This past Valentine’s Day, an organization called the Love and Fidelity Network launched its #BringDatingBack campaign. When I first heard of it, I didn’t think the idea of “bringing dating back” sounded too horrible. Or, at least, I figured there could be value in putting more emphasis on the dating culture on college campuses rather than the hook-up scene, which always seems to take the spotlight. After all, drunkenly making out with someone is a lot easier than asking someone on a date, and personally, I am always impressed by people who have the courage to ask someone out because they’re taking a risk and facing possible rejection. But does there really have to be a campaign for dating? Even its name, #BringDatingBack, is problematic because it implies that dating has left college campuses. Where it went, I have no idea. In fact the website states, “The hook-up culture that ensues has replaced real and genuine romantic encounters between college men and women.” Now, that makes it sound like relationships and actual romantic involvement are nonexistent on college campuses, and yet, I’m pretty sure that’s not true. I know plenty of people in relationships, plenty of people who just hook up and plenty of people with something kind of sort of in between. In other words, there is a huge spectrum when it comes to relationships on campus, so saying the hook-up culture has replaced relationships is simply an ignorant and false statement. People definitely still ask each other out on dates, and sometimes those dates work out and sometimes they don’t. In fact, if dating didn’t exist at all on college campuses, how are there so many couples around Tufts? Trust me, I noticed all of them this past Valentine’s Day. I’m pretty sure all these couples didn’t simply happen. Someone had to ask someone else out on a date eventually.
This #BringDatingBack campaign also has a lot of old school, conservative connotations to it. First off, it claims that sex has stolen Valentine’s Day. (Is that a bad thing, though? I mean, hey, it’s sex.) Now, I’ve only ever gone to Tufts, so it’s the only example I can attest to, but I would say that that definitely isn’t the case here. Around campus, leading up to Valentine’s Day, I saw plenty of activities that focused on relationships. Sororities sold jewelry to give to friends or significant others; A capella groups offered singing-grams that allowed you to send the group of singers to serenade your significant other or just embarrass your friend. In other words, around our campus, there definitely is a focus on relationships, friendship and otherwise, rather than just sex.
The campaign also states that college students don’t have social scripts to ask each other out on dates. According the the Love and Fidelity Network, we college kids have social scripts for “hanging out” and “hooking up,” but not dating. And sure, hooking up is a big thing on college campuses, and yes, there are social scripts for it, but there definitely are also social scripts for “dating.” It simply depends on where you look. If you expect to be asked out on the dance floor at a frat party, hate to break it to you, but you’re looking in the wrong place. Good thing not all of college is one giant frat party, and there are other ways to meet people. I can think of at least three couples who met simply because they were living in the same dorm. People also meet through their classes or their clubs. Now, I’m on the Equestrian team, and given that there are two guys on the team, maybe that’s not the best example, but in other clubs, with more of a mix of genders, meeting a potential partner is entirely plausible. There are classes, there are mutual friends or there’s simply striking up conversation with someone in the campus center. All I’m saying is that there are ways to meet people outside the hook-up culture and parties, and there are definitely “scripts” to dating the people you meet.
But don’t worry, since the people at the Love and Fidelity Network don’t think we have these dating scripts, they went ahead and created some posters to teach us. According to their website, 31 colleges posted these dating posters around their campuses on Valentine’s Day. Obviously I wanted to know what these posters looked like, so I clicked on the link to view them. As I scrolled through them, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. First off, all the dates on these posters occur between a man and a woman. Seriously? Gay people ask each other out, too. Okay, but beyond gender norms, the advice was simply absurd. Steps like, “be punctual” and “make eye contact” were on there along with “put your phone away.” In other words, act like a normal human being. I mean, maybe I’m putting my faith in humanity a little too much, but if you’re interested in someone, you’re not going to be rude to them. And even if you’re not, it’s one cup coffee, and it’s not that hard to act like a decent person for one hour. Furthermore, if the person you’re with doesn’t act like a decent human being, then you know never to go out with them again.
Another piece of advice from these posters was to “keep it short and sweet.” What does that even mean? Personally, I don’t like being around people all that much, especially new people, so unless it’s going really well, short and sweet means about thirty minutes, probably less. But if I really like the person, and they cut the date off short, then I’m going to assume they don’t like me back. In other words, “keep it short and sweet” is just unintelligent advice. “Remember to laugh (But not too loudly)” is another gem of knowledge from these posters. Oh, please. I’m going to laugh as long and as loud as I want to. I like laughing. And I hate anyone who judges me for that. If you don’t like my laugh, then goodbye forever.
And then there is the fact that the Love and Fidelity Network explicitly told the National Review that marriage should be only between a man and a woman. This is Tufts. I don’t think I need to bother explaining what is wrong with that statement.
Well, so they tried. The Love and Fidelity Network tried to #BringDatingBack but, in my opinion, that’s going to pretty hard to do since it never left in the first place.