By Kate Bishop & Candice Brissenden
When one thinks of dating, one usually pictures romantic candle-lit dinners, picnics and an abundance of flowers and chocolate. At Rhodes this is not the case. Rhodes has its own dating culture, more commonly known as “napping”.
A typical Rhodes student looking for love (or something like it) is a nocturnal creature whose habitat includes the dance floors at the Union, EQ, Slip Stream or Friars. Three evenings under the Friars air-conditioners forms the basis of most Rhodes relationships. Once this milestone has been achieved, the common pattern of napping begins and partying is replaced with movie nights in residence.
One might wonder why Rhodes students opt to have “naps” instead of going on real dates. There are many logistical reasons why napping is just far more convenient. Firstly, the limited budget of the average student makes going on regular dinner dates impractical. Secondly, most residences are within walking distance of each other and it therefore requires little effort to spend time together.
Not all relationships at Rhodes are built on the unsteady foundation of napping, but even the strongest couples face challenges when dating at university. These include finding the balance between time spent with friends and with one’s significant other, irrational arguments fuelled by jealousy and dealing with awkward run-ins with ex-flames at the Rat and Parrot. Despite this, there are still couples who manage to make the effort to go on the occasional date.
Second year BA student, Lauren Beckett and her boyfriend claim they go on a date at least once a month for some variation from the regular routine. Beckett suggests going to Spur on Mondays or Wednesdays for the R25 burger special. “It’s affordable and it’s a change from hanging around res or going to the Rat,” she says.
Some relationships begin long before students enter the world of university. Sarah Waterfield and her boyfriend are two first years who have been dating since high school and have had their own unique set of problems to overcome. O-Week festivities present couples with more temptation than usual, and jealousy does become a factor. Although Waterfield and her boyfriend did not have any serious problems during O-Week, she admits that they did “have a bit of admin” due to jealous girls and teasing res-mates.
On the other end of the dating spectrum, there are older couples like Julia Bingham and Gareth Randles, second and fourth year students, respectively, who have been dating for a year. Bingham comments that “the age difference was hard at first, because we were both in different places. We both had different friends which made it hard to balance everything.”
Although most couples will have their ups and downs, the bottom line is that naps are not the only way to spend time together. It is possible to have a steady boyfriend or girlfriend rather than just a “napping partner”. It’s also safer and more fulfilling in the long run.