It’s no secret that on the scale of emotional availability, college students rank only slightly higher than mops. This affects our decisions when it comes to dating. Dating, as our parents and grandparents knew it, is now only a concept of the past. It is to be spoken about with the same nostalgic tone one might use when talking about a VHS player or a Furby. Everyone will claim they long for the old days of romance and chivalry, but in reality, they are relieved that they don’t have to deal with all that pesky face-to-face human contact people engaged in before cell phones. So has Generation Y—specifically college students— become forever “undateable”?
Professor Kerry Cronin first brought the discussion of ‘hookup culture’ to BC through a series of lectures, outlining many reasons college-age students are simply not dating anymore. The topic of college ‘hookup culture’ has actually become a rather popular one with researchers recently, and all trying to find answers to the same difficult question: “WHY HAVE PEOPLE STOPPED DATING?”
Somewhere along the way, college kids became complacent with less and less chivalry and formality. Text messages replaced conversations, and casual hookups replaced, for the most part, exclusive relationships. The days of big romantic gestures to get a girl’s attention exist no longer.
The percentage of students participating in casual hookups has been steadily increasing since the 1970s. This trend was exponentially intensified by the introduction of technology. Apps like Tinder and Grindr are only a couple of the dating apps that exist for the same basic function. Users review hundreds of potential partners by swiping right or left, and are bombarded with dozens of potential partners, further perpetuating the hookup culture. After all, why build one relationship when there are 12 matches waiting on Tinder?
But the question of actual satisfaction arises with this system of dating, or lack thereof. If there’s anything to be learned from anonymous posting sites like the late BC Confessions and Yik Yak, it’s that a lot of people are actually tired of casual, superficial hookups. Not to say there aren’t people who like the hookup culture, but there are a surprising amount of people who aren’t actually as eager to participate, as the media would have it.
Surprisingly, there’s a greater perception of a hookup culture than actually exists. There is a stark contrast between reality and perception regarding how often students think other students have casual hookups. When students were asked how often they thought their peers were hooking up, the average answer was seven times a semester. In reality, the number for most students is closer to five or six hookups in their entire college career.
Still, the root of the issue becomes more complicated. It’s not, as it turns out, that people don’t want their Ross or Rachel, it’s that it’s become increasingly more confusing as to how to find that person. It’s simple: the rules of the game have changed, mostly stemming from the fact that there is no universal definition of ‘dating’ anymore. Professor Cronin started her research when she noticed that most BC students had never even been on a date, but found that a lot of them had had casual hookups.
A ‘date’ can mean something different for everyone. To some it might not be an official date unless you go to dinner and a movie and one pays for the other. To someone else, a ‘date’ can mean getting together and watching Game of Thrones or even grabbing a cup of coffee. But more and more often students are having to ask themselves, “Is this a date?” For obvious reasons, this has been known to complicate relationships. One person might think they are on a date while the other might not have a clue, and platonic friendships might be misconstrued for something else.
Whatever the mismatched awkward scenario, it’s clear that there is really only one solution to the ‘hookup culture’ for those who wish something deeper: honesty. Be up front and clear about your feelings for the other person, or, if that’s too scary, at least prevent potentially uncomfortable situations by bluntly answering what you both are thinking, “Is this a date?”
What with living on campus and having phones that substitute face-to-face conversation, it’s too easy to circumvent the whole dating process. Dating will always be nerve wracking and scary for everyone involved. It’s going to take a lot more than a drink and a hookup at a loud party to find your lobster. (See below.)
But then, it might be worth the trouble.