us, with different interests and personalities, have had virtually the same conversation in the past week and a half.
So I’m curious: girls and boys, have you experienced anything like this? Do you think these conversations are the result of basic human wants or of cultural expectations and pressures? Personally, I would prefer to think it’s the former, but I’d like to see more evidence than my own experience before I accept that as the explanation.