How to Find Love in Cambridge: A Loser’s Guide

Rachel Imrie details the ups and downs of trying to build genuine human connections when surrounded by a pile of essays and a sense of impending doom.

Rachel Imrie

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Cantab in possession of romantic desire must be in want of a distraction from supervision deadlines and looming loneliness. Such pursuits often produce results along the lines of lifelong companionship and happiness. Or, more often, hundreds of wasted hours, disastrous heartbreak and a total distraction from what we’re actually meant to be doing here. Y’know, that pricey thing called a degree.

Whether it’s the mutual doublethink that that regrettable freshers’ week hook-up never really happened with your fellow staircase resident, or avoiding eye contact with your ex when choosing between Weetabix and Coco Pops in Sainsbury’s, the Cambridge dating scene is, let’s face it, an absolute train wreck.

“It’s like Love Island with more therapy.”

Sure, there are those few happy couples who we’ll call smug, if only to mitigate our own jealousy: that one long distance couple who didn’t immediately lose touch and cheat on each other as soon as they got to their respective universities, the pair that got together once in Cindies and both felt the elusive ‘spark’ as ABBA rang out in the background, and maybe even an impressive Tinder success story.

The rest of us, however, must bumble along. We persevere in Cambridge’s veritable minefield of dating apps, hook-up culture, and vague Crushbridges that could maybe, possibly, potentially, be about us (hey, you wore a blue top once and have occasionally been known to wander the plains of Sidgewick). All the while, as we sift through all the good, bad and ugly that Cambridge has to offer, we find ourselves slowly giving up on the notion that we’ll meet the love of our life at university.


Mountain View

How to find love in 8 weeks or less

Sometimes it feels as though Cambridge is set up for us to fail in this respect. For one thing, we have only eight weeks to cultivate another’s interest, hopefully laying the soil for a romantic connection which still has only a slim chance of blossoming. For another, what kind of social anarchist thought it would be a good idea to put thousands of Type A individuals in a small, high stress bubble with minimal connection to the outside world? Not only that, but let’s actually encourage them, via media and engrained cultural expectations, to fraternise and reproduce. It’s like Love Island with more therapy.

Yet we continue to hope that we will find eternal love in our early twenties. We idealise the great romances of yesteryear, when people married younger and standards were, quite frankly, lower. Once upon a time, courtships were limited by the restraints of geography and population sizes. But now, with the advent of dating apps and the hordes of people alive, there is an apparently infinite number of options, and thus a far less pressing need to compromise. That is unless, of course, you have received the demoralising notification that ‘there’s no one new in your area’, attaining the new, unenviable low. Even Tinder is telling you to stop punching.

And perhaps we should. Maybe realising that perfection doesn’t exist, and that compromise is not only necessary but beneficial, is the key to finding love at Cambridge. Or maybe we should wait ad infinitum for that special someone. At the end of the day, I’m just a girl, standing like a lovelorn madwoman in the middle of King’s parade, quickly realising that none of us know what the hell we are doing anyway. As with the work at Cambridge, we’ve just got to hope for the best and see what happens.