News

Harvard Students Return to Changed Campus Covid Restrictions

News

Some Harvard Classes Start Spring Semester Online Due to Omicron Surge

News

Harvard’s Graduate Student Union Files Complaint Over Spring Covid Policies

News

Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review Retracts Article, Admitting Editorial 'Failure'

News

Students, Faculty Reflect on 100 Years of Harvard Business School’s Case Method

Valentines Reflect On Harvard Love

College Relationships Face Barriers

By Sandhya R. Rao

It's Valentine's Day, and Chandra S. Harrell '95 says she and her girlfriend, K. Noelle Tune '94, will probably go dancing tonight.

Tonight, in fact, will be a respite from the day-to-day routine of a Harvard relationship. Harrell says it's a rare night out, though their relationship is close.

"Everytime she looks at me, I can tell she loves me," Harrell says.

Despite the rewards of feeling loved, having a relationship at Harvard isn't always easy, Harrell and other students in relationships say. And it can be especially tough if the relationship, like Harrell's, crosses traditional barriers.

Harrell, for example, says she hasn't told her parents about the relationship, or the fact that she is gay. The hard part about not having told her family, Harrell says is that she is unable to share the woman she loves with the people who raised her.

And while Harrell says most of her Harvard friends are supportive, the lack of privacy can make any College relationship, particularly a gay or bisexual one, trying.

"The main difficulty I think in having a relationship at Harvard is you don't have a private life," says Rachel A. Cohen '94, who is bisexual.

Privacy, however, is only one of the trials andtribulations of having a romantic relationship atHarvard. Students interviewed say they alsoregularly have to deal with annoyed roommates anda lack of time caused by busy schedules.

And some relationships present more difficultproblems--particularly when religion, race orsexuality are factors in the romance.

Privacy and the difficulties posed bygroup living are an almost universal concern amongthose involved in relationships.

Montana C. Miller '96 says she met her fiance,Matthew Paulson '93, in the fall of her firstyear. Although Paulson is in France this year,privacy in the dorms was one of the most seriousproblems they faced last year.

"It [was] annoying to me when [my roommateswere] in my space," Miller says. "And it [was]annoying to them when I [was] never home because I[was] with Matt."

Some roommates are more accomodating thanothers. One of Miller's roommates, CharlotteKaiser '96, says she did not mind the situation.She says that she got along with Paulson and gaveMiller the single.

"Our lives were pretty independent of eachother, but [all the roommates] really liked Matt,"Kaiser says.

And in Paulson's room, privacy was virtuallyimpossible, Miller says.

"He lived in a room with five senior guys [inEliot] which was quite a party center," Millersays. "It was just really hard to find a place tobe [alone] together," she says.

Sometimes, finding privacy requires makingadjustment. Marta R. Weiss '96 says she islearning to balance her relationship with WilliamG. Ferullo '96 and that her roomming situation ismuch better this year.

"I treated my room like a depository lastyear," she says.

But this year, Weiss says, "I am weary of nottreating my room and my roommates like that. Weeat a lot of meals together. I try and spend a lotof time in my room.

Having a roommate in a relationship can befrustrating, particularly when it means thatfriends see less of one another.

Alexis A. Zubrow '96 shares a triple withJoshua L. Oppenheimer '96, who is planning to getmarried this month to Catherine S. Corman '96.

"In the beginnning we were a little confusedand we missed him some," Zubrow says. "There aretimes that we are 'sex-iled.'"

Zubrow adds that the issue is not a bigproblem.

"But it's just what makes him happy so it makesus happy," Zubrow says.

Both Zachary Gozali '96 and Jonathan C.Korngold '96 have serious relationships, thoughtheir third roommate, Sean H. Cohan '96, does not.Korngold's girlfriend, Janie A. Ho '96, evenblocked with all three of them last year.

"I guess we're not as close," says Cohan,"because we'd probably spend more time together[if Zach and Jon didn't have girlfriends]."

At first, Cohan says, he and Korngold wereangry with Gozali because they felt they didn'thave a third roommate.

