Once upon a time a young woman came to study amongst the idyllic spires of Oxford. She dreamed of being ‘Crazy in Love’ as she strolled hand-in-hand across the cobblestones, having ‘Sex on Fire’ beside a bookcase in the corner of the Old Bod, and of a handsome PPEist proclaiming his love to her by means of a placard and a stereo in the middle of Broad Street.
Instead, she soon discovered that she was not Crazy in Love, but rather driven crazy by her weekly essay; having sex that was far more forgettable than explosive. She was often found standing in the middle of Broad Street having yet another existential crisis, fuelled by her dwindling academic prospects and her romantic disillusionment that now involved ‘she’s as well as ‘he’s.
As I performed my umpteenth walk of shame down Broad Street at the end of last term, clenching my best Ann Summers lace bra under my arm, I couldn’t help but wonder, is romance dead? And if so, who killed it? Or had I just been brainwashed by a childhood of Richard Curtis films into thinking that there ever was such a thing? Welcome to ‘No Sex in the City’, a hopeless (and single) romantic’s attempt to put words to the often gruelling, but exhilarating, struggles of dating at Oxford University.
I recently read about a virgin in her late twenties who found the ‘love of her life’ through writing a sex and relationships column. And so, here goes… What’s the worst that can happen? I find people throwing stones at my window overwhelmed by a desire to have me as their regular booty call? Or my innocent friends banging on my door to burn me at the stake after I expose all of their worst sexual escapades?
There are over 25,000 students at Oxford University. I only need one. And I’m not picky, but you better be good looking, funny and about 500 other things (I can send the list to any potential prospects). From incestuous college flings, uncontrollable horniness around housemates, to passing a one night stand on the tescalator, Oxford certainly throws up its challenges. But has romance become too much to expect? If you search for ‘love’ on SOLO, you’ll find over 9 million results…so we certainly have enough reading on the topic.
Watching some of my friends’ beautiful and mature relationships certainly helps to expel any cynicism I might have and so, I’m optimistic. Single life is the most practical option for many students ; some of us are simply trying to make it out the other side of this place with a degree in hand. I’ve tried that approach – telling myself I’m far too busy and important to be obsessing over my love life, but then I find myself coming to the same realisation as Bridget Jones, “that unless something changes soon [I’m] going to live a life where my major relationship was with a bottle of wine”. At least in my case, I’ve had three major relationships: with a bottle of wine, gin, and tequila.
According to a Student Room survey, 35% of Oxford graduates found their true love at uni and they fared as most likely to marry their university love at 79%. I’m not setting out to be part of that statistic but I’d certainly like to rack up a few romantic anecdotes that don’t start with something like “that time in the Bridge toilets”.
I’ve asked friends who are familiar with the show, which ‘Sex and the City’ character I most resemble, and I’m chuffed when I’m told that, of course, I’m Carrie. For those of you who don’t know, that means I’m a successful columnist living in New York who is funny, sexy, insightful and incredibly attractive (okay, you got me, I don’t possess all of her qualities). She’s the natural leader of the iconic friendship group, strong willed and ever optimistic about finding true love. But I also recognise that I share the qualities I’d rather ignore: she’s self-absorbed, has a problem with boundaries, and let’s face it, spent 6 seasons, 2 films and a reboot completely obsessed with love, sex and men.
It’s no secret that many of the tropes of the show are outdated and controversial, and in ways, have instilled many negative ideas about relationships and beauty standards in me, personally. The show is the inspiration behind this column but its similarities end here because unlike Carrie, it’s not going to take me a decade of writing it to find ‘the one’ (it better not because a graduate writing for Cherwell is just too pathetic).
The Cherwell Sex Survey last year found that you’re most likely to find someone to bring home in Plush and offering advice on finding sexual partners, a respondent said that “Piers Gav helps”. I’ve frequented Plush more regularly and filled out a membership form for Piers Gav, but to no avail. So it’s time for some new advice.
Because I’m a finalist and obviously have little work to do, I’ll be devoting this term to an experiment in Oxford dating. The number of Tinder dates I’ve had rivals the number of lectures I’ve attended since coming to Oxford and Cupid’s arrow over here at Cherpse has always missed the target. But I’m not giving up on love and in the name of my non-existent Cherwell readership, I’ll leave no stone unturned. I’ll be sharing my own experiences as well as the anecdotes of others, in an effort to shed light on what sex and dating is really like at Oxford. But I’d also love to hear from you! Your stories, suggestions and questions (maybe scrap that one because who am I to be answering them) and if you so wish, date offers.
Email [email protected] to get in touch.