These kinds of self-protective impulses were on full display in the thousands of stories I received during the two Modern Love college essay contests I held, in 2008 and 2011. In the first contest, the most common theme among the undergraduates’ submissions was their struggle with the seemingly ubiquitous practice of hooking up — having casual sexual encounters with no strings attached. Intellectually, the behavior made sense to them. Sex was fun, or could be, but relationships can get messy and demanding. So why not try to neatly separate the simpler and more pleasurable part from the messier and potentially more upsetting part? Slicing their actions from their feelings, however, wasn’t turning out to be such a clean cut.
Do you have a personal story that illustrates the current state of love and relationships? The New York Times’ Modern Love college essay contest invites college students to write about what love is like for them today. The winning author will receive $1,000 and his or her essay published in a special Modern Love column in May 2015 and on .
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very February the New York Times invites college students nationwide to submit personal stories for its annual Modern Love College Essay Contest. If you go to the homepage for the contest, you'll see pretty multicolored hearts floating gently above the text. But if you go to read the 2015 winning essay, the picture you'll get is not so neat or sweet. What you'll see is a modern heart that is broken, bruised, and mournfully confused.