"Zach, at times, is away for extended periodsof time," Cohan says.

And Gozali acknowledges that his relationshipcan be a problem with his roommates. But becausehe and his roommates live in Currier House, Gozalisays he can't see them as much because hisgirlfriend lives in a river house.

"My roommates are really mad that I spend toomuch time at Leverett," Gozali says.

Of course, there are ways of getting aroundroommate problems. If there is no privacy forintimate acts in a dorm room, Miller says Harvardoffers "many great places to [have sex]."

"We did 10 different libraries in our lastsemester," says Miller, who recommends Gutmanbecause of the plush carpeting. "Widener wasreally uncomfortable."

And sex isn't necessarily limited to thelibraries.

"Let's just say we performed a rare stunt onthe ten-meter [diving] plat form," Miller says.

Harvard students say their busy academicand extracurricular schedules can makerelationship trying.

Gozali's girlfriend, Melissa M. Kwee '94, saysit is difficult to spend ample time on herclasswork as well as with her boyfriend.

"He just feels like I prioritize things overhim," Kwee says.

Marta Weiss, who dates William Ferullo, saysthat the fact she competes in intercollegiateathletics limits the time they can spend together.

"Crew definitely gets in the way of thing,"Weiss says.

However, some students say time apart can beconstructive.

Elizabeth C. Marlantes '96 says she and herboyfriend Nathan S. Tyrrell '95 don't spend asmuch time with each other as other serious datersdo. She says giving each other space to handleother obligations is the "saving grace" of theirrelationship.

"We probably don't see each other as much asother people [in serious relationship do],"Marlantes says. "I think that's really healthy."

Corman and Oppenheimer, who are getting marriedlater this month, say they spend a lot of time ontheir own, so their relationship is not toostifling.

"Having a serious relationship like this kindof closes your options," Corman says. "But both ofus have lot of freedom."

But time constraints can be a block toembarking on a relationship in the first place.Several students say their schedules are notconducive to a long-term relationship. "Mostpeople here are too caught up in themselves andwith their work [to have a serious relationship],"says Jennifer Tye '97.

"I don't know the definition of love--I'm apre-med," adds Khoa P. Le '97.

Serious daters recognize that they moss out onsome parts of Harvard. And some are not shy aboutquestioning their decision.

"I kind of miss flirting with people and theattention I don't get because everyone knows I'mwith Bill," says Weiss, adding that she is verylucky to have him as a boyfriend.

"We've talked about [dating other people] andit's thought that crosses my mind," says Ferullo,Weiss' boyfriend. "But why anything else [when]this has worked out best?"

Differences between people in arelationship can be a source ofconflict--particularly at Harvard, where manystudents are involved in romances for the firsttime.

Kwee and Gozali say age differences have beenan issue in their relationship. Kwee is two yearsolder than Gozali, and she says her friends usedto make fun of her for it.

"Just going to the Yard, I used to get a lot ofgrief from my friends," Kwee says.

Miller says she faced criticism about beingengaged as a first-year. But Miller, who took timeoff before college, is 23--one year older thanPaulson.

"I know [the engagement] was quick, but I guesswe just never had any doubts, even from thebeginning," says Miller. "I think we both feltright away that we were the right people for eachother."

Beyond age, race and religion are alsodeterminants of whom will pair off with whom.

Sahil Parikh '95, a member of the South AsianStudents Associations, says many students withinthe South Asian student community feel thatreligion is an issue in choosing who to date.

"A lot of students feel very strongly that theywould like to stay within their own religion andinside of that, within their owns ethnicity,"Parikh says.

Religion can also complicate the mix. Manystudents say that finding someone of the samereligious background is important to them.

"I personally wouldn't date someone who wasn'tJewish," says Ruth S. Raskas '96.

A Christian student, who spoke on condition ofanonymity, says that his policy against datingwomen of other religions is not for theologicalreasons, but because of his own experiences withinter-ethnic dating.

The student says he could never be intimatewith a woman who didn't understand his belief inGod.

