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The Harvard students guide to love: kinda creepy - and not so smart

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Harvard University was once famous for churning out Nobel Prize winners and political leaders, including John F. Kennedy and Pierre Trudeau. But today, its hallowed halls are perhaps better known as the breeding grounds for Facebook – a.k.a. the shut-in's answer to a vibrant social life.

There's a reason for that, judging by the inept dating advice offered by Harvard students in an open-source Google document.

Harvard student Rose Wang launched "The How To Guide for (Romantic) Relationships at Harvard" as a psychology assignment, Jezebel reports.

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Ms. Wang posted the document at midnight and had to shut it down within two hours because it "was getting out of hand," she wrote in the file.

The crowdsourced dating guide amounts to more than 200 "tips" that reveal the level of alienation experienced by Harvard co-eds:

  • “Actually make eye contact. it sounds silly but it rarely happens here.”
  • “Embark on ‘coupley’ activities other than 2am hookups, such as 1 am hookups. Preferably not blackout drunk. But not mandatory.”
  • “Seriously just ask the girl out to something.”

Under the cloak of anonymity, various contributors felt the need to dispense manipulative and/or repugnant advice:

  • “Watch a romantic comedy. COPY WHAT THEY SAY. Seriously.”
  • “Hugs from behinddddd TRUTH. Then you don’t have to see her face!”
  • “Start a rumour that your significant other has the clap! Then no one will want to hook up with them, so they can’t cheat on you. :)”

And here's what our future world leaders had to say about sex:

  • “Find the mythical clitoris. Not real! (oh.... IT’S REAL) (hell yeah it's real lol) it has wings and is shaped like a unicorn.”
  • “Read She Comes First. ... This should be mandatory for straight males.”
  • “Go gay! Why not? Everybody else is doing it.”

Clearly, academic smarts don't always come with social skills. But you can't fault Harvard students for lacking initiative. At least one contributor attempted to turn the virulent document into an opportunity for social connection.

Post #105: "Does anyone want to go to 7-11 with me in 5 minutes? I'm wearing a blue hat."

Does any of this sound like good advice? Or is the next generation doomed to bad relationships?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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