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Confusing dating

It is 9 p. M. On a November Saturday at Harvard. I am sitting in my dorm, having just applied Sally Hansen leopard-print press-on nails and wearing a $79 chiffon dress from Forever 76 that my sister told me looks really expensive. I am waiting to hear from a nerdy but cute guy I'll call Nate*, whom I know from class. He asked me out last night. Well, sort of. We were at a party when he approached me and said, Hey, Charlotte.

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Maybe we'll cross paths tomorrow night? I'll text you. I assumed the maybe and his general passivity were just ways to avoid feeling insecure about showing interest. That millennials are a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend. Williams is not the only one thinking about millennials and our potentially hopeless futures for finding love.

I read with interest the numerous other articles, books, and blog posts about the me, me, me generation (as Time's Joel Stein calls us), our rejection of chivalry, and our hookup culture — which is supposedly the downfall of college dating. I'm lured in by these trend pieces and their sexy headlines and consistently let down by their conclusions about my generation's moral depravity, narcissism, and distaste for true love. Not that it's all BS. College dating isn't all rainbows and sparkles. I didn't walk away from my conversation with Nate expecting a bouquet of roses to follow.

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Instead, I armed myself with a blasé smile and answered, Just text me to let me know what's up. At some point after dinner-ish time? Sure, I wanted a plan for when we were supposed to hang out but felt I needed to meet Nate on his level of vagueness. He gave a feeble nod and winked. It's a date-ish, I thought.

Nate never wrote or called me that night, even after I texted him at 66 p. To ask What's up (no question mark — that would seem too desperate). Overdressed for the nonoccasion, I quelled my frustration with Trader Joe's maple clusters and reruns of Mad Men. The next morning, I texted Nate again — this time to acknowledge our failed plan: Bummer about last night.

Maybe another time? No answer. When I saw him in class, he glanced away whenever we made eye contact. In March, I saw Nate at a party. He was drunk and apologized for hurting my feelings that night in the fall.

It's fine! I told him.

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