Is Dating Dated on College Campuses? ; College Students Today Prefer to Socialize in Packs. but Even as They Tick off the Reasons for Avoiding Couplehood, Many Also Express Mixed Feelings about the New Social Norm

By Jennifer Wolcott writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, March 2, 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Is Dating Dated on College Campuses? ; College Students Today Prefer to Socialize in Packs. but Even as They Tick off the Reasons for Avoiding Couplehood, Many Also Express Mixed Feelings about the New Social Norm


Jennifer Wolcott writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


TV's Carrie Bradshaw is history, but real-life relationship columnists like her are popping up on college campuses across America. Students covering their school's social scene suddenly have a lot to say. Their printed musings may not be quite as racy as those of the "Sex in the City" character, but they generate almost as much buzz on campus as did the HBO megahit.

The topic that's getting all the ink? Dating - or rather, the lack thereof. For the past few years, a trend has been growing right along with the ivy on those hallowed buildings: to socialize with groups of friends rather than spend time with one significant other.

In the college paper Rochester Review in New York, Jenny Leonard writes that "the notion of going on a date is, well, dated." In the Daily Princetonian Street, columnist Tarleton Cowen urges her male peers to take some initiative and ask girls out for a "measly trip to Starbucks." And in the Swarthmore College Bulletin in Pennsylvania, reporter Elizabeth Redden tells why her classmates don't date: "no time, no money, and no need."

So prevalent is the choice today to hang out with a pack of male and female friends - about 5 to 15 at once - that some say it's more than a trend.

"It's become a well-established institution," insists Drew Pinsky, who counsels teens and their parents, and speaks frequently about social issues on college campuses. He also cohosts the syndicated radio show "Loveline."

Dating on college campuses has been replaced by what's commonly called "hooking up," according to a recent nationwide study of more than 1,000 college women by the Independent Women's Forum (IWF).

Respondents define the term this way: "A girl and a guy get together for a physical encounter and don't necessarily expect anything further."

Interviews with college students confirm that this has indeed become the social norm.

On a Friday night, a gang of friends might opt to watch a video, meet at a local sports bar, go out for sushi ... just about anything other than a romantic tete-a-tete. Even the classic dinner- and-a- movie date has become a thing of the past.

Some students go so far as to say it can be "terrifying" - when sober - to spend time alone with the opposite sex. And most agree that social gatherings, where alcohol is involved, help "take the pressure off."

As Swathmore's Ms. Redden points out, lack of time and lack of need are also factors. Casual interaction with classmates happens often and easily - in coed dorms, during meals, or in the student center, zapping incentive to initiate something more formal. Also fueling the trend is the fact that young adults are choosing to marry later, so they are less inclined to look for a life partner in college.

All of which creates a campus social scene, explains Dr. Pinsky, with three possible options: 1) Hang out and hook up, 2) "joined at the hip," or 3) "friends with benefits."

The "hook up" option, he says, is shrouded in mystery. It could mean anything from kissing to having sex - and it almost always follows a night of drinking. "Joined at the hip," he says, or "married," as some students call it, is often a result of seeking refuge from the hook-up system. Those who couple off don't "date" in a traditional sense, but they do study together, share meals, and sleep in one another's dorms. "Friends with benefits [of sex]," Pinsky concludes, "might work for a while, but it often ends up a disaster because someone - not always the woman - develops feelings."

College students need to develop a middle ground between hook- ups and joined at the hip, Pinsky says, so they learn how to assess one another and so their adult relationships don't suffer. "Without that," he asks, "How do you know who you are or what you want?"

But among college students, there are as many views about this contemporary phenomenon as there are ways to decorate a dorm room.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Is Dating Dated on College Campuses? ; College Students Today Prefer to Socialize in Packs. but Even as They Tick off the Reasons for Avoiding Couplehood, Many Also Express Mixed Feelings about the New Social Norm
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?