It is not uncommon for last-semester seniors to get engaged the spring before graduation. Getting one’s ring by spring is a familiar practice at Malone, but it goes beyond marriage and is closely linked to all relationships, including friendships. Addressing the topic can be daunting, as ring by spring carries plenty of connotation, but members of the Malone community offered several helpful perspectives in navigating this season.
TC Ham, associate professor of biblical studies, teaches Friendship and Romance, a Gen 460 offered this semester.
“I would focus on building really great friendships, and that could be a starting point for dating relationships,” Ham said.
Ham said that dating is not bad in itself, but the timeline of ring by spring is not ideal.
“I don’t like [ring by spring] just because I think it puts pressure on people,” Ham said “I do like the idea [of dating] and I encourage students to date a lot while in college. Don’t put pressure on it, but do date. Dating is not just finding out about the other person, but it is a journey of self-discovery. Through dating you realize what you value in a partner, and you learn something about yourself.”
Ham said to look for common ground, character, charity and those types of qualities in building a friendship first, before forming a romantic or exclusive relationship.
“Pursue someone of character, that is the most important thing,” Ham said.
Haydon Dotson, senior communication arts major, recently proposed to his fiancée, and his experience mirrors
“It’s funny people talk about the friend-zone being a bad thing, but the relationship I just got engaged in actually started as a friendship,” Dotson said. “I think the best [dating] relationships come from friendships. Yes, I did get ringed by spring but at the same time I don’t think that is a negative thing at all whatsoever. It came out of a friendship of four or five years.”
For Dotson, this friendship provides the foundation of his relationship.
“What you end up falling in love with isn’t what the person looks like, but who they are. You pick someone who pushes you, but at the same time is always there for you,” Dotson said.
Although this particular relationship turned romantic, Dotson said relationships are at the heart of his Malone experience.
“Relationships to me have been everything good that Malone has brought me,” Dotson said. “Friendships make you who you are. Who you surround yourself with is who you end up being,” Dotson said.
Single students feel the pressure of ring by spring as well.
Anne Schrock, resident director of Woolman, Whittier and Fox Halls, said, “Just because she has a boyfriend and is having a good time doesn’t take away from my good time. Christ is developing and shaping you. Our stories are going to be different and need to be different.”
Schrock also said that friendships are important in this and every season, single or engaged.
“We are only as good as the people around us,” Schrock said. “Make sure you are spending time with people you look up to, that you want to emulate. A best friend can speak into the best parts of you just as well as a boyfriend or girlfriend can.”
Schrock also said it is normal to struggle during ring by spring, especially for single students.
“I also think it is okay to be honest in these moments when singleness just feels absolutely like the worst thing,” Schrock said. “Focusing on what makes me feel special and clinging to those truths because I know that I am [helps].”
Kendra Hartman is a staff writer for The Aviso