New York Times Ask College Students About ‘Modern Love’


Dinner ended; he had to go pack for his trip. I asked casually when I was going to see him again.

He sighed. “That’s a loaded question.”

I asked what he meant, because I thought the question was fairly straightforward. Then it came. The story. The long, boring, aggravatingly rehearsed and condescending story…”

Then college junior Marguerite Fields was describing another failed relationship with a non-committal man in her winning essay, “Want to Be My Boyfriend? Please Define,” in the New York Times 2008 “Modern Love” college essay contest. The Times had invited college students to submit their personal stories of dating, love and relationships to better understand how love is perceived by digitally-mind Millennials. If you want to learn about love in the modern era, why not ask those early 20-somethings who are entrenched in it every day?

The more than 1,200 essays submitted from 365 schools – 700 essays came in on the last day, in typical college fashion – were both “overwhelming and eye opening” according to the Times staff, so much that they once again asked college students to submit their stories of modern love three years later. The winning author will receive $1,000, and his or her essay will appear in the Times tomorrow.

The top Modern Love columns from 2008 are currently posted on They are honest, witty and depictive of a generational shift in what is perceived as “normal” in the dating scene.

“With so many avenues for communication, one might expect an onslaught of romantic soliloquies, but that isn’t the case. Casual is sexy. Caring is creepy. You don’t want to show your hand, and you certainly don’t want to fall in love. At least until you do, and by then it’s too late.”
Joel Walkowski, “Let’s Not Get to Know Each Other Better”

“The Internet was more than just a direct wire to the world. It had become a vehicle for my desire to be loved.”
Roger Hobbs, “Instant Message, Instant Girlfriend”

These excerpts, along with the stories yet to be published this year, prove that modern love is difficult to define and even more difficult to navigate, just some of many challenges Catholic singles face, no matter what their age.

CatholicMatchers, how do you describe modern love? How has the 21st century version of love, dating and relationships affected your experience on CatholicMatch?



  1. Andy-516957 October 24, 2011 Reply

    Love is love. It always has been. There is no “modern love”
    I read Marguerite’s essay, and I liked it from an English language standpoint.
    She mentions “property” that she is “not anyone’s property and no one is hers”
    But, is very simple terms, that is love.
    When I was in love, I was the property of the woman I loved. I took fewer chances, I took better care of myself; I was not my own, but hers’ and I behaved accordingly.
    I liked that. I am looking forward to that again.

  2. Marian-83994 May 8, 2011 Reply

    I loved her writing style and this story she shares. I, too, sense that it is this dull out there now, At least with the younger crowd. They are really messing it up if they are living the way she describes and I think they may well be doing what she says. Very sad.

  3. Sarah-688125 May 6, 2011 Reply

    You want my comment? OK. Why would men sign up on a Catholic Christin dating service hoping to find a Godly women who has her act together and doesn’t play games, yet does not accept the Church’s teachings on premarital sex? What’s wrong with my guy’s. The Word says for men to love their wives like Christ loves his Church. You are not treating here like Christ treats his Church if you are leading her into sin. If God’s choice for you is to be cherished, she should be cherished right from the git go. If you want to marry your best friend, you have to be a best friend. Best friends don’t treat best friends with disrespect. There were a lot of men who’s profiles I liked but did not respond to because of their lack of decency. I hope all of you guy’s reconsider this very important issue. God will honor your relationship and bless it if you show him just what a blessing it is to you. I also believe that the closeness you one day find with your WIFE will be worth the wait. Did any of you know the Connie Selica & John Tesh respected each other enough to wait until after they were married to physically Love each other? I know, I know, I’m no Connie Selica, but then, your no John Tesh. Hope this give food for thought, and that your thoughts make the best decision.

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