The Death of Dating: Hook-up Culture is a Relational Crisis

by The Cowl Editor on October 31, 2019


Dating has a negative stigma attached to it on college campuses, especially for underclassmen. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Crenshaw ’20/The Cowl.


by Olivia Bretzman ’22

Opinion Staff

Dating is dead. Literally. The Instagram account @barstoolpc recently posted a video of a freshman in his own “relationship funeral march.”  The caption of the video reads, “When your boy gets into a relationship in the first month of college.”  A large parade of Guzman Hall residents follow this procession down the hall as the victim laughs off the situation. 

While humorous, this post suggests a negative outlook on dating at Providence College: the death of dating.  The idea of a casual date has faded, and on every college campus, hook-up culture has become an “easy-out” from genuine relationships. A plethora of societal, moral, and personal factors have shifted the dating culture from a dinner to a Tinder meetup. 

The first factors that have revolutionized dating are secularization and social media, which ultimately go hand in hand.  Apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Snapchat allow an ease of connection and have one ultimate goal: a hook-up.  Allyson Giso ’22 comments, “What is making the first move? Our culture has redefined this via social media.” Now, instead of asking for a number and then proceeding to ask someone on a date, people use apps to contact someone in the least social way possible with no repercussions. 

Hardly any genuine interactions occur. Paul Gondreau, professor of theology, commented on societal norms of technology, stating, “Everybody texts, of course, which too often allows people to turn to text messaging as a crutch that masks insecurities and awkwardness that come with interpersonal communication.” Many turn to their phones as a way to avoid intimate situations, including dating.  

He continues, claiming that our generation has “too little interpersonal and emotional connection in a hook-up crazed culture.” As a professor on campus, Dr. Gondreau sees these interactions firsthand.  Our generation has shifted so drastically from his, which focused on casual dating and legitimate admiration for other human beings.  

Secondly, our idea of commitment is completely skewed. Chris Daly ’22 comments on this lack of commitment, stating, “Cheating has become normalized to the point where people just don’t really care.” Our culture creates an art out of cheating by regularly displaying unfaithful interactions in media. Similarly, divorce has become a norm, leading to the fear of separation in every relationship.

Along with the detriment of divorce, anxiety and depression rates have skyrocketed due to hook-up culture. Many worry that dating will cause emotional trauma, leading to trust issues and fragile mental health.  Allie Eurell ’22 comments on the emotional state of dating, claiming, “Even if you have known a guy for a while, you assume you will not date because that would be too emotional. Someone assumes they will get hurt.”  Ultimately, this generation is scared. Scared of getting attached, of becoming reliant, of giving up a good job and future for another person. 

 One of the last issues our campus struggles with is peer judgement.  Many do not want to date because of their reputation.  There is an idea that no one should date until junior year when one can start thinking seriously about their future, alluding to marriage or serious endeavors. 

There is a huge stigma in the male population, especially in the freshman and sophomore class about dating.  They regard each other as “soft” if they ask someone out. Aidan Schifano ’22 comments on this generalization, stating that many say that if you are in a serious relationship, “you’re just whipped and you can’t hang out with the boys.” Supposedly, when dating someone, even casually, their significant other will have no time for anyone or anything else.  

In the Accinno Hall bathrooms, #Bringdatingback posters line the stalls and doors.  These posters illustrate the idea that dating is “not as awkward as it seems.” Various colleges and universities have joined together to support this effort to normalize dating again. 

In fact, Dr. Gondreau challenges his students to bring dating culture back in his theology of marriage class. He offers incentives for them to take someone on a date off-campus without physical contact besides a hug.  The results are very telling. He states, “Last semester I took a poll in my theology of marriage class: all of my students thought I should require the students in my marriage class to ask a person on campus out on a date! What does that tell you?”  While daunting, many have actually experienced positive outcomes with this task.

Quite frankly, our societal norms and technology have altered the beauty of casual dating into a serious and negative topic; however, only our generation has the power to change this quasi-stigmatized viewpoint.  We can do this with a simple date.