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AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Students reflect on the evolution of their love lives while finding their own individuality

Students+said+Valentine%E2%80%99s+Day+has+summoned+a+throbbing+heart+for+those+dating+from+afar%2C+but+it+has+also+been+a+time+to+rejoice+over+intimate+connections+and+flower+arrangements+to+come.
Lily Speredelozzi | Assistant Photo Editor
Students said Valentine’s Day has summoned a throbbing heart for those dating from afar, but it has also been a time to rejoice over intimate connections and flower arrangements to come.

Valentine’s Day can evoke mixed feelings depending on your relationship with the holiday, but it can just as easily be a time to reflect on the heartbreak and hookup hysterias that define your love life.

Whether in a committed relationship or riding solo this February, students shared how they’ve learned to nurture their relationships and themselves as individuals as they develop their introspection and communication and balance their independence. They said Valentine’s Day has summoned a throbbing heart for those dating from afar, but it has also been a time to rejoice over intimate connections and flower arrangements to come.

Senior Victoria Freire keeps her Valentine’s Day open each year as she takes what some might see as an unorthodox approach to the holiday – she schedules casual, friendly dates to form a bond with a variety of peers both around the holiday and throughout the year. She focuses on being authentic to herself when she goes out with people, and she remains upfront about her plans for those relationships, usually preferring a level of distance veering on the side of friendship.

“I’m never in the realm of wanting something really serious,” Freire said. “I think I find it difficult to believe that – at this age – that people want that, and not in a totally negative way, more just like people should just be experiencing new things.”

After quarantining through the height of the pandemic, Freire said her biggest discovery in the course of her dating life has been the excitement and productivity that comes from spending time by herself instead of always surrounding herself with friends, which has brought on a new air of confidence when she sparks a conversation with someone new.

“It’s very cliche, but it’s yourself,” she said. “Like the one person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with is yourself. So you have to really love being with that person. And I definitely feel that way where I can spend time alone.”

Dating at GW for senior Brittany Troupe was daunting in the past, meeting prospective partners who spat out unprompted descriptions of their ideal wife on the first date and differed from her preferred level of exclusivity. But GW’s ill-suited dating field shifted tides for Troupe when she and her now-boyfriend Aidan Yilmaz shared a class together during spring 2021 after matching on a dating app the day she was going to delete it.

The two find compatibility in their relationship as they invest time in their respective hobbies, like painting and watching self-growth videos, and share appreciation for the other’s interests.

“Dating was dismal freshman year at GW,” Troupe said. “So I just do feel lucky having this and having this here. And I’ve had friends whose relationships have ended at GW, so it’s really nice to have something that’s still going and is still positive and healthy.”

A typical big-ticket, candle-lit dinner goes beyond the bounds of Troupe’s Valentine’s Day playbook. She and her partner like to play it simple, finding quality time watching shows or going on lunch dates to Five Guys. She said the pair makes a point of writing love letters and gifting flowers for Valentine’s Day and anniversaries, which is why Yilmaz adorns their apartment with a luminous bouquet of white hydrangeas and greenery twice a month to keep both their living environment and relationship blossoming.

Senior Cordelia Scales said she used to dread Valentine’s Day because she was “the tall, dorky, awkward girl that never got asked out,” but she is happy to now spend Valentine’s Day with her boyfriend Kai Simson, a second-year master’s student at the Graduate School of Political Management. Scales said the two are going out on a pizza date and haven’t planned anything exorbitant because she finds fancier displays “overwhelming.”

“We don’t need anything super extravagant or flashy or expensive – all we really need is time with each other,” Scales said.

Scales said she has started seeing herself from a different perspective after becoming “stronger and more resilient” through her past relationships in high school and at GW. She said she learned to be less hard on herself and more self-confident thanks to those relationships in which her partners vocalized their mutual love and support.

“Some of the things I’ve been through are traumatic, and my relationships helped me realize that the psychological scars are always going to be there, but they’re beautiful and they make me who I am,” she said.

Sophomore Katelyn Kovach’s boyfriend lives in Pittsburgh, so they rely on phone communication to fill in the gaps. Where her emotions have led her astray, her partner has kept her grounded and allowed her to grow with him, maturing in a way that makes her feel assured when vocalizing her needs.

A long-distance Valentine’s Day phone date has not stopped Kovach from celebrating her love in holiday fashion well in advance. Dressing up in a button-up baby pink cardigan printed with red hearts styled with deep red corduroy pants and a ribbon keeps the day special in her three-year relationship.

“Even though I’m not sending him anything, I’m so excited to talk to him on that day,” Kovach said. “I will say, though, I am not looking forward to seeing couples here.”

Freshman Noah Edelman said he and his girlfriend, a freshman at American University, have been careful to give each other enough space to grow individually while still finding ways to strengthen their relationship, which began their senior year of high school in Colorado. During the first semester of college, the two wanted to hold on to the other for support, but as time went on they realized how crucial prioritizing friends and branching out would be in a new environment.

“You want to let the other person cultivate their own experience, make their own friends and grow on their own road at the same time,” Edelman said.

Edelman said the most “gratifying” part of his relationship is the ongoing work that allows the pair to build their relationship. He said a key lesson he’s learned to embrace in this relationship is that “love is an action.” For Edelman, actively showing his love means listening when his partner shares and offering little acts of service, which include buying his girlfriend her favorite flavor of Yerba Mate tea – Enlighten Mint.

“You can tell someone you love them, but to show them you love them is a continuous piece of effort,” Edelman said. “Love is like a flower you have to keep watering – you have to check in on it and watch it grow – it’s not hands off.”

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