He Said She Said #1 – ‘Dating Material’

Violet columnist Lauren Diamond writes in her new column about the Cambridge dating scene and shares the answers from the people of Cambridge to a series of questions about the mysterious world of relationships.

Lauren diamond

Olivia Lisle IG@livecollage

If you and your friends are anything like mine, you probably spend way, WAY too long talking about relationships (and sex). It only gets worse this time of year: cold nights, short days, national lockdown. Classic February! Maybe it’s the allure, maybe it’s the mystique – maybe it’s the opportunity to casually post the back of your partner’s head on an Instagram story and show all the people you went to school with that you’re not just a Cambridge neek and have, in fact, managed to pull.

The thing is, based on the Cambridge dating scene (read: the Cindies smoking area, RIP), it seems that all this chat has come to nothing. We’re still as clueless as ever. That’s where this column comes in. I’ve invited some of the brilliant young students of Cambridge to admit to their ignorance and submit need-to-know questions that they’ve always wanted to ask but for some reason or another have never felt able to. Yours truly then swapped the questions, getting the same students to give honest answers to the other side’s deepest, darkest queries. *

One thing to bear in mind that I’ve personally realised, after talking to my friends about this, is that the answers to these questions vary so, so much from person to person. At the end of the day, it’s never about fitting your behaviour to fit someone else’s ideal, but about finding someone who aligns with you just the way you are. (Aww. Vomit.)

Okay, with the obligatory (boring) ~love yourself~ stuff said – let’s get into it. This week, my sources asked and answered questions surrounding the age-old enigma: what makes someone “dating material”?

How much is personality REALLY worth?

Apparently, when it’s just physical and nothing long-term, personality is “almost irrelevant”. Harsh. Short-term, physical attraction and sexual chemistry are tip top, the most important. However, everyone agreed that when it comes to considering and eventually choosing a partner for the long-term, personality shoots up to become absolutely numero uno. They could be the fittest person in the world, but if you’re not vibing then the relationship is DOA. God knows, even the best of us couldn’t hold conversations with everyone we’ve kissed in the club. Yes, it depends on the situation, but at the end of the day, personality is make or break.

What makes a guy an arsehole vs. confident?

Being an arsehole and being confident can be two sides of the same coin, it’s true. My friends said that it’s totally fine to gas yourself up as long as you make everyone else around you feel that way too. However, if you’re confident and use that as a way to show off or put others down, that’s when you verge on being an arsehole. It’s a fine line but oh so important! Being confident is attractive in romantic and platonic relationships – if you rate yourself, odds are you’ll only surround yourself with people you rate too. Building confidence in a global pandemic can be tricky, it’s true – my only recommendation is putting on a banging playlist on your next lockdown walk and pretending you’re the protagonist in an early 2000s music video. Nothing like imagining you’re at the centre of a beefy love triangle to boost confidence.

What determines if someone is “good enough” to date?

Similar to the question about personality, “good enough to date” really means that you click with someone on romantic and platonic levels. It doesn’t matter which came first, but both have to be there. Personality and character (including things like hobbies, habits, aspirations, etc.) make someone “good enough to date” – so even though it might feel like it sometimes, there’s really no such thing as “good enough”. Vibes are inherently subjective (basically Einstein’s theory of relativity, trust me).

Why do you say you want nice, sensitive guys but often end up going for more confident guys who treat you badly?

(First of all, tea, lol.) A lot of people felt like this was a misleading question. My ~sources~ felt that oftentimes, “nice, sensitive guys” are just a different kind of dickhead. There isn’t a hard and fast line between the two; like all of Darwin’s species, arseholes learn to adapt. If they feel like being nice and sensitive will sell themselves better, they might go with that. In the words of one of my friends: “when they introduce themselves as a nice guy, you RUN.”

One of my friends offered a different perspective, saying it depended on what you were looking for. “Nice, sensitive guys,” may come across as “a bit boring and vanilla” whereas “confident guys who treat you badly” are more fun and have better chat and/or banter. Her words, not mine! Most people tend to give the benefit of the doubt too, especially when you like someone – so you don’t go into it thinking they’re going to treat you badly. Either way, I guess the verdict is still out on this one…

The thing is, unlike in the movies, people typically don’t fall into binaries of “good” and “bad”. Being “confident” and “sensitive” aren’t mutually exclusive. We’re all multifaceted creatures with positive and negative qualities, and we can show these sides of ourselves at different times to different people.

What makes men get cold feet and stop being interested? Is it something women do or is it something else?

One person was straight with this one: “sometimes the effort is too much. Nothing against you, just long to hustle.” Deep.

Thankfully, we got a bit more insight elsewhere. A common answer was that the guy might have just been throwing some bait out to see if he could catch anything (sorry for the rogue fishing reference). If you reply, it shows him that he could have you if he wanted you, so that might have been all he wanted to know from the conversation. Sneaky – I thought you really wanted to know how the spag-bol you saw me getting ingredients for in Mainsbury’s turned out 


Mountain View

The Bottom Shelf, Part 3

Bottom Shelf, Part 3

So, there you go! Go forth and find yourself a Lent term sweetheart to take out on sexy Covid-safe walks to Jack’s Gelato or Covid-safer drinks over Zoom. If not, don’t fret – buy yourself that pack of heart-shaped truffles and bottle of rosé and enjoy the benefits of single life. Next column we’ll be discussing encounters of a distinctly less romantic kind.

*As a disclaimer, the students I consulted represent a range of colleges and years and identify across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.