Sex in the limestone city: Four years of sex & love in university

Life lessons that made me stronger

Two people flirting.
Journal File Photo

As this chapter of my life comes to an end upon graduation, I can’t help but looking back on the important memories I’ve made. 

Of all the lessons I’ve learned in the last four years — both inside and outside of the classroom — some of the most notable ones have come from what I’ve learned about sex and love. 

Before starting university, most of us hear about stories in which people meet the loves of their lives in these four years. Because of this, we tend to start our first years wide-eyed and hopeful that our soulmate will be the cute person next door in res or the one sitting next to us in our very first lecture. For me, as well as most people I know, this wasn’t the case.

I’d generally consider myself a realist, but when it comes to love, deep down, I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. Unfortunately, with the high prevalence of hookup culture in university, it isn’t always the best place for someone like me. 

Within my first month of university, I’d changed my mind about the type of relationship I wanted. I realized that something casual was much easier and I started giving in to the hookup culture I was surrounded by. 

Over my first two years, I was content being single and participating in relationships where the majority of communication came from 

late-night texting or meeting up at clubs. I even started developing an aversion to the thought of commitment or anything that was slightly complicated. This behaviour and mentality was reinforced by the fact that I was constantly choosing partners who felt the same way, meaning that whenever feelings developed, it came as a sign to both of us to end the relationship. 

Somewhere along the way, I began to lose the hopeless romantic in me that was so enthusiastic and excited about falling in love. 

After realizing there was something missing from the exchanges I was having, I became a little more open to the possibility of a real, committed relationship. Given I still hadn’t exactly learned how to pick the right partners, this didn’t give me a much more positive experience.

What started as a casual, no-strings-attached relationship became one in which I was more attached and being constantly strung along by someone who was one-foot-in and one-foot-out. This relationship inevitably ended and I was back to rejecting any form of commitment.

And that’s when things changed for me. In the end of my third year, I met a wonderful man who was everything I wanted and made me realize why it never could’ve worked with anyone else. For the first time, I understood what everyone was making such a fuss about when it came to love.

We’ve been together for almost a year now and since the beginning, I’ve learned so much about love and how amazing it can be. 

So you see, there was a happy ending to this story after all. 

In going through the rollercoaster of sex and love over the past four years, I learned a lot about myself and how to appreciate every experience — good or bad.

Through dealing with difficult aspects of relationships over this time, I’ve learned how to be happy with myself as well as understand what I want and deserve from another person. Although it seemed taxing and frustrating at the time, learning all of this made me ready for the one who now has my heart. 

I honestly do believe that hardships in every relationship — good or bad — always have meaning. All of the terrible situations I went through with other partners helped shaped me into a person who was ready to accept something amazing. 

If I could go back and change any of the frustration or sadness I endured due to my other relationships, I wouldn’t. In fact, I’d thank each one of those past partners for teaching me so much. 

That’s the most important thing I’ve learned about sex and love these four years — to be appreciative of the moments and people that made me strong and able to recognize and contribute to a healthy relationship. I’m happy to say I’m still the hopeless romantic I was at the start of these four years. 

                            —Barrie Cradshaw


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