As an Oxford girl, you might have had a variety of romantic liaisons over your time here. And as a high achiever, you like making to-do lists. As term comes to a close and students prepare for home and travels, two ladies channel their frustration at their romantic endeavours into the brochure we all wish we’d had in first year.
The Library One
You decide to branch out from your same-y college library and check out the Radcliffe Camera – there must be a reason the tourists are so mesmerised by it. The moment you scan your bod card, you notice something different in the air. You clock why all the tourists flock to radcam. Is this where all of Oxford’s attractive people have been hiding this whole time?!
A boy catches your eye. You spy him in the radcam at least twice a week. You definitely don’t study history, but anyone would think you did from how much you linger in the Upper Camera. A book by Neville Chamberlain on peace? You are just making absolute sure it is the right edition… By staring at it for 7 minutes. If it were your own college, someone would have you sussed and exposed. That’s the beauty of the radcam; you can spy anonymously.
You cannot go any longer without finding out his identity, so you carry out a brief Facebook search based on minimal information. Nada. Not even Zuckerberg’s supposedly intelligent algorithm can deduce an identity from “cute radcam history boi”, and snapping a sneaky pic of him for facial recognition would be only creepy. Have you ever spoken to him? No. Do you even know his name? No. Will you ever muster the courage to say hi? Probably not – but you’re scared of your Taylor Swift The-Story-Of-Us-esque bubble getting burst, anyway.
Boyfriend material: 7/10
The Continental European One
A polyglot in at least three languages, he tries to impress you (or make you feel uneducated) by sprinkling foreign words into conversation with you to “capture the essence mieux”. Will repeatedly profess a sentiment which is “untranslatable” in English. Cannot believe how uncultured you are for not understanding his “weltschmerz” or “saudade”, and at least twice has bridled with disdain “Have you not read Kundera?”.
His surname contains an accent mark and either a “van” or a “von”, though he denies being European aristocracy — don’t you know that the aftermath of WWI saw the collapse of all German monarchies? Sneers at you on average once per week for leaving the EU, flashing his freedom of movement privileges. He frequently remarks with disgust on the British fashion sense, and on your inability to describe the notes in Rioja. To be fair, he has an excellent coat wardrobe and wine cellar.
Boyfriend material 4/10. Points for getting to visit him abroad over the vac, but minus points because of the distance and therefore poor long-term potential after graduation.
The Bougie One
The “Bougie Chirpse” is widespread across Oxford, but most abundant in the commemoration colleges. He likes to believe that he is complex, given his richly cultured, privately-educated background. However when it boils down to it, his entire character can be summed up by several shared features: choirboy curtains, a signet ring, his own white tie, a real tennis racket, an Alpine chalet, a double-barrelled surname, and a gap yah spent paying to volunteer in a school in India. He routinely complains about how shallow girls he dates are, only caring about marrying into his private members’ club.
He is possibly in a boys’ secret drinking society. A perk of this is the option of bagging yourself a +1 to a night of débauche. But if not, to protect his pride he defends his lack of membership with “I don’t need to be in a drinking society to get drunk with my fraaarnds.” He is undoubtedly old money, but still doesn’t treat you to anything more extravagant than a 001 Taxi to his room in Magdalen at 3am.
If you get him whipped then perhaps he will invite you to spend a summer at his family golf villa in the Algarve – or his Scottish castle – but it’s a distant fantasy. Being a devout mummy’s boy, you soon piece together that he can only love his mummy, or a girl willing to commend everything he does the same way mummy does…
You may or may not be using him for a Caledonian Ball ticket – he knows everyone on committee, and is probably related to them.
Boyfriend material: 7/10
The Union Hack One
He makes the first move. “Have we met before? You look familiar.” You’re fairly sure you haven’t , but you’re more than happy to be acquainted with this well-spoken, cute and charismatic boy. He introduces himself. He seems keen – he has a lot of energy, and asks you a lot of questions. You feel like he is looking over your shoulder around the room a bit, but brush it off as minor shyness. He gets his phone out and asks to add you on Facebook, but you’re somehow already friends?
