The November Rule 2: Electric Boogaloo by Ankita D. '23
the one rule you should not break (take it from me, kids)
The November Rule is the unspoken rule we have on campus that freshman-upperclassman relationships are strictly forbidden until November 1st.
three years ago, my sister wrote the November Rule blog. a year later, in an ironic (and quite sad) twist of fate, I broke the November Rule. in a pretty egregious way, at that—it was a exactly 2 years ago to this day. i am the master of eerie timing and with a senior in my direct social circle.
although I had no relationship experience, or life experience in general, pea-brain freshman year me decided that it was completely okay for me to ignore the many upperclassmen, including my own sister, saying “that’s a horrible fucking idea” and to enter a relationship with someone almost done with their MIT career. as one might expect, it was emotionally exhausting and it impacted me quite a bit.
with every new year comes an onslaught of new MIT confessions about the November Rule. now that I’m an upperclassman and far past the bad decisions made in my freshman year, these confessions disgust and perturb me beyond belief.
the November Rule might seem arbitrary, and a two-month period before you can date freshmen kind of is, but the reasoning behind it is crucial.
as Nisha mentioned in her blog, freshman fall is a disaster. most people leave their parents’ house and are promptly thrown into a slew of new experiences; they have to learn how to juggle their academics, extracurriculars, and general life responsibilities, all while maintaining their social lives. it’s no easy feat.
learning how to be an independent person in your first semester at MIT is essential. the first few months form the basis for the rest of your experience, and having the majority of your time be consumed by one person is not conducive to functioning on your own. you’ll also miss a lot of social and academic opportunities—dating is a huge time-suck.
jumping into a relationship early into the semester is a very convenient means of hindering your ability to do any of these things. you have to make time for your partner, which will make it harder to figure your shit out or build friendships with new people. and there’s a decent chance your partner is in a close social circle since finding a rando you’re compatible with and willing to date a few weeks into MIT is difficult. this means that your social dynamic will be shaped by your relationship, and a breakup would fuck things up quite a bit.
I really wish I’d been single for my freshman fall. my relationship was a huge emotional investment and it often took me away from my friends. some of my closest friends now are people who were in my periphery freshman year who I just didn’t spend enough time with because I was preoccupied. I didn’t go to a lot of parties with other freshmen or to dance team bonding events because I would stay in my partner’s room most of the time. I also didn’t attempt to build relationships with many upperclassmen in my social circle since I thought they didn’t like me when, in reality, they just thought my relationship was super fucking weird (deservedly so).
I have a lot of regrets, clearly.
so that’s the rundown on why getting into a relationship early into freshman year is a bad decision. let’s get to why dating an upperclassman early into freshman year is a super SUPER bad decision.
when you’re a freshman, you don’t realize that a power dynamic exists between you and upperclassmen. in your eyes, you’re an adult capable of making your own decisions, and the upperclassmen are only a few years older than you. in reality, you’re an overgrown high schooler with limited experiences and no clue how to handle life at MIT. and upperclassmen, despite appearing to be at the same maturity level as you, have an advantage in that they’ve been through what you’re currently going through.
until you experience this dynamic on the other side, you may not realize how weird it is for upperclassmen to want to date you. hell, I’m only a junior, and I experienced less than eight months total on MIT campus; even so, I can’t even fathom dating a freshman. first of all, I wouldn’t want to compromise their ability to enjoy their freshman year. second of all, it’s just plain fucking weird. freshmen are like children to me. thanks to COVID, I feel like I don’t have enough experiences to warrant me being a junior, but I would simply never consider dating someone who just got to MIT.
I felt this with the ’24s when they were finding their footing at MIT. I claimed a few unofficial think frat and sorority big/littles within my living group, and even though the designation was arbitrary, I did my best to guide them and help them integrate into our community. as a lowkey “mentor” to these people, I couldn’t comprehend wanting to date them. I want them to thrive at MIT, not start dating someone who’s getting ready to graduate.
in the case of my relationship, I had no dating experience and zero clue how to set boundaries and communicate in a healthy way. when people in similar circumstances start dating upperclassmen, there’s a decent chance that these people will be more experienced in a myriad of ways, which will make frosh want to defer to them instead of understanding what their own needs are. sounds perfectly healthy, right? :/
after it ended, an upperclassman asked me what I could’ve been told freshman year that would make me unwilling to begin the relationship. I didn’t have a great answer for her. maybe if someone said it would be difficult for me to make new friends and maintain my friendships, I would’ve listened. but I know how stubborn I was about being capable of dating someone four years older than me, and how little I understood the advice of those who told me the relationship was a bad idea. it’s unfortunate, but things had to fully unfold for me to learn my lesson.
I could go on and on about how problematic things were, but I’ll leave it at this: I’m finally experiencing my first single semester on campus and I couldn’t be happier. I can give as much time to my classes, friends, and passions as I want—I’m dancing ten hours a week, trying a few new activities, and handling all my classes (so far). I’ve gotten close to the people I neglected my freshman year and am hanging out with different groups of people every day. I don’t waste time or emotional capacity on worrying about an unhealthy relationship and can focus on what makes me happy instead.
I finally feel like a whole person! I just wish I could have felt this way freshman fall.
…I should’ve listened to Nisha, I guess
- exactly 2 years ago to this day. i am the master of eerie timing back to text ↑
- think frat and sorority big/littles back to text ↑