Hey, you. Yeah, you. You know exactly who you are. And you are but one amongst many roaming the streets, confusing women from LA to NY. The frat house, local bar and dorm hall are your playground. Oftentimes, you don't even know that what you're doing is wrong, but that doesn't make us feel any better. You're the Time Waster.
The Time Waster is that guy that you dated for several weeks freshman year. You hooked up with him once, didn't think you'd see him again, and then were surprised when he finally texted. You went on dates, slept at each others' places and met each others' friends. You wondered if he was doing this with any other girl, but he acted so differently around you that you brushed that thought aside. He kept texting, making plans and treating you like more than a friend. It didn't really matter to you because you weren't interested in a relationship in the first place!
After several weeks of this couple-y behavior, you inevitably begin to have feelings for him. Your "relationship" transcended the physical in many ways, and you begin to fathom that he might actually like you too. You finally pluck up the courage to bring it up, and lo-and-behold, he avoids the commitment talk, saying that he isn't ready for a full-blown relationship and "can't things just stay the way they are?"
From this point, several things could happen. Either he immediately dropped off your radar and became a one-man escape act, or he continued stringing you along. If the latter was the case, then this would go on until he told you that he felt things were getting too serious and he didn't want to get any more involved, or until you realized that he was using you and dumped his a**.
Why did this happen? Why do so many guys feel the need to string girls along? Friends from across the country have called me and exasperatedly exclaimed, "I just don't understand what he wants from me!" One of the main reasons that this classic paradigm exists is somewhat cliché: many guys, especially young ones, are afraid of commitment. What they fail to recognize is that plenty of girls are just as petrified (shocker!). As one Berkeley freshman put it, "Trust me, we're just as afraid of relationships as you are!" She explained that while she, and many of her friends, are just searching for a noncommittal, casual fling, the guys they get involved with often don't believe that.
One of the most pervasive stereotypes about women, in my opinion, is that they are always searching for a steady relationship with commitment, exclusivity and love. However, the sexual climate has changed very rapidly during the past decade, and women are becoming more and more comfortable with their sexuality. We no longer are either the Madonna or the Whore; we can have a fling or just a "hook-up" without being chastised for it. There are, in fact, female college students who are not perpetually on the prowl for a boyfriend.
A vital reason is that there is a rising dilemma for these men: they want to keep the physical part of the relationship. Revealing their true intentions might compromise the arrangement. There's a saying that 'men fake love to get sex' and 'women fake sex to get love.' I believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with that statement; neither gender should be fabricating anything, and men are not the only ones who want just sex. Being afraid of losing a hook-up because of the "relationship talk" is a perfectly acceptable fear. However, lying in order to get out of it unscathed is not an acceptable solution.
College is quintessentially the time to have new, exciting experiences and be open-minded about pretty much anything and everything (especially at Cal). If being in a relationship is an obstacle to your unfettered freedom, then so be it and don't be in one. Many young women are of the same mindset (girls just wanna have fun?); this outlook should result in plenty of fulfilling physical relationships with no strings attached, but for some reason that isn't the pattern we see today. The Time Waster, incapable or simply unwilling to accept that women may share this similar mindset, resorts to his unsatisfying and hurtful methods of game playing.
So what is the solution? Communication is the first step, and both parties must let their expectations be known from the beginning of the entanglement. Girls, if you really do want a relationship, don't settle for the guy who clearly just wants to hook up -- you'll get nothing but regret, heartache and a big carton of Ben and Jerry's out of it. Guys, if you just want to hook up, let the girl know; otherwise you're just being, quite frankly, an a******. Same goes for the reverse, which, believe it or not, is also possible! Guys might want a relationship while the girl is noncommittal. Either way, no one is in the wrong; everyone is entitled to his or her own relationship wants and needs.
There is also a subtlety that must be understood when engaging in strictly physical relationships. Defining your relationship in this way does not mean that the girl you're seeing is now reduced to a sexual object. Respect is always required, especially in the bedroom. As one anonymous USC freshman put it, "There's a difference between a thing and a relationship. We like things, we don't like booty calls." While a girl may be perfectly content remaining your hook-up and nothing more, she is not content with being treated without respect. That caveat is one that should not be breached. You must simply define the boundaries of your arrangement. Just look at Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright's characters in House of Cards!
All this prattling leads to my conclusion: please, for the love of God and all that is mighty, don't waste our time. While you're stringing us along and leading us to believe that you might actually have feelings for us, we could be having a fling with a hall mate who wants the same arrangement that we do. All this game playing and lying just wastes our time, and we only have eight semesters of college to waste. Beyond that aspect, don't toy with others' time and emotions. If you want something, say it. Don't cower away; you could be ruining the opportunity to have exactly the kind of arrangement you want. And so, Time Waster, women (and men) of the college and adult world alike beg you to change your ways. We're people too, so treat us like it.
Follow Hannah Berkman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hberk9