The Cougar’s Den: A Semester in Sweatpants

Welcome to The Cougar’s Den, a new MiddBlog series.  I’m your host, super-senior Laura K., ready to share what little wisdom I have on the topic of sex and relationships at Middlebury.  With this series, MiddBlog hopes to open up on-campus debate, increasing honesty and communication.  Hope you enjoy the ride!

Upon browsing the blogs last week, I came upon an article that was poking fun at “Cosmopolitan”. As this is one of my favorite pastimes, I clicked through. Apparently, in a recent issue, the editors chose 50 of the “sexiest men in America” for a photo shoot. Innocuous, really, until you get to the interview portion, wherein each man was asked their preference for women’s appearance, clothes-wise. Literally every guy gave a different answer, from jeans and a t-shirt, to business suit. The article criticized Cosmo for asking such a stupid question, since guys don’t know jack about women’s style and other such gripes. The whole (somewhat lame) debate sent me back in time to a relationship I was involved in while on my study abroad semester in Denmark.

Above photo decidedly NOT what I looked like while on study abroad, credit:

Pre-arrival in Copenhagen, I imagined what my life would be like living abroad. As shallow as this may seem, one of the things I thought about had to do with my clothes; Copenhagen and Scandinavia in general is famous for its stylish population, and I was eager to join the ranks of the monochromatic city-dwellers and learn a thing or two. What I didn’t intend for was that on my first day of orientation, I’d meet “Matt Damon” (or so we’ll call him for the sake of this article) my study abroad boyfriend. I remember clearly one of his first compliments; he expressed relief I hadn’t changed my clothes when we were going out to a bar, not completely my intention as we’d been stuck in a full day of orientation meetings. And so I was classified; as our relationship changed my style remained the same. Most days were spent hanging around his apartment after class, typically donning sweatpants or other casual wear.  Matt wasn’t much for going out; usually we’d just cook dinner together and maybe do a little homework, or pass the time watching House.

While I find nothing wrong with sweatpants in general, my point is that I wasn’t being true to myself. While I may have felt comfortable in my style choices, I wasn’t quite so content with how I was choosing to spend my time in a way that stretched far beyond just my outfit. I sacrificed time with my amazing roommates, adventures with my friends from class, and some of the goals I had set for myself, style and otherwise. Just like those sweatpants were pretty cozy, the stability of my relationship tempted me away from doing what was best for me. Caused by my own complacency as much as Matt’s nature, I don’t blame him for my regrets. I think that sometimes, the fear of losing a relationship can cause one to act in a way they wouldn’t normally, to preserve something even if it wasn’t a perfect “fit” in the first place. In all aspects of your relationship, one should be free to be true to themselves, even something as trite as clothing choice.

Things worked out well for me – as the summer ended so did that relationship, split not only by incompatibility but distance. Only upon reflection did I realize that my generally happy relationship wasn’t ideal, and I’m glad I did. While I can’t speak to Matt’s situation, I can happily report on the state of my closet – I discovered


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