Although they are not of the same religiousbackground, Weiss and Ferullo have discussed howto deal with the issue.

"He's Catholic and I'm Jewish, "Weiss says.["This year] I'm going to be pretty insistentabout him coming to my seder. I just want him tohave more of an understanding."

And Mohammed Asmal '95 says he cannot datebecause "dating is not a part of Islam. It's notgenerally accepted behavior."

Asmal said that Muslim men and women do not goout in private together though he finds thisdifficult "in a society where all your friends...date."

Some students say being in a gay romance canmake the relationship even closer.

Harrell, for example, says that spending almostall of her time with her girlfriend does not posea problem for their relationship.

"We pretty much fall in the married category,so we see each other all the time," Harrell says.

Some of the intimacy is a reaction to thepressures of being a gay Harvard student, saysTheodore K. Gideonse '96, who is gay.

"People feel they have to be secretive," saysGideonse. "You're in a fish bowl and everyone seeswhat you're doing and its prone to gossip."

When sexuality is an issue in the relationship,the traditional rules can change. Oppenheimer, whois bisexual, and Corman have also discussed theissue of seeing other people even after they getmarried, Oppenheimer says.

"Right now, we're moving towards a monogamousmarraige," he says.

Corman says she is willing to allow Oppenheimerto see others because he is bisexual.

"Because it's a matter of sexuality, it wouldbe a little restrictive," Corman says. "I knowthat the love that we share is so strong that itwouldn't be an issue of competition."

Oppenheimer and Corman say that even thoughthey are getting married after only four months ofengagement, their committment to each other isserious.

"The commitment and the connection isunshakable," Oppenheimer says. "[The wedding] isabsolutely not a [joke]. [Convincing friends thatit is not a joke has] been a source of stress."

Aside from the problems posed byHarvard's diverse and intense atmosphere, peoplesay they have found ways to spend time with theirsignificant other. All the couples interviewed saythey do something special for Valentine's Day.

This day last year, Ferullo wrote Weiss a song.The song was titled "Self Portrait of Marta," andFerullo played it for her on the piano. It was oneof the most romantic moments she ever had withFerullo, Weiss says.

"I was really touched," she says.

Weiss says that her most romantic moment withFerullo was at a drive-in-movie theater. "I hadnever been to one before," she says. "I grew up inNew York City, so I never made out in a car[before]."

The most daring thing she and Bill have donewas twice streaking through the yard while holdinghands, she says.

But despite all the problems they and othersface, Weiss and Ferullo say that being together isdefinitely worth it.

"It's going well, and sometimes I wonder what'swrong with this, it's too perfect," Weiss says."It's perfect, It's wonderful, I love him."Courtesy Kwee-GozaliZACHARY GOZALI '96 and MELISSA M. KWEE'94

Privacy, however, is only one of the trials andtribulations of having a romantic relationship atHarvard. Students interviewed say they alsoregularly have to deal with annoyed roommates anda lack of time caused by busy schedules.

And some relationships present more difficultproblems--particularly when religion, race orsexuality are factors in the romance.

Privacy and the difficulties posed bygroup living are an almost universal concern amongthose involved in relationships.

Montana C. Miller '96 says she met her fiance,Matthew Paulson '93, in the fall of her firstyear. Although Paulson is in France this year,privacy in the dorms was one of the most seriousproblems they faced last year.

"It [was] annoying to me when [my roommateswere] in my space," Miller says. "And it [was]annoying to them when I [was] never home because I[was] with Matt."

Some roommates are more accomodating thanothers. One of Miller's roommates, CharlotteKaiser '96, says she did not mind the situation.She says that she got along with Paulson and gaveMiller the single.

"Our lives were pretty independent of eachother, but [all the roommates] really liked Matt,"Kaiser says.

And in Paulson's room, privacy was virtuallyimpossible, Miller says.

"He lived in a room with five senior guys [inEliot] which was quite a party center," Millersays. "It was just really hard to find a place tobe [alone] together," she says.

