What's love got to do with it?

How can a romantic relationship affect performances in partner events?

When considering this question, a particular speech coach comes to mind. She hated it when her students started dating each other and causing "drama," particularly when they were partnered for a team event such as Duo, Duet or policy debate. Her position was that past students had broken up working relationships as a result of personal arguments, and it was easier just to “ban” dating. Of course, a teacher can’t actually forbid students from interacting or having relationships, so she basically adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell who is dating whom” policy.

This policy had its good and bad points. When she was judging auditions for new team members at the beginning of each academic year, she didn’t have to worry about how a guy on the team might feel if his girlfriend didn’t make it past the tryouts, or how selecting somebody’s ex might affect the team. It allowed her to remain unbiased while choosing candidates, and it probably prevented at least a few unpleasant episodes.

Personally, though, I knew Duo and Duet competitors -- as well as CX teams -- who were romantically involved with each other and won trophies at every tournament. I competed in Duo with my boyfriend when we were in high school and we both found it to be a great experience. We worked well together, we received high praise from all of our judges, and we placed together at the first tournament we ever competed in. Not only that, but working with him helped to build our relationship and strengthen our skills as actors.

I think it comes down to whether two team members can work well together, regardless of the kind of relationship they have. If they don’t work well together on projects that involve communication, patience and mutual respect, then they certainly won’t make good speech partners. But if two people can remain serious and focused when they are working on their speech material, why shouldn’t they compete together?