The guest writer of this article has requested to remain anonymous.
To some, dealing with the opposite sex is not simply a matter of minding the platform gap. It is a veritable chasm, with most of us hailing from four years of single-sex schools. Junior college brings boys and girls together not only in learning, but also in socialisation. Some things are for sure: you’ll make wonderful friends, male and female alike, and you’ll learn a fair bit about the opposite sex. Girls will learn how smelly boys can be, and boys will –or not– get used to casual period talk. Boys will not always understand female emotional intricacies, and it takes a long time to get used to guy leg hair.
There are a ton of avenues to get to know others in JC: orientation, classes, lecture groups, CCA, through mutual friends, camps… The list is endless! It is a whirlwind of social life within the walls of the Year 5/6 campus, and couples are a natural result. A statistic speculates that there are well over fifty couples in the batch by the end of the first year. There is at least one couple, or someone in a relationship, in almost every class. Budding romances will be all around you; some will shock you, some will disappoint, and others you’ll grin at and cheer on from the sidelines.
Still, there always exists that Singaporean mantra ‘studies come first’. “I’m not allowed to have a boyfriend till I’m in university,” shrugs a Year 6. “Relationships can be a huge distraction with the commitment and all, and coming from Raffles the pressure to perform (for A levels) is especially high.”
Studies, disapproval from parents, and the two-year admissions staggering due to National Service are the three most common cons naysayers have quoted. They are indeed valid concerns, as junior college is primarily a preparation for the mightily important A-level exams. Studies aside, there have been several interesting responses from Year Sixes interviewed who have had crushes and confessions, yet don’t envision themselves attached. One cites a fear of commitment, and another insists boys are like brothers to her.
“They are playful and childish,” she laughs. “In a good way! They are great friends, but I prefer to wait for them to go through NS and mature first before you know, looking for a husband. I’m the conventional type who wants to date only when I can see a lifetime with that person, and I kinda get the feeling that will scare any boys off.” She looked pretty embarrassed, but sportingly added, “Some of the boys my friends are dating are mature though, and seem to really care for (my friend) and value her as a best friend, so I’m happy for them! But nope, just guy friends for me for now.”
Of course, there is always the teenage Romeo-and-Juliet question: is he/she in love with their partner, or in love with the idea of love? When asked why he thought his male peers entered relationships, one boy said, “I guess there are always a variety of reasons, like companionship, and most truly like the girl and want to commit to her. I know of some guys who go into relationships looking to show off, or for sex. They are a minority though, but personally I feel girls make better friends for now.”
Who then, is ready for a relationship? When is the right age or the right time, who is the right person? No one will know this but yourself. However, before any self-assessment one needs to grasp two simple facts.
The first fact, and probably the harshest reality: any couple is either going to break up or end up married. The more poignant second: a relationship is an investment, a commitment, a work in progress.
There are bound to be crushes in JC. Someone glimpses a cute guy at an IHC and the next hour she is texting her ‘spy’ contacts for info. Someone else sees a pretty female acquaintance walking his way, and stares straight ahead refusing to make eye contact. Numbers are exchanged whether by traditional, awkward face-to-face requests (by the way boys, this does impress girls. We asked.) or via Twitter, Facebook or mutual friends.
Not all crushes develop into something more. Many are, at most, a lively source of conversation among friends and something to look forward to in school. And for those guys and girls brave enough to make the first move, not all meet with favourable replies.
“There’s CCA, schoolwork, enrichments, plus I still wish to spend time with my secondary school friends. You actually have to put a lot of time and effort into a relationship to make it work, and some boys, when they ask, don’t really know the girl well or are truly serious about it,” says a Year 6 girl, who turned down a confession early in her J1 year.
“But,” she adds, “I’m honestly happy for my friends (in relationships), especially couples who seem compatible and complement each other! The boys are generally really sweet and caring. So no, I don’t feel much worry for them, especially if they are doing well in school or know full well the heavy commitment.”
Raffles Press interviewed a Year 6 girl, who has been with her boyfriend for over a year. It was hardly a whirlwind courtship, for they were close friends for two years before they went official. They have faced all the traditional obstacles; from high-commitment CCAs and leadership roles to classwork and parents. She shares with us her favourite part about being attached.
“The best part is that there’s this mutual support. Like you know on your worst days when you feel like something’s always going wrong, that special person will always be there for you to make it better. It’s really all about support, and it’s more than having a best friend because on a deeper level, there’s a sense of security.”
However, she also admits that couples are seldom prepared for the effort relationships require to work out, especially with grades and other CCA or social commitments. “It’s about what you value, I guess,” she says. “If you value it all: grades, your relationship, free time, and you aren’t willing to sacrifice, you’re in for a rough ride.”
Relationships in JC can be amazing, and for the general school populace, a great churner of the gossip mill. To our newly-minted Year 5s: there’ll be couples, there’ll be breakups. But there are also many ways of maintaining special friendships with members of the opposite sex through study dates, mutual agreements to put special relationships on hold till exams pass.
Junior college will ultimately be two of the most eventful and fast-paced years of your life. Relationships may crop up on the sidelines, but even the sweetest couples can tell you that there is nothing as important or special as friendship. Most couples start as friends anyway, and let us tell you this: you will have times of fun (and stress), you will spend time maturing with your peers, and you will find friendships that are for life, whether with a spark of romance or not.
We loved being in Year 5, we hope you do too! Raffles Press wishes all incoming students a great two years in RJC :)
In the meantime, have fun dating your books."Please Mind The Platform Gap: Relationships in RI",