For a few thrilling days, you allow yourself to believe that you are special. 153 mutual friends? You must walk in the same circles, which means you probably have a lot in common, and would be a match made in heaven.
Then you discover he has been sending identical messages to 100 or so other girls. And boys. And anything with a pulse, as long as it has Union membership. You are nothing but a name on his hacklist spreadsheet which his slate has allocated to him. You never met in the Bridge queue – he blindly added you off suggested friends, among dozens of others. He of course goes AWOL as soon as he gets binned.
You matched with him on Tinder too – he was using it as a hacking strategy.
Boyfriend material: 2/10
The “The Glasses™” One
If you are an Oxford girl, you have likely left a string of chirpses who had the exact same glasses: tortoiseshell frames up until 2019, and now they seem to have evolved into light gold Harry Potter circles. You have always wondered why. Serendipity? Quite the contrary; each will plague you just as much as his predecessor. The initial impression of him as a shy, reserved library dweller is swiftly stamped out when he runs in the Union elections. As it turns out, glasses do not automatically make someone sensitive. As soon as you move on from one “The Glasses” chirpse, another jumps into your life. It is never long before the butterflies fly away. Why is it you attract them like flies? It is too basic an explanation to say they are simply your type; they are EVERYWHERE. And not only are they heavily abundant in every college throughout Oxford, they get around too.
Boyfriend material: 3/10
The Woke One
Having tried and failed with the “socially liberal, economically conservative” chirpses above, you feel like branching out (but not too far). At first glance, he seems lovely. He’s just the right side of edgy that you can handle, very keen, has lots of followers on his Leftist Twitter account and he reads you his poetry, so you ignore the raised eyebrows all around when you mention his name. He’s not even from London – you think he went to school near Slough? But slowly, the facade falls away, just like his “nooo dont vote tory you’re so sexy aha” pfp frame after the election. He’s a straight white boy from Surrey, and he claims he’s an oppressed minority.
He refuses to go to regular club nights, “saving himself” for Goodness and The Cleanup. He’s always vaguely busy in the evenings and avoids spending any time with you when you’re not listening to his JC4PM speeches or having sex, three other girls say they’ve been read the same poetry and he deflects all DTR conversations with chat about the future of the Labour Party. He doesn’t hand in a single essay all year and then blames his 2:ii in prelims on the class war. You watch Lady Bird and realise he’s just another Kyle. Alternatively, he could be the South London Che Guevara of your dreams.
Boyfriend material: 5/10
The Convenient College One
Had you met anywhere else in Oxford, or the world for that matter, you would not have hit off the way you did. It was the close proximity and the long duration of exposure that made him attractive. You can’t hide your true, raw self from him. He has seen you in various states: hungover at brunch, up late in the library stressing over an essay crisis, rushing to tutes fresh out of the shower on a Friday post-Bridge… Essentially, he knows you in your most natural form. Yet he still thinks you’re cute!
This category is only really applicable to Michaelmas, or Hilary at a push. After this point in time, you start to see your college as family, and decide it only causes problems to shit where you eat. Alternatively, on a more optimistic note you might whirlwind into an iconic duo adored and shipped by the rest of your college.
Boyfriend material: 9/10
The Regrettable Bop One
Akin to the Convenient College Chirpse, you now know the rules: you shouldn’t shit where you eat. Only this one happened more suddenly, more spontaneously. You only had that all-important epiphany a couple days after the bop, by which time it was too late. You cannot undo the outburst of passion fuelled by ten bop juices, nor pulling each other onto the floor to ‘Angels’, nor waking up in his bed still dressed as Tinkerbell and smelling distinctly of Red Bull and vodka, clearly having eloped from afters at 1am.
