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College Senior Has Flings but Longs for True Love

The New York Times' "Modern Love College Essay Contest" featured a "finalist" article by college senior Lauren Petersen. Ms. Peterson met Michael on a dating app where women make the first move. She wasn't looking for a relationship, let alone love. "Everything about us was temporary," she wrote. "We would talk a little, watch a little and then go to bed. In the morning, I would zip up my coat while he asked, 'Heading out?' I would nod and say, 'Thanks for the toast.' There was a rhythm to it. Monday night, pack my bag. Tuesday morning, walk home."

But then she broke the rules: she started to want more out of the relationship:

I started daydreaming about how the moonlight trickled in while he played me his jazz records, how he chuckled and buried his face in his hands after I explained my odd internships, and how he held up a picture of his family and described each of his brothers.
For a second, my future brimmed with Michael: his records, his quiet demeanor but abrasive sense of humor, his shamelessness in recounting the time he was struck with food poisoning at a hostel in San Francisco. Then another text appeared: "It's just that I'm apprehensive about the commitment." When I clarified that I didn't expect a long-term commitment, with our coming graduation, he expressed his real concern: "Monogamy." I wanted to leave the game behind and develop something special, if only for a short time. Yet Michael hesitated. It struck me that the "fling" was dead.

Petersen concludes on a sad note, longing for something more—true love:

A mere six weeks after our first date, we were over. I'd broken the rules; my glimmer of expressed affection had led to a fatal imbalance in the game. Feeling a little dispensable, I opened Bumble to pause my account. … A notification flashed, indicating that I had been right-swiped by a few people: 1,946 people. As the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea, and it turned out my sea held 1,946 of them. The "play again?" button glowed brighter than ever. And yet, almost comically, I wanted to date only one particular person.

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