Sometimes, finding privacy requires makingadjustment. Marta R. Weiss '96 says she islearning to balance her relationship with WilliamG. Ferullo '96 and that her roomming situation ismuch better this year.

"I treated my room like a depository lastyear," she says.

But this year, Weiss says, "I am weary of nottreating my room and my roommates like that. Weeat a lot of meals together. I try and spend a lotof time in my room.

Having a roommate in a relationship can befrustrating, particularly when it means thatfriends see less of one another.

Alexis A. Zubrow '96 shares a triple withJoshua L. Oppenheimer '96, who is planning to getmarried this month to Catherine S. Corman '96.

"In the beginnning we were a little confusedand we missed him some," Zubrow says. "There aretimes that we are 'sex-iled.'"

Zubrow adds that the issue is not a bigproblem.

"But it's just what makes him happy so it makesus happy," Zubrow says.

Both Zachary Gozali '96 and Jonathan C.Korngold '96 have serious relationships, thoughtheir third roommate, Sean H. Cohan '96, does not.Korngold's girlfriend, Janie A. Ho '96, evenblocked with all three of them last year.

"I guess we're not as close," says Cohan,"because we'd probably spend more time together[if Zach and Jon didn't have girlfriends]."

At first, Cohan says, he and Korngold wereangry with Gozali because they felt they didn'thave a third roommate.

"Zach, at times, is away for extended periodsof time," Cohan says.

And Gozali acknowledges that his relationshipcan be a problem with his roommates. But becausehe and his roommates live in Currier House, Gozalisays he can't see them as much because hisgirlfriend lives in a river house.

"My roommates are really mad that I spend toomuch time at Leverett," Gozali says.

Of course, there are ways of getting aroundroommate problems. If there is no privacy forintimate acts in a dorm room, Miller says Harvardoffers "many great places to [have sex]."

"We did 10 different libraries in our lastsemester," says Miller, who recommends Gutmanbecause of the plush carpeting. "Widener wasreally uncomfortable."

And sex isn't necessarily limited to thelibraries.

"Let's just say we performed a rare stunt onthe ten-meter [diving] plat form," Miller says.

Harvard students say their busy academicand extracurricular schedules can makerelationship trying.

Gozali's girlfriend, Melissa M. Kwee '94, saysit is difficult to spend ample time on herclasswork as well as with her boyfriend.

"He just feels like I prioritize things overhim," Kwee says.

Marta Weiss, who dates William Ferullo, saysthat the fact she competes in intercollegiateathletics limits the time they can spend together.

"Crew definitely gets in the way of thing,"Weiss says.

However, some students say time apart can beconstructive.

Elizabeth C. Marlantes '96 says she and herboyfriend Nathan S. Tyrrell '95 don't spend asmuch time with each other as other serious datersdo. She says giving each other space to handleother obligations is the "saving grace" of theirrelationship.

"We probably don't see each other as much asother people [in serious relationship do],"Marlantes says. "I think that's really healthy."

Corman and Oppenheimer, who are getting marriedlater this month, say they spend a lot of time ontheir own, so their relationship is not toostifling.

"Having a serious relationship like this kindof closes your options," Corman says. "But both ofus have lot of freedom."

But time constraints can be a block toembarking on a relationship in the first place.Several students say their schedules are notconducive to a long-term relationship. "Mostpeople here are too caught up in themselves andwith their work [to have a serious relationship],"says Jennifer Tye '97.

"I don't know the definition of love--I'm apre-med," adds Khoa P. Le '97.

Serious daters recognize that they moss out onsome parts of Harvard. And some are not shy aboutquestioning their decision.

"I kind of miss flirting with people and theattention I don't get because everyone knows I'mwith Bill," says Weiss, adding that she is verylucky to have him as a boyfriend.

"We've talked about [dating other people] andit's thought that crosses my mind," says Ferullo,Weiss' boyfriend. "But why anything else [when]this has worked out best?"

Differences between people in arelationship can be a source ofconflict--particularly at Harvard, where manystudents are involved in romances for the firsttime.

