This article was co-authored by Mallory Martin.
On Tuesday, Jan. 31, WEB and Whitman welcomed visiting speaker David Coleman, “The Dating Doctor.” Coleman, a sought-after motivational speaker in the midst of a whirlwind national tour, worked the audience masterfully, illuminating unspoken truths about both sexes that had the room rapt and silent one moment, and in hysterical laughter the next.
To get a proper diagnosis on the condition of campus romance, The Pioneer asked students for their opinions about love at Whitman College. An online survey turned up bleak results––of the 142 students who answered the survey, 19 percent said they rarely go on dates, while 22 percent said they don’t date; 17 percent said they don’t date, but hook up infrequently; five percent said they don’t date and hook up frequently; 28 percent said they have a steady significant other; and nine percent responded with “other.” Many of these “other” respondents expressed a desire but inability to date.
“Find me a boyyyyyyyyyyyy––I’m not even picky!” wrote one lonely Whittie. Not a single survey-taker responded that they frequently go on dates. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the romantic opportunities available to them at Whitman, while 62 percent said they were dissatisfied.
Many of those lovelorn souls turned up in force in Reid Ballroom to hear the Dating Doctor speak. “Dating Doctor” Coleman offered a range of tools for navigating the search for love in his lecture, notably his A-B-C-D rule of initial interest: attraction, believability, chemistry and the desire to get to know the person better. Coleman also emphasized that the ideal relationship must complement, rather than complete a person, and that we must first be whole and secure in ourselves before looking for love.
Meanwhile, The Pioneer’s own researcher turned to the best experts on Whitman dating life and how to get to know students on campus: Whitties themselves.
How would you describe dating life at Whitman?
“There’s not much to say, because it’s pretty shitty.” –– sophomore Sam Halgren
“I’d say it’s non-existent.” –– first-year Adrienne Beebe
“I would say dating life at Whitman is . . . interesting. It seems dating life branches off in two ways: hook up, or going on a first date.” –– first-year Devyani Gupta
“There really isn’t a blatant dating culture here. If people are in relationships, they are generally subtle about it.” –– sophomore Katy Whitmer
Where do you go to meet people?
“Parties, Reid, the library, Salsa Dance Magic.” –– junior Nik Hagen
“Dance workshops.” –– first-year Anne Szeliski
“I met my boyfriend playing Beirut at TKE, we danced at each other like nerds, and then began texting the next day. My friend though met her boyfriend at the gym.” –– Gupta
“We met in the lounge.” –– first-year Ana Greeley
What is the funniest pick-up line you’ve heard?
“Does this smell like Chloroform?” –– first-year Julie Peterson
“Are you from Tennessee? Because you’re the only ‘Ten-I-see.'” –– first-year Joan Tran
What do you find attractive?
“Have an accent.” –– Greeley
“Tall men. After that, a guy who makes me laugh so hard I may fall over, or has interesting or beautiful eyes.” –– Gupta
What are some good places to go on a date around Walla Walla/Whitman College?
“Coffee Perk. Or you could take a walk by the reservoir or Pioneer Park.” –– first-year Alison Good
“The Patisserie, but for dessert. Spy on any girl talking to her friends about a guy and you’ll hear, ‘The Patisserie? Eeeee!’ Get her a crÃ¨me brÃ»lée.” –– Gupta
“Taqueria is the shit!” –– first-year Helen Brown
Have you ever asked/been asked out by someone at Whitman?
“Yes. Sushi at Aloha Sushi off of Main––very social atmosphere––and then another guy took me to the Patisserie for chai hot chocolates.” –– Gupta
“Nope.” –– Tran
Girls, would you ask a guy out on a date? Why or why not?
“I think I would venture out as far as asking to get coffee . . . I think it’s good for men to take that extra step and ask a girl out, but girls are hard to read as is, and I understand how sometimes, a girl has to say something.” –– Gupta
“I don’t think so. I don’t think I’d have the courage.” –– first-year Sanika Gupte
After his hour-long presentation, Coleman started an informal speed dating and Q&A session in the back. The Pioneer spoke to several students about their reaction to the lecture.
“I think it just helped me be honest with myself and, you know, realize that decisions that I make may not the best, and that I deserve better than I think I do,” said first-year Laura Neff.
“I feel it went pretty well, but he enforces a lot of heteronormativity and I think that’s bullshit,” said junior Peter Mullins.
Mullins also offered his assessment of the reasons behind the current dating doldrums afflicting Whitman.
“I think people are ashamed of their sexuality, deep down, and that’s why it only goes down drunk on the weekends. And everyone’s too busy.”
“I really liked [the lecture],” said first-year Alisha Agard. “It shed a lot of light on questions that I had, and insecurities and fears; it kind of helped me get over that. I’m the kind of person that’s kind of shy and doesn’t really like to go after my love interests, but I feel like after hearing him speak, I might try to go for that.”