But why exactly was it “regrettable”? You both wanted to, and it was somewhat fun. What you failed to anticipate was the awkwardness and inconvenience it would cause on a colossal scale. You didn’t know him too well before – he was probably a year or two above you. He genuinely never crosses your mind, but that doesn’t stop you going red when you are forced to interact. You view it as an obstacle to your degree how his regular library seat just so happens to be opposite your subject’s bookcase. If you fail prelims, you know who to scapegoat.
Boyfriend material: 2/10
The Sporty One
This boy inevitably captures your attention. 6’4”, disciplined, impressive legs… He has an unreal physique, and he knows it. You know where to find him following the annual Boat Race against Cambridge: in Embargo’s drinking away his frustration with Grey Goose, explosively ending his teetotal month-long streak, flashing his boating blazer and buying girls extortionate £12 drinks.
You “coincidentally” wander past Iffley sports ground on your way to… Sainsbury’s? And spot him playing rugby. The two of you genuinely try to put a date in the calendar. But with his strict training programme and early mornings, a long boozy night at The Mad Hatter is off the cards on 6 out of 7 days of the week. Eventually, you end up in his bed. Considering his notorious quadriceps, it was well worth the wait. However, it was also a valuable learning experience – after his 5:45am alarm brutally waking you so he can cycle to the Isis, you now know to NEVER stay overnight.
Boyfriend material: 4/10
The Bridge One
It’s 2am in Bridge which, unlike every other UK town, spells nearly closing time. A boy is staring at you. He’s quite cute. Do you know him from somewhere? You’re not sure, but somehow he knows your name. “We matched on Tinder!!” he says, with an enormous grin. Oh. You had never really used Tinder seriously – only to swipe through everyone you know from college in a <1 mile radius, and to match with them for jokes.
But those five VKs and the strobe lighting on the top floor made him look all that more alluring, so you end up dancing for a while before mysteriously disappearing. He DMs you on Tinder asking you where you went, but you are too drunk to care.
Boyfriend material: 2/10
The RAG Blind Date One
There are a number of reasons which lead to signing up to the RAG Blind Date. Perhaps you are a deeply charitable person, or perhaps you think it could make a heartwarming, romantic story to tell the kids of how mummy and daddy met. But most likely, you did it for the bants.
The concept was good – you’ll give Oxford RAG credit for that. The questions explored depths of your character that Tinder fails to pin down. Tinder doesn’t ask you if you are more “M&S” or “S&M”, more “coalition of chaos” or “strong and stable”.
It only proved to be a great example of why people seemingly being an excellent match on paper does not reflect reality. You exchanged phone numbers, made small talk over text and arranged to meet up at Sandy’s Piano Bar. There was nothing wrong with him – he was perfectly nice and you could definitely be friends – but there was no chemistry. Does he count as a chirpse? If it’s for charity, sure.
Boyfriend material: 2/10
The Ex-Boyfriend Who Goes Back on the Radar Over the Vac
Before you arrived at Oxford, you and your school-days boyfriend had a shared vision. You would visit each other’s uni every other weekend, taking turns. Facetime twice a week. It would be worth it, because you were in it for the long run – you would be reunited after graduation, get married, have two darling children named Julia and Hugo and live happily ever after. How wrong you were, but at least you tried. You’re tempted to cheat, and he probably is too. Countless text-battles and screaming phone calls later, you’re single by fourth week. You’re over him by sixth week. Or so you thought.
Did you really fool yourself that when you texted “HAVE A NICE LIFE” it was over forever? Think again. He may not cross your mind during term time when you are occupied by essays and social occasions, but the vac is a different story. You’re back in his neighbourhood, and you feel a sudden, uncomfortable wave of nostalgia. You’re probably just bored, but at least you get some familiar action to carry you over into Trinity. Just keep believing that it’s no-strings-attached, honey.
Boyfriend material: 0/10
Individuals affected by this article have been approached for comment. A spokesperson for Oxford men told The Oxford Blue: “Not all men.”