Modern day romance means putting needs in writing


Claire Gilliland, Editor-in-Chief

Modern-day romance may include cuddling up with a significant other to watch rom-coms, going out to dinner and, as it turns out, relationship contracts.

Dating contracts may seem like a strange concept; after all, there doesn’t seem to be much romance in sitting down with a partner to outline how to behave with each other.

“I think that if I were to make some sort of dating contract or agreement, it would be more focused on making sure that the people are compatible and are on the same page than laying out specific events or anything like that,” senior Julian Bernado said.

“I feel like relationships do need some arguments here and there, otherwise it’s not real,” senior Kim Hoang said.

Many agree, however, that there is some merit in relationship contracts.

“I guess the objective behind [relationship contracts] is pretty genuine, like they don’t want anything bad to happen within the relationship,” Hoang said.

“It’s definitely a good idea to ensure that both parties have the same idea and that there are not any hurt feelings because of different ideas,” Bernado said.

Writer Mandy Len Catron argues that dating contracts can ultimately help relationships stay stable.

“The contract spells out everything, from… chores to finances to our expectations for the future,” Catron said in an article for “The New York Times” entitled “To Stay in Love, Sign on the Dotted Line.”

There are generally some things that people expect or hope for, behavior-wise, in a partner that could be outlined in a dating contract.

“No cheating,” Hoang said. “Take out the trash, because I hate taking out the trash. I hate the smell of it.”

“I think if you are at the point where [laying out necessary things before a relationship] needs to be a real contract, I think that’s a bit excessive and making a relationship seem more objective than a relationship should be,” Bernado said.

However, many believe that these things do not necessarily need to be laid out by a contract and can instead be a spoken or understood agreement.

“I’m pretty much a chill person, to be honest, like I’m okay with whatever they do,” Hoang said. “[A relationship contract] is very restrictive.”

Catron says that a relationship contract can prove especially helpful to those who have been in a particularly bad relationship before, as it can help them clearly define what they want in their future relationships to protect themselves from another bad relationship.

“At 20, I gave myself over to love,” Catron said. “In my next relationship, I decided that I would love more moderately, keeping more of me for myself.”

Even though a relationship contract worked for Catron and her significant other, not all couples or individuals are the same, so the idea could end up hurting other relationships rather than helping.

“I feel like it would harm the relationship… because it’s like you’re not trusting each other to do something, and you have to make [your significant other] sign to be trustworthy,” Hoang said.

Despite how odd many think dating contracts are, Catron stands by them.

“It’s amazing how empowering this can feel: to name your desires or insecurities, however small, and make space for them,” Catron said. “For the first time in my life, I feel as if there is room for me in my relationship, and space for us to decide exactly how we want to practice love.”

Catron has also tried another widely unknown practice in terms of relationships: on a first date, a couple asks each other 36 questions to help them fall in love. The questions include “Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?”, “Do you rehearse what you say before making a phone call and why?” and “Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?”

To some, this idea may seem far-fetched.

“I think that’s so restricting on the first date,” Hoang said. “I guess the first date’s supposed to be awkward … but it’s also supposed to be the first step of letting loose and becoming relaxed with your partner or potential partner.”

“Thirty-six questions can be useful and [they] can be a good way to get to know each other, and if it doesn’t feel forced, then that’s fine, but if it feels forced and awkward then that’s just kind of too much,” Bernado said. “I think that the natural flow of conversation should just follow a path in which you’re eventually going to learn to know each other and maybe love each other.”

Catron, however, maintains that these questions helped her set the path for her current relationship.

“[The questions] helped us think about love not as luck or fate, but as the practice of really bothering to know someone, and allowing that person to know you,” Catron said.