The word implies an event. Walking around a gallery making thoughtful “mm” noises. Eating a meal with a knife and fork. Asking questions like, “So what do you do for a living?” I’m not sure that inviting someone over to shag under the pretence of watching Planet Earth and then feeding them beans constitutes a date.
So “dating” is, actually, just shagging. That’s relatively simple, right? Wrong. Who should you shag? When should you shag? Will she be more likely to shag you if you let her dance around in your cap in the club? Is a shag worth losing the cap you paid £29 for? Because she’s certainly not giving it back to you, and she’s probably not shagging you either. Turns out there are many situational quandaries to negotiate.
Luckily, I, an expert, am here to guide you through it. Assuming that coronavirus lockdown rules ease off at some point and we’re not destined for a shagless existence forever, here are the dos and don’ts of dating at uni.
DON’T GET INTO A RELATIONSHIP STRAIGHT AWAY
Everyone from school might have called you “cone” for three years because of your pointy nipples. They might have laughed at you for carrying your PE kit in a Netto carrier bag and told you your mum sounds like she “guzzles a lot of cum”. But whatever you do, do not go out with the first person who’s nice to you during that introduction lecture.
It doesn’t matter that they can recite Audre Lorde, use words like “ontological” and chop onions really, really fast without looking where the knife is going. They will turn out to be just as much of a prick as everyone else on the planet. More so, even. Turns out they hum, “Well now, that’s subjective,” after every point you make, not because they’re a committed relativist, but because they never do the reading. They’re not an anarcho-syndicalist, that’s just a big word they use an excuse not to pay people back.
ACTUALLY, DON’T GET INTO A RELATIONSHIP LATER ON EITHER
University is not the time for happiness. It’s for ringing people you’ve slept with approximately once and screaming, “FUCK YOU, WE COULD HAVE HAD SOMETHING,” down the phone.
Happiness should come later, when you’ve developed hips and have opinions on whether Lauren Laverne is a worthy replacement for Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs.
DON’T SHAG ANY BNOCS (BIG NAMES ON CAMPUS)
There are some BNOCs you can shag. The drug dealer. The guy who looks a bit like Cook from Skins. The insanely tall girl. But most BNOCs are to be given a wide berth.
At my university, some of the no-go’s included: “Shitter”, who literally did a shit in his hands and clapped; the nameless BNOC whose flatmate walked in on him wanking into his mirror, wearing nothing but a pair of Timberlands; and “Lettuce”, who ate nothing but lettuce and butter sandwiches for an entire term because he spent all of his loan on an iPhone that he lost, and then another iPhone that he also lost.
If you have sex with one of these types, your name will forever be tainted by association. You won’t get a cool nickname of your own, you will be identified by your peers as The Person Who Fucked Shitter.
DO FIND A LIBRARY WIFE / HUSBAND
You sit near each other every day. A few seats away. Close enough that you can smell the coconut tones of their shampoo. You’re always staring misty-eyed over the top of your laptop at their hands, tanned and lightly speckled with pink highlighter ink. Whenever they go to get books, you lean over so you can watch their taut calf muscles as they reach up to grab something from the top shelf. You think about your first conversation: “You’re going to the Marx aisle?” “I wanted that book too! Good thing we’re both communists!” Hahaha. These imaginations will see you through all manner of romantic embarrassments. You will never fuck, but it might be the best relationship you ever have.
DO ASK FOR A BIT MORE
I went out with a guy who was too lazy to get up and go to the toilet – a mere five feet away – so used to piss in cups that he left around the bed, like some ancient cleansing ritual. I kept on sleeping with him anyway.
Learn from your mistakes. Manoeuvre your sex as a bargaining tool. No sex until you stop calling me “Renaissance history seminar girl” and learn my actual name (this part of my list is gendered because, let’s be honest, what man in freshers is in the position to ask for more). No sex until you introduce me to your friends, rather than just pointing at me from across the library as though I can’t see the blow job hand movements your friends are making. No sex until you put something in your bathroom besides Lynx shower gel, shampoo and conditioner three-in-one. No sex until you buy toilet roll because the “shaking method” isn’t really a method at all, it just means there’s piss in my knickers.
Actually, just no sex – whoever this guy is, he doesn’t deserve sex.
DON’T SHAG IN THE CLUB
Neither of you will cum, so it will just stop when one of your backs start hurting or when something turns floppy or dry.
DO SHAG IN THE LIBRARY
The thinking person’s version of shagging in the club. The trick is to do it in one of the study rooms with the lights off, because they lock from the inside. When you’re old and boring, you can tell people about it and they will think you’re cheeky and fun.
DON’T TAKE DRUGS ON EVERY NIGHT OUT BECAUSE YOU WON’T SHAG
It’s not like in the films, where people are sniffing powder off a supermodel's perfectly spherical ass. In real life, drugs make the thought of sex spectacularly uninteresting.
Margot Robbie could literally walk over in Playboy bunny dress-up, put your can of Red Stripe down, take you by the hand and say, “I want to do bad things to you,” and you’d say, between jaw-spasms, “Naa, DJ EZ has 20 more minutes of his set, and apparently, don’t tell anyone because it’s kind of a secret, but he’s doing a set at Dave’s afterparty.”
DJ EZ won’t do a set at Dave’s, he will go home and sleep. You will stay up for 12 hours texting dealers who are also asleep. While you ignore all evidence pointing to the fact that you too should sleep, your mate Beth will give you a head massage.
“Can you keep doing that,” you’ll purr, shivering from pleasure as her long nails run lines into the base of your skull “– that’s nice.” You might actually kiss her, but the thrill won’t be from horniness, it’ll be from the moisture you lick off her tongue into your parched throat. This is the closest you will get to fucking while on drugs.
DON’T SHAG YOUR FLATMATES
Either you will cry or they will cry or you will both cry. You are not the exception to the rule. If you do, one of you will have to move out midway through the year and end up as a lodger in a family home in the outer suburbs because Student Housing will tell you halls are now at maximum capacity, condemning the chosen one to spend the majority of the next year wasting away on the 37 bus, travel sick and bitter.
DO FUCK YOUR FRIENDS
You need a bit of chaos in your life, otherwise you’ll end up never offending anyone and never having any fun.
If you’re a woman, don’t worry about guys telling the rest of your group you’re shit in bed. Even if you lay there like a sack of shit, they will make out it was amazing, as it’s in their best interest to sound like they have incredible sex.
Guys, do worry, because she definitely will tell the entire group if it’s shit. Women are capable of keeping secrets, but choose not to. So put some effort in rather than just swiping past her clit like you’re running items through a Sainsbury’s self-checkout machine.
DON’T GIVE YOUR HOODIE TO HER
You think she looks cute in your oversized Ralphy shirt? You think she looks sexy, cool, all small and cute in your big jumper, all waif-ish and delicate? “It’s cold outside,” she says, getting dressed after you’ve had sex. “I’ve only got this backless crop-top to wear, is it alright if I take this? I promise I’ll bring it back.”
She will not.
At home, this freckle-nosed sweetheart has cupboards and cupboards full of jumpers. Sometimes she wears them to lectures, but mostly they are ornamental, like the skins of animals shot on a shooting range. Carhartt hoodies. North Face fleeces. A Fruit of the Loom might have edged you over into your overdraft, but it’s so worthless to her that she values it as little more than roadkill.
ASIDE FROM ALL THAT, DO SHAG WHENEVER AND WHEREVER POSSIBLE
Because when you get older you’ll start to enjoy watching The Fall more than orgasms.