First there was the passing notes, hand holding and name-calling of middle school. Then you survived your first heartbreak when your high school sweetheart decided it would be best to be “just friends.” Now swept away in college life, with an important aspect being dorm life, you hardly take the time to step back and ask yourself, “What am I doing here? Who’s bed did I just wake up in, and how the hell did I get here?!” Okay, so the second part may not be applicable to all students, but at the same time you cannot deny that it happens, likely more often than one would be comfortable thinking about. If you have not yet taken the time to ponder what it is you plan to do with the so-called “best four years of your life,” besides studying and eating dorm food, perhaps it is about time you did. What do you want to be accomplishing in these prime dating years? More importantly, is that what you are accomplishing?
In short, the purpose of this writing is to discuss the question: “What role should dating play in college students’ lives?” Initially one might think this is a frivolous subject. On the contrary, there is a quite a range of opinions on the subject with marriage incorporated into a number of them. Marriage is not a frivolous topic. Consequently its precursor, dating, also bears significance.
One might also think that college students, being in the midst of their own dating lives, would be able to define dating, be familiar with their intentions, and have a strong concept of where the decisions they make today will take them tomorrow, as they relate to dating. Surprisingly, of the students I spoke with here on the Colorado State University campus, while conducting an informal survey, none would have met that standard. All hesitated greatly when asked to simply “define dating.” Once done struggling through that answer, they were asked “In your opinion, what is the purpose of dating in college?” These students’ answers ranged from “getting laid!” to “discover more about yourself through others and to find the person you want to marry” to “I have no clue.” Clearly, the college masses are blissfully unaware of exactly what it is they are doing when they are in pursuit of the attractive sex. Let us address this problem.
First, what is dating? For purposes of this analysis, dating is defined as seeing a member of the attractive sex socially in a one-on-one setting. Other terms used within the following pages are “hooking up” and “courtship,” defined as non-committal sexual acts and non-serial exclusive dating with the intention of marriage, respectively. What I mean by “non-serial” dating is that when you choose to date someone, it is your every intention to marry them. While this may not work out, and thus cause you to enter this process again, each person you choose to date is sincerely meant to be your spouse. In this way, while you may court more than one person, that action is not serialized by your intention being to date many people. Now, with these terms clearly defined, we may delve into just what the various opinions are as to the purpose of dating.
I have defined five major approaches based on their common purpose, values and motivations, in addition to their general line of reasoning. These five groups, as I have titled them, are as follows: Casual Dating, Exclusive Dating, Courting, Cannot Date and Hooking up. Naturally, each of these groups is mainly composed of college students.
Casual dating is a concept that got its best reputation during the American 1950s. Casual daters value meeting new people, discovering and/or reinventing who you are as a person, and enjoying yourself. The scenario goes something like this: The hero of our story, Guy, meets a Girl, decides he would like to see her socially and asks her to join him at the diner for hamburgers and a shared milkshake. If this date goes well, they may see each other again. After about three dates...