On Tuesday, April 17th, a group of us Newman folks went to a screening of a documentary movie, The Dating Project, that was co-produced by the Paulist. I wasn’t expecting much and was pleasantly surprised that the movie was well-crafted providing some humorous and great insights on dating. I highly recommend seeing it whether you’re in that dating phase of life or you want to advise others. The movie is empowering for those wanting to take control of their life and date.
One of the fundamental philosophical questions we need to be asking ourselves is, how should I live my life? And related to that is the question, what kinds of relationships help me to become the kind of person I want to be?
A Boston College philosophy professor, Kerry Cronin, noticed that many college students were clueless about dating and many were going through college without ever dating. They were therefore not getting the experience and wisdom from such personal relationships to become the excellent person they want to be. Hiding behind social media, many such relationships formed were ambiguous and superficial. The other challenge of today is the hook-up culture in college where casual sexual encounters, thought to be fun and safe from emotional let downs, become false, damaging, and keep folks from developing healthy life-giving relationships. Folks were either avoiding dating or replacing dating with hook-up.
The movie intermixes interviews with Prof. Cronin with following 5 singles - 2 college 1st years, a 20 year old, a 30 year old, and a 40 year old. Dating is harder outside of college because the pool of folks shrink and finding time gets harder, so Cronin encourages students to practice and fine tune the skills of mature dating in college. She even has an extra credit assignment where the student initiates and goes on a date.
She divides dating into three levels where level 1 is an exploratory phase to start to know the person beyond the superficial. It’s about building and exercising skills for relating to others in a mature and respectful way, curiously learning about others and being appropriately self-revelatory. She has a series of rules for level 1 dating which you can find on a handout in the lobby. These rather old fashioned rules (e.g., ask in person, no longer than 90 minutes, spend less than $10, limited physical interaction) help to keep from rushing into a relationship and from hurting oneself through excessive expectations. Given asking someone on a date and dealing with rejection take emotional courage, her level 1 rules lower the expectations, drama, and heartbreak. And it also opens the door to see if there is mutual interest.
Level two dating enters the exclusive phase to learn more about the person, oneself, and one’s compatibility. Level three dating deepens the exploration to discern if the couple should marry.
My take-away from the movie for singles is to seize the moment and date. If you want to date Jesus at the same time to explore religious life, that’s ok also.
– Fr. Ivan