Relationships: être ensemble – “to be together”

An article published today in the Wall Street JournalFind a Man Today, Graduate Tomorrow by Emily Esfahani Smith is sure to spark some discussion.

The author (a member of Generation iY, or maybe just Y – and married) quotes her mother as telling her a few years ago: “You’re in college…There will never be a better time to meet someone…so start looking.”

Like Jenny, the main character in my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, I tend to like people who are direct – as long as they aren’t unkind or insensitive. I also happen to agree with that mom, who’s a member of my generation.


The Wedding Cake of a bride and groom
who met in college and got married last year

I know – declaring that I agree with her may not be wise. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who disagree – or, at least, who find that mom’s instruction advice distasteful  offensive somewhat objectionable. I’m not fond of confrontation…but I think there’s more to college life than academics, and more to life afterward than career, for women – and for men.

In a word, relationships.

I suppose I’m biased, because I met my husband when we were in college. Many of my friends met their husbands years later, either at work or through friends. Some married after going to graduate school, after beginning their careers, or both. I wonder sometimes how difficult it was for them to find the right man.

A few of my friends met their husbands (and got married) younger than I did; I found “The One” – my One – in college. It was (and I’m sure still is) a great place to meet guys, and to get to know them. When your biggest stress is writing a paper or studying for an exam (or both), well, it’s not like having the responsibilities of adult life, even single adult life. Normally, when you’re in college, you have a lot more time available for friendships, fun and dating.

I didn’t set out “looking” for someone when I arrived at college, but I did look for relationships with friends – male and female – and I can’t imagine why young people today would not. You can have your cake and eat it, too relationships and achieve your academic and career goals, too. And sometimes, male friends can develop into something more…one of mine did.

I don’t apologize for finding the love of my life – or for him finding me – in college. Yes, we were both immature, but we matured together. I wanted company, and so did he. Turns out, initially, you’re going to be a rookie at adulthood. You can either do it alone, or do it with someone you love.

Perhaps because I did it with him, ça me fait en colère (it makes me mad) when I sometimes hear others say (self-righteously?) that it isn’t smart to do so… or that (since they did not?) no one should. Jenny in MAKE THAT DEUX (and her friends, and basically, her whole generation) believes that it’s just fine to find that special someone in college.

Pourquoi pas?

DSC00281 copy

Call me, maybe, but don’t break my heart: Sortir avec quelqu’un

From what I’ve seen, dating has changed since mon époque.* But I wonder why les jeunes filles gens of today sometimes make going out with someone more difficult than it used to be.

It’s been years decades since I’ve sorti avec mon copain — gone out with, or dated, my boyfriend (or any other guy – but not au même temps, of course). And though my husband and I have gone out on many a “date night” during our marriage, well, once you’re married, you’re not dating anymore.

But way back when, we were dating. Normalement, he would call me, ask me out, I would say “Yes,” and we would set up a rendez-vous (date). He would call me from a “land line” or even a pay-phone similar to the one in the photo, and I would answer the phone. If he called and I didn’t answer, it meant I wasn’t there, and he would call again. When the time for our date came, I would be almost ready, and we would go to a movie or out to dinner.

I’m not one to changer d’avis (change my mind) very often, so it worked.

But back then, when a guy called and asked you out, if you said “Yes,” you didn’t cancel on him at the last minute (or even before that), unless you got sick, someone died, or you had an accident. Yes meant yes, and it didn’t mean maybe. There was no easy way to cancel, anyway, like there is today. So you just went out — and had fun.

Like lots of people, I’ve enjoyed listening to a popular song recently that demonstrates (I think) how different dating is now:


Hey, I just met you,

And this is crazy,

But here’s my number,

So call me, maybe?


Hmm. Is she going to answer the call, I wonder? When I first heard those lines, it reminded me of a song that mon copain at UNC and I liked, featuring these lines:


Why do you build me up (build me up) Buttercup, baby 

Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around 

And then worst of all (worst of all) you never call, baby 

When you say you will (say you will) but I love you still 

I need you (I need you) more than anyone, darlin’ 

You know that I have from the start 

So build me up (build me up) Buttercup, don’t break my heart 


In my novel — about to be released — characters go on dates, and (because they live in a time before cell phones, or even answering machines) they don’t stand up their dates. They live up to their commitments, even if they’ve only committed to Saturday night. “Oui” means “Yes.”  

And like today, no one wants a broken heart.

* Autrefois, or back in MY day

Les Ados vs. Young (independent) Adults

The French word for teenagers is les adolescents. For short, les ados. No matter what country you live in, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The years between childhood and adulthood can be difficult, not only for les ados, but also for les parents. (Make that, ARE difficult. Sans doute.)

But they can also be rewarding, and even fun. And then one day they’re over. No more moodiness, drama, or driving lessons. C’est fini.

While my four kids were teenagers (and one still is), I read books about raising teens, novels about teens, and even the books my own teens were reading. Just recently I read Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future by Tim Elmore and Dan Cathy. I found it enlightening if troubling. And then I worried — some more.

But back to my topic: teens vs. Young (independent) Adults, or YiAs, I’ll call them. (A small “i” seems appropriate, and trendy.) YiAs ARE adults, even if young and inexperienced independent. They’re not teens wishing to be adults, with all the independence that adults enjoy. So why do teens read “Young Adult” novels? More important, given that real young adults (and old ones) read them as well, why must the protagonists of YA novels be teens (in high school)?

I wrote my first novel (to be released later this year) not specifically for the “Young Adult” audience, but for readers of any age — it was a story that was “in me” to write. Like Jessica Park, author of Flat-Out Love, I was told by publishing industry professionals that the (college) age of my protagonist (19) was too old for YA, and therefore my book wouldn’t sell. [See her recent terrific blog post, How Amazon Changed My Life]. Well, the professionals were wrong about Jessica’s book. I hope the same will be true for mine.

Ironically, my best beta-reader was a true young, independent adult. In her early twenties, she had spent a year of college in Europe; she related to my characters and gave me a ton of wonderful feedback. She has a “real” job, and though she is close to them, she lives far away from her parents. I’m old enough to be her mom (!), but it’s amazing how much she and I have in common.

If you’re a young adult, you can be independent, but if you’re an ado, alas, you can’t be, yet. (However, at age eighteen you can — almost. But that’s another topic.) Over two years ago, on my son’s nineteenth birthday, I stood by his side at the hospital as a doctor explained that he had a brain tumor. Treated as a legal adult by the medical staff, my son signed the paperwork for emergency surgery that was necessary to save his sight. Later that summer, he had to sign papers authorizing brain surgery at Duke. He survived cancer, something a great many adults never have to face.

That son of mine has changed a lot. I’m grateful he can read whatever he wants to read.

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