Kwee and Gozali say age differences have beenan issue in their relationship. Kwee is two yearsolder than Gozali, and she says her friends usedto make fun of her for it.

"Just going to the Yard, I used to get a lot ofgrief from my friends," Kwee says.

Miller says she faced criticism about beingengaged as a first-year. But Miller, who took timeoff before college, is 23--one year older thanPaulson.

"I know [the engagement] was quick, but I guesswe just never had any doubts, even from thebeginning," says Miller. "I think we both feltright away that we were the right people for eachother."

Beyond age, race and religion are alsodeterminants of whom will pair off with whom.

Sahil Parikh '95, a member of the South AsianStudents Associations, says many students withinthe South Asian student community feel thatreligion is an issue in choosing who to date.

"A lot of students feel very strongly that theywould like to stay within their own religion andinside of that, within their owns ethnicity,"Parikh says.

Religion can also complicate the mix. Manystudents say that finding someone of the samereligious background is important to them.

"I personally wouldn't date someone who wasn'tJewish," says Ruth S. Raskas '96.

A Christian student, who spoke on condition ofanonymity, says that his policy against datingwomen of other religions is not for theologicalreasons, but because of his own experiences withinter-ethnic dating.

The student says he could never be intimatewith a woman who didn't understand his belief inGod.

Although they are not of the same religiousbackground, Weiss and Ferullo have discussed howto deal with the issue.

"He's Catholic and I'm Jewish, "Weiss says.["This year] I'm going to be pretty insistentabout him coming to my seder. I just want him tohave more of an understanding."

And Mohammed Asmal '95 says he cannot datebecause "dating is not a part of Islam. It's notgenerally accepted behavior."

Asmal said that Muslim men and women do not goout in private together though he finds thisdifficult "in a society where all your friends...date."

Some students say being in a gay romance canmake the relationship even closer.

Harrell, for example, says that spending almostall of her time with her girlfriend does not posea problem for their relationship.

"We pretty much fall in the married category,so we see each other all the time," Harrell says.

Some of the intimacy is a reaction to thepressures of being a gay Harvard student, saysTheodore K. Gideonse '96, who is gay.

"People feel they have to be secretive," saysGideonse. "You're in a fish bowl and everyone seeswhat you're doing and its prone to gossip."

When sexuality is an issue in the relationship,the traditional rules can change. Oppenheimer, whois bisexual, and Corman have also discussed theissue of seeing other people even after they getmarried, Oppenheimer says.

"Right now, we're moving towards a monogamousmarraige," he says.

Corman says she is willing to allow Oppenheimerto see others because he is bisexual.

"Because it's a matter of sexuality, it wouldbe a little restrictive," Corman says. "I knowthat the love that we share is so strong that itwouldn't be an issue of competition."

Oppenheimer and Corman say that even thoughthey are getting married after only four months ofengagement, their committment to each other isserious.

"The commitment and the connection isunshakable," Oppenheimer says. "[The wedding] isabsolutely not a [joke]. [Convincing friends thatit is not a joke has] been a source of stress."

Aside from the problems posed byHarvard's diverse and intense atmosphere, peoplesay they have found ways to spend time with theirsignificant other. All the couples interviewed saythey do something special for Valentine's Day.

This day last year, Ferullo wrote Weiss a song.The song was titled "Self Portrait of Marta," andFerullo played it for her on the piano. It was oneof the most romantic moments she ever had withFerullo, Weiss says.

"I was really touched," she says.

Weiss says that her most romantic moment withFerullo was at a drive-in-movie theater. "I hadnever been to one before," she says. "I grew up inNew York City, so I never made out in a car[before]."

The most daring thing she and Bill have donewas twice streaking through the yard while holdinghands, she says.

But despite all the problems they and othersface, Weiss and Ferullo say that being together isdefinitely worth it.

"It's going well, and sometimes I wonder what'swrong with this, it's too perfect," Weiss says."It's perfect, It's wonderful, I love him."Courtesy Kwee-GozaliZACHARY GOZALI '96 and MELISSA M. KWEE'94

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags