For those of you in a sorority, you know that recruitment is four days of rigorous, grueling, exhausting but fun girl flirting. We meet hundreds of Potential New Members (PNMs), try our best to get to know them in time frames of 15 – 45 minutes and attempt to imagine a life-long future with them. Sometimes we see potential in someone who doesn’t necessarily feel the same way, sometimes we give someone an extra chance to see if they have what we’re looking for and other times we just know if it’s going to work out or not.
Sound familiar? Sorority recruitment is exactly like dating. But if only dating were just like sorority recruitment. The process, the mutual selection, the endless excitement and butterflies, the “there’s-always-tomorrow,” and – can’t forget – the contracts.
So imagine if PNMs were PNBs – Potential New Boyfriends.
They pay a fee to register to meet us – they’re paying to meet us? That’s so sweet! First sign of commitment.
They wear their best outfit, shower, do their hair, make sure their nails look nice and they smell good. Already off to a great first impression.
They let us sing our favorite songs and just smile through it even if we’re off-pitch or have bad timing at the ending.
PNBs are so interested to hear that you’re from out of state or that you’re studying Communications because – small world! – they are too! And even if they don’t particularly relate or care, they act like they do. You could be talking about erasers or your favorite pair of socks and PNBs will make you think you just told them where to find one million dollars on the BU bridge or that you can eat T-Anthony’s every night without gaining any weight. Shoot, they might even say they want to eat T-Anthony’s with you. Winning.
You, as the PNB recruiter, get to meet hundreds of PNBs and so do your sisters; then you all think about who would be the most committed, is interesting, smart, well-kept, fun, nice, kind – you know, everything you look for in a PNB. One day you might want to bring them home to Mom and Dad so they’ve got to have a good head on their shoulders.
You keep in mind that it was just the first time you met and that anyone can surprise you. At the same time, these PNBs are making their selections on you. Yes, just like in real life PNBs judge you, too. You wonder: did they like me? do they want a second chance? Sounds kind of like waiting for a text after a first date…
Alas, the next day you know that hundreds of PNBs are still in the running and that no matter what there are still amazing options. You don’t have to just pick one – in this version of dating you get to pick a whole class of them. You may not see that PNB come through the door you thought you hit it off with but hey there are plenty of fish in the PNB sea. It’s the second “date” so you put your game face on and keep in mind that these PNBs have as much choice as you have for where they end up.
You go to sleep that night knowing that in the morning you’ll find out if the feelings you have for these PNBs are mutual. You wake up early, do your hair, put on your cutest (jewel-toned) dress and anticipate another long but rewarding day of searching for The One (aka The 47). You introduce them to more of your friends because if you love them, they’ll love them and vice-versa. Just like Mom or Grandma would, you show them photos of you and your friends from you were freshmen or when you went apple picking, attended formals and raised money for charity. Sure, you might be bragging a bit but you’re looking for your PNB and this is serious business.
Once the day is done, your (jewel-toned) dress is replaced with leggings and your sore feet feel relieved in Uggs or Nikes and it’s time to cuddle up together and see if your closest girlfriends think the PNB you love is right for you. Remember Gretchen Weiner’s advice that you can’t buy a skirt without asking your friends if it looks good on you first. We can’t? “Right. Oh, and it’s the same with guys. Like, you may think you like someone, but you could be wrong.” Whatever happened to Toaster Strudel anyway?
But even if we’re not right for them or they’re not for us, that’s okay because there’s someone out there for everyone – we’re still so young, remember?
At this point you’ve been through three long days of PNB flirting and opening up your heart and sharing your friends. You hope that the ones you love feel the same way and on the 4th date you see who does. You’re wearing your LBD and the PNBs even wore cocktail attire – they really put a lot of thought into this. Finally, someone who likes to dress up like we do. Fresh breath of air! You spend time with someone you maybe had a special connection with a few days back or want to get to know more – you open your heart up a little and let them hear about why you think this is the right place for you, the right place for them.
You give speeches to explain the people you’ve had in your life and describe the PNB you’re looking for. Sometimes tears are shed, but mostly out of happiness and nostalgia. And PNBs don’t think it’s weird or clingy that you’re crying, they think it’s sweet and endearing. Crying without being called a Stage-5 clinger? Sold.
The night comes to an end and you wave goodbye knowing that tomorrow you’ll find out who your soulmate(s) are. In this world of dating, knowing you get more than one is better than Christmas. 47 Valentines, 47 extra birthday wishes, 47 cute photos together at special events, 47 people you care about and care about you. Your mantra: you did your best to represent yourself and everything happens for a reason. But this time when you say that, you know that it’s true and not just your roommate or sister saying that to make you feel better. And in this world you’re probably not ingesting Ben & Jerry’s when they tell you that.
You can’t sleep that night knowing you will get your NBs in just a few hours. You don’t care about the past four days because soon it won’t make a difference – you’ll love whomever you end up with and know it’s meant to be.
You get to pick their t-shirt for your first official meeting as being together and no matter what it looks like they’ll love it. Finally, we get to dress them with no argument. We tell our NBs that they’re the one(s) through a handwritten card – ugh we’re so cute – and they run to us with arms wide, huge smiles and in that moment all of the hard work, anxiety, searching, talking, opening up, lack of sleep and outfit changes are worth it because your NBs are here and they’re perfect. It’s love at first sight, 47 times over.
Just like sorority recruitment and dating, we know that sometimes – hopefully not, but sometimes – it doesn’t work out and people may decide to go back to their lives without us. That will be okay though because are dozens of others who are still happy to be with you. Unlike when a real boyfriend breaks your heart, in this universe you have so many others ready to step up.
Now imagine if dating really was like sorority recruitment. If an NB does choose to go their separate way, they have to wait a full year before dating anyone else. How great would that be in the real world of dating?
So while sorority recruitment may have characteristics of dating, the opposite is not entirely true. But it’s okay to imagine what life would be like if it was.