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Courage to date

Courage to date

Kerry Cronin, Boston College’s “dating doctor” writes in Christian Century on the dating scene or lack of dating on college campuses these days. A sample:

How is this kind of dating different from or similar to a previous generation’s view of dating?

In the second half of the 20th century, the script for dating was very concrete and somewhat rigid. I think there is a lot to criticize about it but also a lot to retrieve from it. It would be foolish to dismiss it, and it would be silly to try to live in that time and not in our own.

At its worst, any social script can be oppressive and overly rigid. But at its best, a social norm tells you what to expect. For example, when you go on a Level 1 date, you don’t have to spend six hours and tell the person everything about yourself. You should be able to expect that you are not going to have to answer the question of whether you want to have sex. Instead, you will ask, say, how many siblings do they have and where did they grow up. If the script is an appropriate one, you will feel comfortable and feel that you can reveal the right amount about yourself. You will know not to discuss all your past failed relationships.

If we can retrieve from the old dating script a set of low-level expectations—for example, that it is OK to wonder about whether you would like to pursue something more with a person—that would be great. Some might think that this sounds overly programmatic, but the reason is because the script can ultimately give you more freedom.

I also tell students that with Level 1 dating, you get only three tries. If you are not interested in pursuing a relationship with someone, you need to find ways of letting it be known that you are not rejecting that individual as a person but just making an honest assessment of your feelings. I try to offer a way out of the intensity. Students tend to think that traditional dating is so serious. “Our parents and grandparents did that and got married when they were 20.” Today’s students don’t want to get married at 20.

One of the things that really needs to change is that women need to be willing to ask men out. Lots of heterosexual students I talk to—especially women—say, “Oh no, I really believe that men should ask women out.” I say to them, “That’s total bullshit. You are a feminist in every respect except this one?” Both men and women need to be courageous. If you ask someone out, you should pay the expenses. It is a way of showing care and concern. That does not have to involve men showing some weird male dominance by footing the bill. It is about being human and taking responsibility for having asked.

Is this your experience on college campuses?


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Having grown up in a “university town”, and having had college age friends throughout my teenage years, I must admit that I rarely heard the word “date” used in this sense. “Hooking up” is now a commonly used term (which isn’t ONLY used to refer to a sexual encounter).

The traditional process of dating is rare among the college aged crowd…it’s still there in some form. It is, however, rather muddied and watered down…a blurring of the different “levels”.

-Cullin R. Schooley

Leslie Scoopmire

This interests me, especially as the mother and teacher of teenagers. Many teens I know in high school think the word “date” is old-fashioned. Then there is the appalling growth of the concept of “friends with benefits…”

Lord, give me strength.

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