USA Today ran a story on a topic that is never short of attention: the young adult hook-up culture. The premise of the story is this question: Are the days of traditional dating over?
From the story:
It wasn’t until the second semester of her senior year at Fordham University in New York that Kathleen Adams had a college boyfriend.
“You just don’t date at colleges,” says Adams, 23, now a Fordham graduate student in urban studies.
But there’s no shortage of casual sex on campus, she says — in part because Fordham, like many colleges, has significantly more women than men. Adams says that means guys have the upper hand when it comes to intimacy.
“It’s kind of like a competition,” she says. “The guys have their choice of whoever they want. So they think, ‘Why would I date?’ “
The relationship game among college-age adults today is a muddle of seemingly contradictory trends. Recent studies indicate that traditional dating on campuses has taken a back seat to no-strings relationships in which bonds between young men and women are increasingly brief and sexual.
Again, this is not news to most who are up on the current dating trends. But no doubt this hook-up mentality is only spreading. In fact, the article noted that the University of Chicago and other colleges are now setting up websites to facilitate these “hook-up meetings.”
Here at CatholicMatch, we have the benefit of faith behind our dating, notably stepping up the commitment, or at least seriousness, in relationships that develop from this site. And with that seriousness the expectation of a brief sexual encounter is hopefully dispelled.
But, the no-strings attached title does beg the question, is there a Catholic hook-up culture that fosters a different type of hook-up: an emotional ‘no-strings attached’ affair, as opposed to a physical one? Are we, both men and women, guilty of using one another emotionally without the proper amount of thought for both involved?
Certainly, life happens and in the game of dating, our hearts will be broken a time or two, and we will be on the end that breaks hearts as well. I’m not talking about the sometimes inevitable heartbreak of dating.
The Catholic equivalent
I’m talking about the situations CatholicMatch blogger Jessica Zimanske wrote about not too long ago, where two individuals are spending a great deal of time together, sometimes with a lot of emotional intimacy, but no real title on the relationship. Can we dare call this the Catholic version of the hook-up culture? One or both parties are enjoying companionship without commitment until someone they want to commit to comes along. Is that not the same mentality the secular hook-up culture breeds — use one another until you’re ready to settle down in marriage?
In a recent conversation with some friends, someone mentioned that early in the time she was “hanging out” with her now present fiancé she asked some rather bold but key questions.
The clincher question was, “Do you want to be a saint?”
As the rest of us we were playfully teasing her for her up-front demeanor, she responded, “Well, I was 24 and knew what I wanted. I wanted to be sure he was a man of character, who wanted to grow and strive for heaven.”
To which her fiancée said, “And that just made me like her all the more.” He answered her question in the affirmative, and it wasn’t long after this that this couple went from “hanging out” to exclusive dating.
The hook-up culture persists because individuals continue to give in rather than hold out and get to know one another. Individuals fail to demand the treatment they want and deserve: respect and sincerity.
I think the same can be said for “hanging out” versus dating. The more intentional we are about our relationships, the better they will go. As Jessica said in her post, we must respect ourselves enough to ask the tough questions – even the question “What are we?”
As a witty blogger wrote, perhaps it’s time we stop hanging out and start dating. Because you’re worth it all, not just the convenience of some of the time until the next best thing comes along.